Thirty Minute Thursdays: Grilled Honey Mustard Turkey

Apparently it’s been just about a month since I posted a recipe with meat in it.  For all of you meat lovers out there, I apologize. I am weaning myself off of meat to some extent – L is terrified that I’m on my way to becoming a bona fide vegetarian and he’ll never eat homecooked meat again in his life – but I really don’t have any plans to cross over into official veggie-dom. I don’t really like labeling myself by how I eat, particularly since I’ve struggled in the past with overly stringent “rules” about “good” versus “bad” foods. When I feel like eating meat, I eat meat. When I feel like I’ve maybe had enough meat for the time being, I stop for a little bit until I get a hankering again. It’s working for me so far.

My developing flexibility (I’m working on it!) is also making my family’s life a little easier. It was easy during college to cook my own food and eliminate meat as I see fit, but my family isn’t like that. If they have a meatless dinner meal, it pretty much is guaranteed to be lasagna or something like soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. They haven’t really, truly embraced beans and they certainly aren’t up to tofu yet, so my moving back home for my internship is definitely going to involve adjusting on everyone’s parts.

My compromise is that when I cook for them, the majority of the time it will involve meat in some way (not always! We’re going to stretch their comfort zones with food, just gently). One benefit of this is that most of the Rachael Ray meals left in her cookbook involve meat, so it helps to have other people around me to help go through those remaining meals. It’s a good thing too, because a lot of them wind up tasting hands-down delicious, and it’d be a shame if I missed out on them simply because I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to cook a big hunk of meat for little ole’ me.

This recipe today is not-so-loosely based on one of the meat-centric recipes in her book. Originally titled Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken, I’ve tweaked it to use turkey tenderloins and a few other more convenient ingredients in the context of what my kitchen was stocked with, and I think a more appropriate new title would be Grilled Honey Mustard Turkey. I know, I know, I just turned the world upside down with that change, right?

This is a solid recipe. It claims that it serves 4, but I’d argue that it largely depends on the type of eater you are. My mom and I split half of a tenderloin, so if you’re more like us, this recipe will serve 8; my dad and L on the other hand each had their own tenderloin half, so a family more like that would only get 4 servings out of it. But this meal, it’s not really about the meat. The sauce, which makes enough to very, very generously douse each and every piece – and I mean douse – is where all of the magic happens. The sweetness from the brown sugar comes through, but it’s cut and kept in check by the cider vinegar. It worked surprisingly well in the warmth of these Spring months, but because of the ingredients used I can see it fitting just as well into an autumn menu. 

I paired the turkey with a corn and tomato scramble (pictured above) from Epicurious, making that according to the original only substituting olive oil for the butter and dill for the scallions. It was flavorful and simple, a truly classy dish. I also made a side of roasted green beans, which were equally simple and a great “guideline” recipe that I found at Mother Rimmy’s Cooking Light Done Right – a good how-to to keep in your back pocket. Plus, the beans only roast for 5-8 minutes, so it doesn’t make your kitchen a furnace – a great compromise for all of you roasted veggie lovers who don’t want to absolutely melt in your kitchens this summer. 


Grilled Honey Mustard Turkey
The turkey remains tender, cooked long and slow on a grill pan and blanketed with a sweet-and-sour mustard and vinegar sauce – the true star of the dish.

Yield: 4-8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

The Ingredients
2 plus tablespoons vegetable oil
½ onion, diced
1 ¾ pounds turkey tenderloin, quartered
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon (no salt added) chicken bouillon
1 cup water
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon curry powder

The Method
Heat and very lightly grease a grill pan over medium. While that’s heating, place 2 tablespoons of the oil into a small saucepan and heat that as well. When the saucepan is ready, add in the onions and sauté, 3-5 minutes.

When the grill pan is hot, brush the turkey cuts with additional oil and place on the pan. Cook 10-15 minutes before turning.

While the turkey cooks on the first side, return to the sauce: add the vinegar to the onions and allow it to reduce and thicken slightly, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar for another minute before whisking in the water, bouillon, mustard, honey, allspice, and curry powder. Bring to a gentle simmer, then lower the heat and keep warm, stirring occasionally.

Flip the turkey over and baste it liberally with the prepared sauce, covering it almost completely and letting it drip down the sides. Continue cooking the turkey another 10-15 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary to allow the turkey to cook all the way through. With around 5 minutes left, pour the remaining sauce over the turkey and into the pan, taking that pan sauce every once in a while and pouring it back over the meat. Flip once more for 2-3 minutes and, when the meat is cooked through1, transfer to a platter and top with the extra sauce from the pan.

Source, adapted: Rachael Ray's Classic 30 Minute Meals, recipe also available at

1Turkey tenderloins are significantly thicker than many chicken breasts on the market. You could butterfly them to speed up the cooking time, though I found patience to be all that I needed to put this meal together in a relaxed, not too drawn out manner. Meat should register 165° on a meat thermometer (which I never use); you can also press down on the meat and it shouldn’t be soft like a pillow – it should resist your pressure slightly. You can also cut into it to make sure it’s done, but that’s a big official no-no because it releases juices, so don’t tell anyone I told you that was ok. But it is, if you’re really unsure and it makes you feel better.

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