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dry brine roasted turkey
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 15 mins

Dry brining a turkey is the easiest way to enjoy a delicious moist turkey at your holiday table.  You'll amaze your guests and you'll be sharing my secrets on How to Dry Brine a Turkey with your family and friends.

Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16
Calories: 462 kcal
Author: Chef Dennis Littley
Dry Brine Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt coarse grain sea salt may be used
  • 1 tbsp coarse grind black pepper
  • 1 tbsp thyme finely chopped fresh or dry
  • 1 tbsp sage finely chopped fresh or dry
  • 1 tbsp clementine peel finely zested any citrus may be used
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika optional
Roasting Turkey
  • 1-2 carrots rough cut
  • 1 onion rough cut
  • 3-4 stalks celery rough cut
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 16-20 lb turkey fresh or frozen
Prep and Dry Brinining
  1. Mix the dry brine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside

  2. Remove the turkey from the wrapping and remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity and save for another use. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.

  3. Rinse the entire turkey in cold water thoroughly.  Then pat the turkey dry using paper towels, inside and out.  


  4. Using your hands, gently loosen the skin over the breast and separate it from the meat, making sure to break through the thin membrane between the skin and breast while leaving the skin itself intact.

  5. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey and rub it into the cavity.

  6. Rub 4 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the breasts (under the skin).  Then sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over all the skin of both the breasts, legs and wings

  7. Place the turkey breast-side up in a roasting pan.  Cover the turkey securely using plastic wrap, or place it into a small plastic bag and seal it, removing as much of the air as possible.   Refrigerate for 48 - 60 hours.

  8. After the time has expired, uncover the turkey and allow it to remain uncovered and refrigerated for 8-12 hours.  

The Secret to Roasting
  1. Allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting.

  2. In the bottom of your roasting pan add roughly cut celery, onions, garlic and carrots.  Include the skin from the onion and carrots.   Add 1 cup of chicken stock or water to the pan.

  3. Place the turkey upside down on a rack in roasting pan.   This will self baste the breast as the fat from the underside and dark meat flow into the breast.  This will help keep the turkey from being dry .

  4. Preheat oven to 425º.  Brush the turkey with melted butter and roast upside down for 45 minutes.  At the end of that time very carefully turn the turkey over with the breast side up to continue cooking.   ( I used heat resistant gloves)

    Decrease oven temperature to 325º.   Cook the turkey until it reaches the temp of 165º for the breast and 175º for the thighs.   The meat will rise an additional 10º continuing to cook as it rests.

    *My 20-pound turkey only took an additional 3 hours to cook using this method.  Make sure to check your turkey around the 2 1/2 hour mark.   

  5. Allow the turkey to rest 30 - 60 minutes before slicing.  This will ensure that the juices stay in the turkey and don't all run out as you slice it.  

Recipe Notes

Dry Brining Turkey Tips

Nutrition Facts
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Amount Per Serving
Calories 462 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 28%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 231mg 77%
Sodium 1677mg 70%
Potassium 773mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 1g 0%
Protein 69g 138%
Vitamin A 18.8%
Vitamin C 2.2%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 16.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.