Learn how to dry brine a turkey with this simple tutorial. Dry brine turkey comes out so moist and juicy all thanks to the salting and resting process of a dry brine.
What is a dry brine?
A dry brine refers to the salting and resting of meat.
Salting: adding salt to the outside of a piece of meat, typically directly onto the meat itself.
Resting: allowing the meat to sit and soak in the salt for a long period of time
When it comes to turkey/poultry, salting the outside of the bird is important because it will actually draw out moisture and absorb back into the flesh so that the meat comes out tender and juicy.
Why should I dry brine my Thanksgiving turkey?
Dry brining is an excellent way to make sure your Thanksgiving turkey comes out both moist and flavorful. By allowing your turkey to rest with salt on it, it actually draws out moisture and allows it to soak back in, leaving your turkey tender and delicious.
Dry Brine vs. Wet Brine
A wet brine is similar, but you actually soak the piece of meat in salted water for a long period of time to achieve a similar effect of tender and juicy meat.
When it comes to dry brining vs. wet brining, it’s all about preference. We personally think dry brining is easier!
What You Need to Dry Brine a Turkey
- Kosher salt: we prefer to use kosher salt for dry brining, but other salts can be used as well.
- Other spices: we like to add additional flavor to our turkey dry brine with salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried rosemary.
Why we prefer kosher salt
The reason we like to use kosher salt is because it has larger crystals and does not clump! If you’ve ever gotten your hands wet/moist and touched normal table salt, you’ll notice it clumps really easily.
Make sure to have an airtight container or plastic bag large enough to fit your turkey. We typically keep things simple and just use a grocery bag.
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Wondering how to dry brine turkey? Here is a quick tutorial on how to do so. For the full recipe, scroll all the way down to the recipe card.
- Prep Turkey: first things first, remove the turkey from its packaging and pat it dry. Then remove any innards.
- Combine spices: combine salt and spices in a small bowl.
- Brine turkey: lift up the skin from the turkey and rub the salt mixture onto the flesh. Make sure to get all parts of the turkey — breast, legs, wings, etc.
- Let rest for at least 12 hours: transfer the dry brined turkey into a large plastic bag and let it sit for at least 12 hours or overnight.
How long should I let my dry brine turkey rest?
We recommend letting your dry brine turkey rest for at least 12 hours, but it can stay in the fridge for up to 72.
You’ve Dry Brined, Now What?
Now that your turkey has rested for at least 12 hours, it’s time to prep and bake as desired! We have lots of great Thanksgiving turkey recipes on Fit Foodie Finds and dry brine works for all of them.
Roasted Turkey: check out our classic Roasted Thanksgiving turkey recipe. While it calls for a wet brine, simply switch that step out for this turkey dry brine.
Smoked Turkey: our smoked turkey is a reader favorite! It does call for a wet brine, but simply swap it out for this dry brine.
Spatchcock Turkey: spatchcocking a turkey is one of our favorite cooking methods because it cooks super fast. Our spatchcock turkey actually uses this exact dry brine.
Smoked Turkey Legs: while turkey legs are already made with juicy dark meat, a dry brine would do wonders for flavor!
A dry brine is really all about the salt, so you can add other flavors and spices to the mix to really make it your own. Here are some spice ideas to flavor things your way:
- Italian seasoning
- Dried oregano
- Dried rosemary
How to Wet Brine a Turkey
Learn how to wet brine a turkey using water, salt, and other herbs and spices!
Dry Brine Turkey Recipe
- Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove any innards from the inside of the turkey. Set aside.
- Add the kosher salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary to a small bowl and mix until combined.
- Separate the skin from the turkey meat and rub the salt mixture under the skin of the turkey. Be sure to rub the breasts, legs, and wings.
- Place the turkey in a large plastic bag or air tight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight.
- Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and discard any excess liquid. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Follow your favorite method for cooking Thanksgiving turkey.
Tips & Notes
- This is enough brine for a 12-14 lb. turkey.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.