This dry brine turkey gets blanketed in a salt and sugar rub overnight and is then rinsed and roasted until golden. The result? Perfectly moist and tender turkey. No basting required.
It’s hard not to love the tender juiciness that brining a turkey coaxes into existence. But it’s not hard to feel daunted by the thought of finding a large enough container to hold all that brine plus a bird and somehow make space for that in your fridge which is already crammed full. Try this nifty little trick. It’s known as dry brining. And as the name implies, it achieves the same tremendous effects as regular wet brining but with virtually no effort, fuss, or fridge overwhelm.
As to why dry brining works, it’s a little complicated and has to do with stuff you learned in seventh-grade science class. But even if you don’t understand it, what you will understand, in the words of the recipe’s author and in our experience, is the reaction you’ll get from guests when I serve this bird. Hands-down, it’s the best turkey they’ll have ever eaten. It’s turkey magic.–Angie Zoobkoff
*What Kind Of Salt Do I Use To Brine?
It is absolutely critical that you use kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal brand, for this dry brine turkey recipe. Trust us. Regular salt is too fine and will permeate the fibers of the turkey and you’ll be unable to rinse it off, ruining your centerpiece.
Dry Brine Turkey
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 D, 4 H
- Serves 8 to 10
- 3 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Diamond brand kosher salt* (if you are using a different brand of kosher salt, you’ll want to weigh out 270 g)
- One (13-to-15-pound) fresh turkey
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, parsley or sage, or a combination
- 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar and kosher salt. Place the turkey in a large plastic bag and place the bag in a roasting pan.
- 2. Pack the sugar mixture all over the breast, legs, and wings of the turkey, pressing firmly so as much of the mixture sticks as possible. Carefully close the bag, just for neatness’ sake, and then pop it into the fridge for 24 to 36 hours.
- 3. About 4 hours before you plan to serve the turkey, preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
- 4. Take the turkey out of the bag and rinse it under cold running water, gently rubbing it until every last speck of the brining mixture comes off. Don’t forget to rinse out the inside, too. It’s okay if the turkey looks a little dry. Trust us on this one.
- 5. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and dry it with paper towels. Place the thyme in the cavity and tie the legs together with twine. Bend and tuck the wing tips under the back. Brush the turkey all over with the oil.
- 6. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175°F (80°C), 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and tent loosely with foil. Let rest at least 30 minutes and as much as an hour before carving.