Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Sign up here to get our free newsletter


Sweet & spicy whole turkey

Susan Selasky for the Detroit Free Press

This turkey recipe is kicked up a few notches thanks to the ginger and cayenne pepper. It’s all balanced with a bit of sweetness from the brown sugar and honey glaze.

Sweet & spicy whole turkey recipe



Yield 10-12 servings


  • 1 fresh whole turkey, about 12 to 14 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot red pepper sauce
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or water


  1. Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for another use. Pat turkey dry. 
  2. Starting from breast, loosen and lift skin from turkey without completely detaching it.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together salt, brown sugar, onion powder, paprika, ginger, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.
  4. Reserve 2 tablespoons of salt mixture.Spread remaining salt mixture evenly under skin. Carefully replace skin.
  5. Drizzle skin with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and rub with reserved 2 tablespoons salt mixture.
  6. Tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine; tuck wingtips under. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking. 
  8. In a separate bowl, stir together honey, hot red pepper sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon oil until well blended. 
  9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place rack in a roasting pan; coat rack with cooking spray.
  10. Place turkey on rack and transfer to oven. Add broth to pan.
  11. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Rotate pan halfway (on same rack), brush with half of honey mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  12. Continue baking until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 165 degrees, about 1-1/2 hours more. 
  13. Remove turkey from oven, and brush with remaining honey mixture.
  14. Let stand at least 40 minutes before carving.


Cooking tip: You may skip brushing the turkey with honey mixture when you rotate it if the turkey is already dark. Just brush the mixture on at the end.

Adapted from Southern Living magazine, November 2016 issue. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen. Nutrition information not available.

Join the party

See original, joy-evoking articles & videos to help you celebrate the everyday, and take your holiday traditions to the next level!

Subscribe now to get

our free newsletter