Dry Brined Turkey
Nov 08, 2022, Updated Nov 19, 2023
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Skip the fussy wet brine for turkey and get the most delicious, flavorful crispy turkey skin without altering the texture and taste of turkey meat with this super easy recipe for a dry turkey brine!
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Easy Refrigerated Dry Brined Turkey
Dry brining turkey is the easiest way to prep a turkey before a big meal – since there is no worrying about keeping a turkey at temperature in a cooler or having to keep it on ice and worrying it will be too warm – you can simply wrap it in plastic wrap after seasoning with salt and pop it right back in the fridge!
This turkey isn’t just easy to prep, it is flavorful, and the meat doesn’t get weirdly watery or have a funny texture – it stays moist, and full of rich meaty flavor. This turkey is juicy, with the most amazing crispy, crunchy skin – and you can use any method you wish to roast it after dry brining – even deep frying! I personally love using the Brown Bag Turkey method, or smoking turkey.
I hope you love this method for dry brining turkey as much as I do!
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
To dry brine a turkey, you will need:
- Kosher salt – kosher salt works through reverse osmosis to first pull the turkey’s natural juices out of the meat and mix with herbs and pepper, then helps them soak back into the turkey, resulting in an evenly seasoned turkey that stays tender, moist, and delicious – without liquid brine that can give turkey an odd texture and flavor.
- Pepper – black pepper brings a subtle, balanced spice to dishes without overpowering lighter meats like poultry and brings a bit of dimension, a hint of smoky flavor, and helps turkey taste less bland.
- Herbs – this is where you get to be creative! You can use a simple Italian herbs seasoning blend for a classic flavor, or use any kind of herbs or seasonings you’d like. For turkey with a bit of a citrus kick, you can use herb mixes with lemon or orange peel in them – you can use garlic power, ginger, cumin, oregano, thyme, basil, za’atar, blackening spices, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, turmeric – the sky is the limit!
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Mix. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, and herbs well.
- Prep. Pat turkey dry, remove giblets, loosen skin so you can place salt underneath.
- Season. Cover bird in salt, pepper, and herb mixture – get salt all over turkey, under skin, and in cavity. Season all over bird.
- Wrap. Wrap turkey in plastic wrap or place in large plastic bag.
- Refrigerate. Refrigerate to dry brine for 1-3 days.
- Roast turkey. Use whatever method you’d like to roast your turkey! We love using this Herb Roasted Brown Bag Turkey.
Tips and Tricks For Perfect Dry Brined Turkey
Don’t use a kosher or pre-brined turkey. These will already have been salted, so if you brine them, you will be making a quite salty turkey!
How does dry brining work? Dry brining works through reverse osmosis – the salt sinks through the meat, allowing the salt to first draw out the turkey’s natural juices, then reabsorb them into the turkey, for a naturally flavorful bird without adding liquid that will change the texture of your turkey.
Any type of turkey works. This method works with turkey breast, turkey legs or cut-up turkeys – like our spatchcocked turkey.
Find the right amount of salt and herbs you need. For every five pounds of turkey, you need one tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (or 1 tablespoon of fresh diced herbs), plus 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. You can use this calculation to make turkey breast, drumsticks, or wings – or even to dry brine whole roasted chicken and cornish game hens!
Watch turkey cook time – we’ve found dry brining does result in just a bit faster cooking. Dry brining turkey can reduce cook time by 1/4 to 1/3 – so be sure to monitor the temperature of your turkey as you cook, no matter how you are preparing it!
Let your turkey dry brine in the refrigerator, covered in plastic, for 1-3 days.
You can cook a dry brined turkey any way you would prepare a brined turkey – frying, roasting, smoking – and with any flavor. Don’t brine again.
While you can technically dry brine a frozen turkey, the brine won’t fully absorb into the meat when frozen, so it is best to dry brine fully thawed turkey.
Turkey should thaw 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat.
You can keep a dry brined turkey in a cooler like you would a brined turkey – but as you aren’t keeping this turkey in liquid, it requires a lot less space, and is best kept in the refrigerator so that you can keep the temperature even and don’t have to worry about refilling ice and checking the cooler temperature like regular brining.
Using a coarse salt is important to this recipe – if using a fine, iodized salt, you need to reduce the salt you are using by half, or your turkey will be very salty.
What to Serve With Dry Brined Turkey
If you’re looking for delicious, hearty, family-pleasing Thanksgiving side dishes to make this year, we have you covered.
We love creative takes on Thanksgiving classics like our Cheeseburger Stuffing, Easy Grilled Carrots, and Roasted Parmesan Green Beans – or a tangy, lightly sweet Cranberry Pecan Salad, Baked Scalloped Corn with crunchy cornflakes, or our irresistible Yeast Rolls.
You can find our entire Thanksgiving Recipe Index.
Dry Turkey Brine Recipe
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- 1 10-pound turkey, thawed (see notes below to calculate different brine for turkey sizes)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs ( 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs if using fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, and herbs well.
- Pat turkey dry, remove giblets, loosen skin so you can place salt underneath.
- Cover turkey in salt, pepper, and herb mixture - get salt all over turkey, under skin, and in cavity. Season all over bird.
- Wrap turkey in plastic wrap or place in large plastic bag, and refrigerate to dry brine for 1-3 days.
- Use whatever method you'd like to roast your turkey! We love using this Herb Roasted Brown Bag Turkey.
- Watch turkey cook time - we've found dry brining does result in just a bit faster cooking. Dry brining turkey can reduce cook time by 1/4 to 1/3 - so be sure to monitor the temperature of your turkey as you cook, no matter how you are preparing it!
To change the brine based on the size of your turkey: for every five pounds of turkey, you need one tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (or 1 tablespoon of fresh diced herbs), plus 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 715Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 412mgSodium 1019mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 108g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.