This dry brined turkey is coated in a blend of salt, herbs and spices, then roasted to golden brown perfection. A super easy method to put a beautiful and delicious holiday turkey on the table with minimal effort!
The holidays are not complete without a turkey, and this dry brined turkey is simple to put together, but full of flavor. Serve your turkey with cranberry orange sauce and cornbread dressing for a memorable meal.
I always recommend brining a turkey. A good brine adds tons of flavors, and is the best way to keep a turkey from getting too dry. That being said, sometimes a wet brine can be a pain. You need to clear a huge space in your fridge and find a container big enough to hold the turkey and brine. This dry brined turkey has the same great flavors, with a lot less hassle. Simply rub the brine on your turkey, let it sit for a few days, and you’ll be ready to go.
What is a dry brine?
A dry brine is a blend of salt and seasonings that is rubbed onto the skin and meat of a thawed turkey. A dry brine always contains salt, and other common ingredients include sugar, garlic, dried herbs and paprika.
How to make a dry brined turkey
The first step is to prepare your dry brine, which is made with kosher salt, brown sugar, dried thyme, dried sage, black pepper and garlic powder. Coat your turkey with the dry brine mixture. Be sure to get some of the dry brine underneath the skin of the turkey, especially the turkey breast. Let the turkey sit covered in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Uncover the turkey, and let it sit for an additional 12-24 hours in the fridge so that the skin can dry out and get crispy in the oven. Coat the turkey in seasoned butter, then roast it until golden brown and cooked through.
Do you wash off a dry brine?
You do not need to wash off the dry brine. If you rinse the turkey, you’ll actually hinder the cooking process as adding more water to the mix will re-hydrate the turkey skin, and it won’t get browned and crispy in the oven.
Tips for the perfect turkey
- The dry brine needs at least 2 1/2 days to do its job, so plan accordingly with your timing of purchasing a turkey.
- Don’t add any more salt to the turkey after you brine it so that the end result is not overly salty.
- This recipe will not work on a kosher or pre-brined turkey. Read the label to make sure the turkey you purchase does not contain any added salt.
- If you’re using a frozen turkey, make sure it’s completely thawed before you start the brining process. The dry brine will not penetrate a turkey that’s still frozen.
- Be sure to use kosher salt; table salt does not measure the same and will make your turkey too salty.
Dry brined turkey flavor variations
This is a basic recipe for a dry brine, but you can absolutely add other flavors to the mix to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Sweetener: Instead of brown sugar, try granulated sugar, granulated honey, maple sugar, coconut sugar or muscovado sugar.
- Spices: Feel free to stir in additional spices such as paprika, chili powder, onion powder, Cajun seasoning, oregano or poultry seasoning.
- Herbs: Other great herb options include dried basil, dried parsley, Italian seasoning, dried chives or marjoram.
How long do you cook a dry brined turkey?
Generally speaking, a turkey needs to cook at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes per pound of bird. This assumes that you’re starting with a fresh or fully thawed turkey. It’s important to check the temperature of your turkey to ensure that it’s properly cooked through.
How do you know when a turkey is done?
A turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey registers at least 165 degrees F. The thickest part of the turkey is typically in the bottom of the thigh, or at the thickest part of the breast. I usually check the temperature in both spots to be sure it’s correct. Make sure to avoid touching bone as this will give you an inaccurate temperature.
More holiday recipes you’ll enjoy
Dry Brined Turkey Video
Dry Brined Turkey
For the dry brine
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
For the turkey
- 12 lb turkey giblets and neck removed
- 1 lemon quartered
- 1 onion quartered
- 6 cloves garlic smashed
- 8 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- fresh herbs and fruit for garnish optional
For the dry brine
- Place the dry brine ingredients by a bowl, stir to combine.
For the turkey
- Pat the turkey dry. Rub the dry brine all over the outside of the turkey. Loosen the skin on the turkey breast and place some of the dry brine under the skin.
- Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and cover loosely. Let the turkey sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
- Uncover the turkey. Let it sit uncovered in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Tuck the wings of the turkey under the body.
- Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the lemon, onion and garlic.
- Place the butter and pepper in a bowl and stir until well combined.
- Spread the butter all over the turkey, both on top of and underneath the skin.
- Tie the turkey drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes or until turkey has started to turn golden brown.
- Reduce the heat to 350 degrees
- Bake for another 2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. I also check the thickest part of the breast to make sure that it's the correct temperature. If your turkey is getting too dark, you can cover the top with foil.
- Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and garnish with herbs and fruit if desired. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes, then slice and serve.