Cooking our Thanksgiving turkey off grid in a dutch oven is a fun family tradition we started a few years ago at hunting camp. We love making Honey Brined Herb Roasted Turkey in the dutch ovens so much that we’ve made it other times during the year too!
We have a variety of sizes of dutch ovens that we use to cook in when camping and especially enjoy using them when on extended river float trips. We use cast iron pans to cook most of our meals at home so for us it is not too much different, other than the fact that we have to use coals to heat the dutch ovens since there is no oven to do that!
For several years we organized a Dutch Oven Thanksgiving at hunting camp and were able to make everything from scratch and in cast iron, including the pie! At one point we even had a dutch oven triple stack which we don’t have too often.
When embarking on our first Dutch Oven Thanksgiving, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about the turkey. We didn’t have a dutchy big enough to fit a full size turkey, plus they take so long to bake in a standard oven I ruled that option out. I came across boneless turkey breasts at the grocery store and I knew I found my answer. They were the perfect size to fit in the dutch oven and were big enough to feed a good number of people and still have some left overs.
Although we only make this recipe at Thanksgiving, it is super easy and so tasty that you can make it anytime. You can even make it in your oven at home, although for us the off grid dutch oven cooking is part of the fun in making this recipe!
Honey Brined Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts:
two turkey breasts, thawed
1 cup salt
1/2 cup honey, 4 TBS honey
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 small bunch fresh thyme chopped
fresh ground black pepper
1 small bunch fresh sage chopped
5-6 quarts water
Make the brine in a large pot or bowl. Mix ½ cup honey and all of the salt in the water until dissolved. Add half the sage, thyme, black pepper and garlic. Place the turkey breasts in the brine for 10-12 hours and make sure they are completely covered in the brine.
When we make this recipe for a Montana Thanksgiving it is cold enough outside that I can safely allow the turkey to brine outdoors. You can also do the brine step at home in the refrigerator before heading outdoors/off grid if you need to.
When the brine process is complete, discard the brine mixture. Place a small baking rack in the bottom of the dutch oven to allow air movement under the breasts as they bake. Place the turkey breasts on the baking rack.
Mix the 4 TBS of honey with two cups of water until dissolved. Add the rest of the pepper, thyme, sage, and garlic. Pour this mixture over the turkey breasts.
Cover and bake until a thermometer inserted into the turkey breast reads 170 degrees. When using coals on a dutch oven, this takes approximately 2.5- 3 hours. Replace coals on dutch oven as needed until the turkey is finished baking. The water/honey mixture in the dutch oven ensures the turkey comes out nice and juicy, and also is great stock to use when making homemade gravy for your meal.
As you can see in this picture, I already had removed the majority of the liquid from the dutchy to make the gravy for our meal and it was so yummy!
As a little side note, when we have Dutch Oven Thanksgiving at our favorite hunting camp spot there is sage brush surrounding the area. I always like to pick my sage fresh from camp and use in this recipe. I also pick extra sage to use in my cooking throughout the year.