Dry brine turkey comes out so moist and juicy all thanks to the salting and resting process of a dry brine. We swear by this method for creating super flavorful and moist turkey for Thanksgiving!
If you are used to wet brining your Thanksgiving turkey, we’re here to change your mind with a simple turkey dry brine recipe! A dry brine refers to the salting and resting of meat. 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.
Our recipe is so simple and made with just 4 ingredients –> kosher salt, pepper, dried thyme, and dried rosemary.
A Quick Rundown on How to Dry Brine Turkey
Season: Combine the salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme, and then rub it all over your raw Thanksgiving turkey, covering every part of the bird.
Rest: Allow the meat to rest in the fridge 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.
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!
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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.
- Storage container: 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.
- Turkey: this recipe is enough for around a 14 lb. untreated turkey,
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.
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 Serve Your Dry Brine Turkey
As you can see by the photos of this recipe, we spatchcocked and roasted our Thanksgiving turkey and it came out SO delicious — crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Below are some Thanksgiving side recommendations for your turkey.
How to Dry Brine Turkey
- 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.
Tips & Notes
- This is enough brine for a 12-14 lb. turkey.
- We recommend letting your turkey brine in the fridge for at least 12 hours or up to 72. You can begin the brining process while your turkey is partly thawed, but make sure it is fully thawed before cooking.
- 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.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.