How to Dry Brine a Turkey
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.
Dry Brine Ingredients
- 3 tbsp coarse kosher salt I use Morton's 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
- 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
- rough cut onion, carrot, sage, thyme and orange skin for inside the turkey (optional)
Prep and Dry Brining
Mix the dry brine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside
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.
If you can follow safe procedures, rinse the entire turkey in cold water thoroughly. Then pat the turkey dry using paper towels, inside and out. The FDA Does Not Recommend Rinsing Turkeys. If you do rinse your turkey make sure to clean and sanitize the counters, sink, faucet and any areas possibly exposed.
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.
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey and rub it into the cavity.
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
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.
After the time has expired, uncover the turkey and allow it to remain uncovered and refrigerated for 8-12 hours.
- Don't buy a preseasoned or kosher turkey (pre-salted) or self-basting turkeys. I always look for free-roaming or a heritage bird. But most importantly no added salt.
- Make sure your turkey is thawed if you buy a frozen turkey. Buy your turkey early enough so that it’s thawed and ready to brine on the Monday before Thanksgiving.
- It doesn't have to be a whole turkey, you can dry brine a turkey breast.
- Getting under the skin of the turkey and applying the brine directly to the meat will make a tastier, moister turkey. If you're only going to brine the skin, add an extra day to the process.
- Don't rush dry brining. To enjoy the best turkey you'll ever have, you need to give it enough time to be effective. 3 Days really is the minimum, 4 is even better especially if you're working with a 20 pound plus bird.
- You can use any herbs that you like, but the salt really does matter. Use Kosher Salt for the best results. Salt that is too fine will make the bird too salty. Kosher salt, say it out loud, twice.
- The standard is 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 pounds of turkey, but I like to go a little below that at 1 tablespoon of salt for every 6 lbs. So if you're turkey is smaller adjust the amount of salt and herbs.
- Add more water to roasting pan if necessary to prevent pan drippings from burning.
- If you absolutely don't have Kosher Salt and have to use Regular Salt decrease the amount of the salt by 1/3.
Directions for a 12 pound Turkey
For a 12 pound turkey cut the seasoning mix by one-third and adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes inverted at 425, and 1.5 – 2 hours at 325.
Directions for a 6-7 pound Turkey Breast
For a 6-7 pound Turkey Breast use one-third of the brine ingredients. The roasting time will be, 20 minutes at 425 and about 1 hour at 325. It could be a little less so I would check the internal temp at the 45-minute mark of the 325 stage of roasting.
Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 69g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 231mg | Sodium: 1677mg | Potassium: 773mg | Vitamin A: 940IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg