Dry Brined Turkey

I’ve only ever used one turkey brining recipe–Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey. I prepared my first-ever turkey this way and it turned out so well, I never bothered looking at another recipe again.

Fast forward to last night, as I was browsing the world wide web before bed. Out of nowhere, the words “dry brined turkey” caught my scrolling eye and before I knew it, I changed my upcoming turkey cooking plans. *gasp* I never thought I’d see this day.

Although I adore Alton Brown and do exactly what he as told me to over the years (via his Good Eats show, not in real life), I’ve hated the big fat mess that wet brining creates. I have a morbid fear of E. coli and salmonella and all those gallons of contaminated turkey juice freak me out so badly that I have to go outside and hose down anything the raw turkey has touched.

This new dry brining method sounded too tidy and simple for me to pass up, so I went and picked up my fresh, local, and pre-ordered Branigan turkey this morning and went to town. So far so good and I can’t wait to see how it turns out on Thursday. I’ll post a blog update on the pros and cons of each method after I digest my dinner.

**Note: This particular method calls for three days of brining, but I’ve seen others requiring less time. And if you’re really tight on time, just use the rub and pop the bird in the oven. I won’t judge, I promise. πŸ™‚

Adapted from Food52

Dry Brined Turkey

Dry Rub:

For one 12 lb. turkey

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage

Remove the rosemary and sage leaves from their stems and add to a food processor along with the sale and peppercorns. Blend until everything is finely chopped.


Wash the turkey inside and out and pat it dry.

Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with the rub. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest.

Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

Place the turkey in a 2 1/2-gallon sealable plastic bag. Press out the air and seal tightly. (If you can’t find a resealable bag this big, you can use a turkey oven bag, but be prepared for it to leak.) Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day. Rub the salt around once a day if you remember.

Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pat it dry one last time and baste with melted butter, if using. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it’s easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

Bailey is so nosy.
Bailey is so nosy.
I have two food processors. I love this little one for smaller jobs.
I have two food processors. I love this little one for smaller jobs.
Smells so fresh!
Smells so fresh!
Ugh. I hate touching raw turkey.
Ugh. I hate touching raw turkey.
Rub a dub dub.
Rub a dub dub.
Make sure to massage the rub in as well as you can.
Make sure to massage the rub in as well as you can.
So far I'm liking this method better. No need for the gargantuan Gatorade style cooler you see at sports games. Mine can happily continue collecting dust in the garage this year.
So far I’m liking this method better. No need for the gargantuan Gatorade style cooler you see at sports games. Mine can happily continue collecting dust in the garage this year.
It's so pretty!
It’s so pretty! Into the fridge you go, bowl and all. No leaky turkey juices for me!
To be continued...
To be continued…













  1. i love dry brined turkey or chicken mush more thanwet brine…
    btw, i like to ‘vaccum’ it by submerged the chicken/turkey in the water partially and let the air is out of the pastic bag then tide up/zip the bag end…
    this cheap ‘vaccum’ sealed made the marinade penetrate even better to the meat…

  2. Reblogged this on Patty Nguyen and commented:

    I picked up my fresh, free-range turkey yesterday and started prepping it for our turkey day dinner. I tried this dry brine recipe last year and decided it’s a keeper. I had previously only wet brined my bird, but I’ve been converted! (See here for my comparison of the two: https://pattynguyen.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/dry-brine-vs-wet-brine-verdict/ ) This year I added a few thyme springs, smoked paprika, and a tablespoon of sugar to round out the flavors. Can’t wait to roast it on Thursday! πŸ˜€

  3. Oooh that looks really good. I am a just pop in the oven kind of girl but this makes me want to make more effort. I love little baileys face popping up at the side and I’m very jealous of your spice/herb chopper πŸ™‚

  4. Love this idea for a dry brined version. Looks so much easier than doing it wet. I’ve honestly never tried to roast a whole turkey, probably because it’s too hot to bother by Christmas in Oz, but I definitely want to try this out πŸ™‚

  5. Wow I can’t wait to see the rest! I will make this the day I have an oven thats big enough… I love how Bailey has managed to sneak himself into the 1st photo πŸ™‚

  6. I can get on board with this big time, I don’t really like slimy bird juices either! I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving and hey, if you’re in the Big Sur area we’ll be there Thursday Friday and Saturday . . . . πŸ™‚ BTW I wonder if you could cook a turkey in a bread cloche . . . ?

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