Dry brined roast turkey is my new and forever method of cooking a turkey. Dry brining will give you the most phenomenally moist, tender, deep flavor-filled turkey. Flavored all the way through the meat.
Simple, succulent dry brined roast turkey is what Thanksgiving dreams are made of.
I was tired of filling a large bucket with a brining solution, making room in the fridge, and ensuring that the stupid bird stayed submerged.
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Simple Succulent Dry Brined Roast Turkey
Last year I started experimenting with this method of dry brining. It’s absolutely BRILLIANT! I will never wet brine again.
I used it here with our Homemade Cajun Turkey Deli Meat.
I’m sorry, I know I’ve told you how to wet brine and what a great method it was. Forget what I said, but don’t lose trust. Even better with this method, you can start it while the turkey is frozen. It does take some planning, but it is well worth the time and effort.
What is dry brining?
With dry brining, the salt draws moisture from the meat, but then the meat reabsorbs the liquid.
So in effect, you’re brining the turkey in its own juices. Pulling the herb flavors deep into the meat. Giving you full turkey flavor!
No, it’s not salty at all.
How to dry brine a turkey
DO NOT USE a self-basting turkey, they have already been brined.
Use 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for every 5 pounds of turkey. Flavor it with an herb mixture of your choice.
We love bay leaves and dried thyme. It just screams Thanksgiving.
Use a spice grinder or a small food processor to grind the herbs with the salt. We use Morton Kosher salt.
Season the inside of the turkey lightly with the salt mixture.
Salt the skin of the breasts with about 1 tablespoon, concentrating the salt where the meat is thickest. Turn it on the side and salt the entire side making sure to put an ample amount on the thigh, flip to the other side, and repeat.
Place the turkey in an oven bag or wrap with several layers of plastic wrap and place it on a baking tray. (It will leak) Refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Brine at least 24 hours, minimum.) Be sure to rub the salt into the bird once a day during refrigeration.
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Remove the turkey from the bag or plastic wrap, and pat dry one last time. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before cooking.
DO NOT RINSE – rinsing will make the skin less crispy.
The salt should be completely dissolved. Pat the turkey dry one last time.
The recipe I used said for really crispy skin, take it out of the bag and refrigerate uncovered overnight. I didn’t do it this particular time, and the skin was still extra crispy and golden.
It also said to place the turkey breast side down during the 30-minute cooking. I have done this before but didn’t find it necessary, so I skipped that part of the process. It was also really cumbersome to do.
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Place the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325º and cook another 2 1/2 – 2 hrs 45 minutes.
Because dry brine turkeys tend to cook faster, check the internal temperature early.
Remove from the oven when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.
Tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
Carve and serve to your hungry guest who smelled this scrumptious bird the minute they walked into your home.
I sacrificed a Sunday in September to bring you this simple succulent dry brined roast turkey, just so you could enjoy it this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both. My husband will tell you it was no sacrifice at all.
Dry Brine Turkey Recipe
Simple Succulent Dry Brined Roast Turkey
- 1 12 to 16- pound turkey not self-basting – partially frozen will work
- Kosher salt
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon butter melted (optional)
- Remove the turkey from the packaging, pat dry.1 12 to 16- pound turkey
- Measure 1 tablespoon of kosher salt in a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d need 3 tablespoons). Grind together the bay leaf and dried thyme with the salt in a spice grinder or small food processor.Kosher salt, 1 large bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the skin of the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. (Probably about 1 tablespoon) Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. ( a little less than a tablespoon.) Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
- Place the turkey in an oven bag, press out the air and seal tightly or wrap the bird in a few layers of plastic wrap. Place the turkey breast-side up on a baking tray in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days*. Rub the salt around once a day. (Liquid will collect in the bag—this is normal)
- For the crispiest skin, the night before, remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
- On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour (do not rinse—rinsing will make the skin less crispy). Heat the oven to 425° F.
- Pat dry one last time. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325° F, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165° F, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting. The last 30 minutes of roasting brush the turkey with melted butter, if desired.1 Tablespoon butter
- Remember dry-brined turkey cooks more quickly than one that hasn’t been brined, it’s best to check the temperature early with this recipe, it may be done faster than you think.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let rest at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat.
- Carve and serve.
Our turkey was almost 15 lbs. We used 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, and 1 large bay leaf. No Spice Grinder? – Don’t worry you can still dry brine without grinding the kosher salt and spices. It works just as well. You can play around with the herbs and spices and add garlic powder, lemon zest, black pepper, dried thyme, etc. You can cook stuffing in the turkey. Use a little less salt than normal in the mix. DO NOT RINSE – rinsing the turkey will make the skin less crispy. Be sure to loosely tent the turkey with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20-30 minutes after cooking. You want the juices to redistribute. I recommend using a digital thermometer with a leave-in probe and remote monitor to keep a better eye on the internal temperature of the turkey. Storing Leftovers – Let the turkey cool completely, place in an air-tight container or bag, and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Freezing – Let the turkey cool completely, place it in a freezer-safe container or bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.