Sweet Tea Turkey with Molasses Glaze

Will you be naming your holiday turkey this year? Watch Trace relive his childhood with this sweet twist on a classic.

The Story

My mawmaw’s tea is so wonderfully sweet, it could be used as a sugar substitute. But tea is more than just a refreshment served on the front porch. It has wonderful meat tendering properties while also locking in moisture in the roasting process. Combine that with bourbon, and you’ve got yourself quite the brine, which gives the turkey a delightful caramel color. A sticky, sweet molasses glaze really makes this turkey the star of any holiday table.

As a child, one of my cherished memories was taking on the responsibility of helping to cook the Thanksgiving turkey for my family. It was a task that filled me with both excitement and a sense of pride. Each year, I not only aimed for a perfectly cooked bird but also gave it a special name, adding a personal touch to the feast. Naming the turkey became a playful tradition that brought a sense of whimsy to the kitchen, and it was a small gesture that made the holiday meal feel uniquely ours.”

– Trace Barnett

Sweet Tea Turkey with Molasses Glaze (Serves 8 – 12)


1 gallon sweet tea
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
2 onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, halved
2 tablespoons mustard seed
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme

12–18 pound turkey
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
3 onions, quartered
2 oranges, quartered
1 apple, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
4 stalks celery, halved

3 tablespoons butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup pan drippings, or chicken broth


  1. Combine ingredients in a large pot and stir until well combined. (Optional) In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients for brine and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool completely before adding turkey.
  2. Prep turkey by removing from packaging and discarding turkey trimmings (or save them to be cooked later).
  3. Submerge turkey in brine. If turkey floats, weight down with a heavy plate or platter. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours, turning once.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove turkey from brine. Pat turkey dry and place it in a large roasting pan atop a roasting rack. Spread mayonnaise over entire turkey. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and rosemary, pressing herbs into place with a small amount of pressure. Fill the turkey cavity with onions, oranges, apple, garlic, and celery.
  6. Cover turkey with heavy-duty foil and transfer to oven. Cook for 5 hours, basting hourly by spooning juices from the roasting pan over the turkey.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium-high heat, melt butter for glaze. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add molasses and drippings to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Uncover turkey for final hour of cooking, and spoon molasses glaze over turkey. Cook uncovered until golden brown in color and juices run clear. Remove from the oven.
  9. Place on a large platter and garnish with fresh herbs, cranberries, or walnuts. Spoon additional glaze from pan over turkey. Yum!

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