Dry brined turkey is my favorite way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey! Tired of the mess of brining your holiday bird? Try this dry brined turkey recipe for delicious, moist results!
Dry Brined Turkey: You’ll Never Go Back!
After years of soaking our turkey overnight in a brine solution, I finally got wise and tried a new method. Dry brining is basically rubbing your bird with kosher salt and letting it rest in the fridge for 3 days. A couple massages, a flip upside down for the last day and a night uncovered is all that’s needed. Seriously, you’ll love this easy as pie preparation. You’ll just need to pick up and have your turkey thawed at least 3 days prior to roasting it.
Tips for Dry Brining Turkey
I didn’t realize the meat market was closed on Monday last year, so I didn’t get the full 3 days of dry brining. This year, I’m better prepared. The turkey was still a show stopper. Crispy skin and moist, lightly salted meat. I actually roasted a 22-pound bird and half was eaten by the end of the day. It is amazing what two twenty-something sons can pack away.
- The process is a piece of cake compared to filling a huge bag with a brine of water, salt, sugar and spices, lifting a slippery turkey into its bath and placing it in a cooler. Then if you happen to have a paranoid husband who is sure that raccoons will break into our cooler set on the patio overnight, you will also need to rig it so it is critter proof.
- The main point is to allot enough time for the osmosis to take place. Your turkey should be defrosted 3 days prior to roasting.
- Use kosher salt and pick your favorite herbs for turkey. Sage, rosemary, bay, poultry seasoning, and thyme come to mind. You can just use 2 or 3.
- Whiz them together in a food processor so they’re well interspersed with the salt.
- Generously cover your dried turkey (pat the skin dry with paper towels) with the salt mixture place in a large food safe plastic bag.
- Rub the turkey each day, and flip on the 3rd day.
- Make sure you wash your hands frequently when dealing with raw turkey. Poultry is known for harboring bacteria like salmonella.
- Bring to room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Baste with butter, then roast until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees both in the breast and inner thigh.
I’m exhausted just thinking of our previous exploits. If you haven’t heard of using a dry brine for turkey, I think you’ll be delighted with the results if you give it a shot.
P.S. I have a delicious Holiday Honey Brined Turkey Recipe if you’d like to experiment with wet brining.
And if you have turkey leftovers, I love making Turkey Tetrazzini and Turkey Soup. Plus I’ve spotted these 21 Easy Recipes for Turkey Leftovers for more ideas, as well as this Leftover Turkey Monte Cristo and these Turkey Nachos! Don’t want to stuff your bird? Try this Crock Pot Stuffing!
To make your dry brined turkey, you might like:
This winning recipe from the L.A. Times will make for a juicy and crisp turkey without the mess of traditional brining.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 12
- Category: Entree, Turkey, Holiday
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: American
- 16 pound turkey, defrosted, giblets removed (just adjust salt if using a different weight turkey)
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt (1 tablespoon for each 5 pounds of turkey)
- Herbs, optional (I used rosemary, thyme and bay leaves)
- 4-8 tablespoons melted butter, to baste
- Rinse and dry turkey. In a food processor, process salt plus about a tablespoon of any herbs you’d like to use (rosemary, thyme, bay).
- Lightly salt the inside of the turkey, then sprinkle the breast side with a bit more than a tablespoon of the herbed salt, and each side with a bit less than a tablespoon of salt. Place the turkey in an oven bag and remove the air before closing it with a twist tie. Place on rimmed baking sheet.
- Refrigerate for 3 days, starting breast side up, rubbing the skin through the bag once a day. Flip on day 3, then remove from bag to let skin dry 8 hours before roasting.
- Let sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting. Place on rack in roasting pan.
- Preheat oven to 425º, brush with melted butter and roast for 30 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325º, cover top with foil if browning too fast and cook till turkey reaches desired temperature, basting as needed. May add some wine and chicken broth to bottom of roaster as needed.
Cook time varies depending on size of turkey.
Do not use a turkey that has already been brined or injected (like a Butterball) or your results will be too salty.
Use your dry brined turkey leftovers to make these delicious recipes: