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whole cooked turkey on a white platter with oranges and sage

Dry Brine Turkey - The Easiest Method for Perfect Turkey Every Time

No more messy wet solutions or dry white meat on Thanksgiving Day. This method is full-proof and easy, delivering juicy, perfectly-cooked turkey each and every time.
4.73 from 11 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Resting Time 4 d
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thanksgiving
Servings 16
Calories 8 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 18-20 pound turkey or any size you choose

Brine

  • 3.5 tablespoons kosher salt (1 tablespoon for every 5 pounds of turkey)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • zest half of an orange
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage, thyme, or rosemary optional

Roasted Turkey

  • 1-2 quartered oranges
  • a few sprigs sage, thyme, or rosemary
  • 1-2 tablespoons high heat oil such as canola or grapeseed

Instructions
 

To Dry Brine:

  • Prepare your salt mixture based on the ratio of 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to every 5 pounds of turkey. If you are adding other flavors as I suggest, mix them all together in a small bowl using your hands to infuse the salt with the herbs and spices. Or you can put it in a mortar and pestle to combine.
  • Be sure you have your brining bag ready to go and your pan fits in your fridge and is big enough for the turkey.
  • Clean your turkey. I check for feathers and remove the neck and giblet packets. Generally the turkey I buy is clean and ready to go. I used to give it a rinse but recommendations now are to not rinse your raw chicken or turkey. I still pat it dry and then apply the salt mixture. First to the bottom of the bird and then all over the breast, sides, wings, and thighs. Rub it on especially well all over the breast area.
  • If there is another human in the house, have them open up the bag nice and wide so you can slip the turkey in. Close it up, put it in the roasting pan and put it in the fridge breast side up. (I put it in a pan so it is easy to move around and I'm not trying to hold onto an oddly shaped bird)
  • The day before Thanksgiving, flip it onto its breast. 
  • The day of Thanksgiving, flip it back to breast side up, take it out of the bag and let it sit in the fridge uncovered until 1 hour before you plan to roast it.
  • You do not need to rinse the salt off the turkey. Place it on a rack in your roasting pan.

To Roast the Turkey:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees convect or 475 degrees conventional. Be sure your racks are set so the turkey pan will fit!
  • Rub some oil over the outside of the turkey to aid in browning. 
  • Put some aromatics in the cavity – the sliced oranges and herbs of choice.
  • Before you put the turkey into the oven, form a foil cover that fits the breast so you can protect it from burning after the high heat portion of the cooking.
  • When the oven comes to temperature, place the turkey in and let it brown for up to 30 minutes. I like to check it at 20 minutes. Remember every oven is different. You want to see it getting brown all over the outside and start hearing the sizzling of some fat dripping off. 
  • Then turn the oven down to 325 convect or 350 conventional. Place the foil protector on the breast, insert the temperature probe if you are using one and let it cook until the breast reaches 151 degrees. **
  • When you remove the bird and let it rest, it will continue to cook. We have found 151 to yield a perfectly cooked turkey all over from breast to dark meat, year after year.

Notes

** The recommendation for safe temperature for cooked turkey meat is 165 degrees internal temperature. And most recipes tell you to take it out between 155 degrees and 161 degrees. For us, 151 degrees works. A large bird keeps cooking even more than a smaller one and we usually let it sit as long as 45 minutes because of cooking sides and gravy. Thanks to the dry brine, it is harder to end up with a dry bird. But you have to adjust your final cooking temperature to your size bird and oven. For sure - once it reaches 151, the temp goes up very quickly. So watch it closely at the very final stage. 

Nutrition

Calories: 8kcalSodium: 1526mgPotassium: 2mgVitamin A: 60IUCalcium: 1mg
Keyword dry brine turkey, roast turkey, Thanksgiving
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