Perfect Dry Brined Roasted Turkey
This Perfect Dry Brined Roasted Turkey recipe will result in a beautifully browned, moist and delicious turkey every time. Although it takes a few days, it’s easy, inexpensive and full of flavor. You will never have to worry again if your turkey will be moist, flavorful or brown.
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I’ve made Thanksgiving turkey a few times now and although I continue to get better at the process, I still had not found my favorite way to prepare and cook the bird to get the perfect results. Until now. I will always use this Perfect Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey recipe going forward.
Last year, I brined my turkey in a wet brine for a few days. The turkey turned out fine but here is what I did NOT like:
- We had to find a vessel big enough to hold a whole turkey and a ton of liquid for 3 days.
- I had to find space in my fridge for the said vessel.
- Every time I had to turn the turkey in the brine, I had to wrestle the cold heavy turkey a few times.
- My turkey turned out just ok after roasting it and did not brown as much as I wanted.
Whew. That was exhausting just typing that. So, this year I decided to come up with a dry brine and let me tell you, it was so much easier. And tastier. And browner… which is what I wanted. I looked through a bunch of recipes and ended up coming up with my own mix using all of the things I like. That’s the great things about a dry brine, you can basically put whatever you want in it.
Notes: I strongly suggest using FRESH herbs and kosher salt. This mix was enough for a 10 lb. turkey but could probably cover up to about 14 lbs. Lastly, remember this a recipe for a few days of brining and drying so plan ahead! For Thanksgiving, I started with a thawed out turkey on Monday morning and everything was ready to go by Thursday morning.
Don’t forget about the leftovers!
After you make this delicious Dry Brined Turkey, you will most likely have leftovers. Some people even think the leftovers from Thanksgiving or a turkey dinner are even better than the meal itself! The last thing you will want to do is think about what to do with your leftovers after cooking such a large meal, but you are in luck…I’ve done the planning for you! Check out my post-Easy Turkey Leftover Recipes where I walk you through planning for leftovers and give you 3 recipe ideas for what to make with the leftovers so you aren’t having the same meal over and over again,
Perfect Dry Brined Roasted Turkey
- roasting pan with rack
- meat thermometer
- large brining plastic bag
- cooking twine
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 large orange, zested
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 10-12 lb turkey, thawed completely
- 1 large lemon, quartered
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into eighths
- 1 handful fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage
- kosher salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
Dry Brine- 3 days ahead of serving
Day 1 (Monday before Thanksgiving)
- Place all dry brine ingredients in a large bowl and combine together.
- Rinse and dry the turkey. Make sure you remove any giblets inside and get any leftover feathers that were missed. I use paper towels to dry the bird. Place your turkey in a roasting pan (you don't need the rack yet), and rub all over with brine mix. Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies and the inside too! Wrap the entire pan with a large roasting bag or cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. I found a roasting bag at the dollar store and it worked perfectly!
Day 2 (Tuesday before Thanksgiving)
- Open the bag or uncover and flip the bird over. Rub any mix that fell off over bird, re-wrap and place back in the refrigerator.
Day 3 (Wednesday before Thanksgiving)
- Take the bag or wrap off the turkey, flip one more time and allow the turkey to dry out in the fridge uncovered.
Day 4 (Thanksgiving day!)
- Remove the turkey from the fridge and pat dry removing any excess brine. Place on counter and allow it to warm up for at least an hour before cooking.
Roasting the Turkey
- Preheat your oven to 425° and move rack all the way to the bottom of the oven. Pat turkey dry one more time and place lemon pieces, onion pieces and fresh herbs inside the cavity. Tie legs together with twine and place on roasting rack breast side up. Make sure legs are all tightly snug next to the turkey. Brush the turkey with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place roasting pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes at 425°. This is how you get crispy skin!
- Lower oven temp to 325° and continue to cook for 2-21/2 more hours. Check internal temp at the thickest part of the thigh, it's ready at 165°. My 10 lb. turkey took just 2 more hours to cook.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and place the rack on a baking sheet (you are going to use drippings from roasting pan for gravy). Cover with foil and allow it to rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving. This is the perfect amount of time to make the delicious gravy!
Homemade Turkey Gravy from Drippings
- fat separator
- medium-large saucepan
- fine mesh sieve
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, cut into strips
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 6 tbsp flour
- 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable or turkey stock)
- 2 tbsp brandy (optional, but adds depth)
- 10 large fresh sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Place the butter in a med-large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 15 minutes, until the onion becomes nice and brown. Stir in the flour and continue to cook for one minute.
- Stir in the flour and continue to cook for one minute.
- Add the chicken stock, brandy, sage leaves, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon of pepper and continue to stir (don't add salt yet because you want to see how salty your drippings are). Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the gravy base from the heat and allow it to cool for one hour. Strain the cooled mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and set it aside or in the refrigerator if making it ahead of time.
- If you are making ahead of time, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming.
Dripping and Finishing Steps
- After your turkey has roasted, remove it from the roasting pan and allow it to rest. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a large saucepan. Use a spoon to scrape off as much of the cooked-on bits as you can (this is where the flavor is!) and also put them in the saucepan. Add the wine and stir over medium-high heat.
- Pour the prepared base into the saucepan stir until nice and thick. Taste to see if it needs any salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a fat separator and allow the liquid to separate before putting it into a serving dish. This takes just a few minutes as it cools.
- Place the gravy in a serving bowl or gravy dish and enjoy!
- Store leftover gravy in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- You can make the base of the gravy ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to go. I found this wasn’t really necessary because I had just the right amount of time to make everything while my turkey was resting.
- Recipe inspired by Ina Garten.
If you like this Perfect Dry Brined Roasted Turkey recipe, check out some more of my dinner recipes below:
- Simple Whole Roasted Chicken
- Healthy Shrimp Ceviche
- Instant Pot Carnitas
- Instant Pot Mexican Shredded Beef
- Easy Pizza Dough
After you eat all that glorious turkey, you might need a warm drink to end the day. Try my Boozy Hot Apple Cider recipe! It is the perfect drink for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just a cold night!