Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Hello, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.  We had a lovely time, and I received a new toy for the kitchen I’ll be using very, very soon – an 8-quart Fagor pressure cooker.  I’m thrilled with it; technically, you can cook with our pressure canner, but it’s so large that it’s not really practical.

Fair warning:  be on the lookout for recipes using a pressure cooker in the (very near) future.

Our Christmas dinner was small – just me and Beloved – but suitably celebratory.  The centerpiece of the meal was this dish.

I’d never had pheasant before, much less cooked it, but it’s no more difficult than roasting a chicken and the flavor is just out of this world – far richer than even a good pasture-raised chicken.  Brined for several hours and glazed with a mixture of fresh lemon juice, local honey and fresh thyme, it is simply outstanding.

This recipe is based on the excellent Glazed Roast Pheasant recipe from Hank Shaw of Hunter, Anger, Gardner, Cook.  If you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack, he gives instructions on how to build one with vegetables that can be eaten as a side dish.

Note:  Pheasants are not large birds, and the original recipe says it will serve 2.  While this recipe also serves 2, we did not eat all of it – there’s at least one more serving left.  Pheasant stir-fry, maybe?


Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Serves: 2
  • 1 pheasant
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Whisk together the salt and water in a small stock pot or other large, non-reactive container until the salt is dissolved. Place the pheasant in the brine and cover; refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Whisk together the lemon juice, honey and thyme in a small bowl until well-combined.
  3. Remove the pheasant from the brine and pat it dry. Allow it to rest on a cutting board while the oven heats, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the reserved lemon rinds and the sprig of thyme; sprinkle with the cayenne pepper. Place the bird breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan.
  5. Roast the pheasant for 15 minutes at 450 F, then decrease the heat to 375 F and roast for another 20 minutes. Turn the pheasant breast side up and baste with the honey/lemon mixture. Roast for another 30 to 40 minutes,
  6. basting the bird every 10 minutes, and taking care not to allow the glaze to burn.
  7. When the thigh of the pheasant reaches an internal temperature of 160 F, remove to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 412 calories, 17.5g total fat, 131.7mg cholesterol, 1030.1mg sodium, 532.1mg potassium, 20.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 18.1g sugar, 42.5g protein

6 thoughts on “Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant”

  1. I’ve never had pheasant, but your recipe sounds delicious! I’m going to try it for sure. We had ham, and like you, we had plenty of leftovers. I use it to make split-pea-and-ham soup. Delicious!

  2. What a beautiful bird. The meat was moist, soft, and tender. Even the breasts were more like dark poultry meat. And I’m a big fan of dark meat (breasts too dear, breasts too). The meat didn’t tear away from the bone as well as farmed chickens, but it was cooked perfectly and I wouldn’t cook it longer for fear of it drying up. The legs were more reminiscent of turkey than chicken as it had more tendons and ligaments (you know – they feel like thin bones). I guess holding up that beautiful tail is more arduous than wiggling chicken tail feathers at the nearest cock.

  3. This takes me back to my childhood. My father hunted pheasant and quail and my mom breaded and fried them up. I wish we’d had this recipe all those years ago! I also use a pressure cooker at home and love it.

  4. I just wanted to leave a comment to say that I am in love with your blog and shared it in my short list favorite food blogs on my Cage Free Family site in a post which will air tomorrow morning. There is a book being published in London this fall which features our story and the importance of whole foods to it. It is blogs like yours that allow me to keep inspired and motivated. Thank you.

  5. I made it again tonight, this time with two pheasants together! I’ve used this recipe many times and get rave reviews every time. Even those with allergies or other restrictions can have this version. It’s my favorite pheasant recipe. Thank you for sharing it!!!

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