Dry Brining turkey is a much easier, more efficient way to prepare and tenderize a turkey before cooking. There is no need for a large gallon-sized bucket and it doesn’t require half of the space in your refrigerator. You only need to rub the turkey with the dry brine mixture, then place it in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours. The end result is a perfectly brined turkey ready to roast, grill, or deep-fry!

After dry-brining your turkey, head to our Oven Roasted Spatchcock Turkey Recipe or Maple Glazed Turkey to get all the tips on how to roast the best tender, juicy turkey! Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone of the turkey and cooking it flat, which results in a much faster cooking time. In 2 hours you have a perfectly roasted, juicy, tender, flavorful turkey. Perfect for Thanksgiving or holiday dinners! Learn how to spatchcock and dry brine in with our step-by-step video!

What Is Dry Brining?

Dry brining, also known as “pre-salting”, involves salting and resting pork, fish, poultry, or beef before cooking. The salt helps to draw the natural moisture out of the food, creating a wet brine that then is reabsorbed back into the food, breaking down any tough muscles. This helps to tenderize and flavor the food. The key to dry brining is salt and time!

Benefits of Dry Brining A Turkey:

  • Less Mess and Easy Clean-Up. No need for an oversized pot or large garbage bag.
  • Takes Up Much Less Space. Especially if you spatchcock your turkey because it will lay flat in the fridge.
  • Results In The Perfect Golden Crispy Skin When Roasted. As the salt is reabsorbed back into the skin, it leaves the surface drier, which results in perfectly browned crispy skin.
  • Makes The Meat More Tender. The salt helps break down the tough muscle fibers of the meat, resulting in tender meat when cooked.
  • More Flavorful. The salt penetrates the turkey meat, not just on the surface, which brings out the turkey’s natural flavor.
  • Perfect For Thanksgiving! Great if you are planning to serve turkey serving at Thanksgiving dinner.

Dry Brine Turkey Ingredients

  • Coarse Kosher Salt: You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt per 4 pounds of bird. Morton’s Kosher Salt is the preferred salt for dry brining. Diamond Crystal Kosher is popular as well, but the salt granules are smaller, so you will need to use less salt. DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. (It will result in an overly salty turkey)
  • Fresh Herbs: Use a mix of rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme.
  • Spices: You’ll need smoked paprika, garlic powder, Herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning or dried oregano), and black pepper.
  • Lemon Zest: You can use lemon zest or orange zest.
  • Turkey: Use a thawed turkey. Make sure the turkey is not pre-salted (a kosher turkey) or has been previously injected with salt solution (a self-basting turkey). Buy a natural or organic turkey. I like to get my turkey from ButcherBox!

PLEASE NOTE: Salt is the key to dry brining. While you can enhance the dry bring with spices, fresh herbs, citrus zest, and sugar, the most important component is salt. Any course salt will work. If you only have fine salt, then cut the amount of salt needed in half.

How To Dry Brine A Turkey

  1. Mix the spices, fresh herbs, citrus zest, and salt together to create the dry brine salt mixture. Set aside.
  2. Take the turkey out of the packaging and remove the giblet and neck from inside the cavity. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
  3. Use clean paper towels to pat dry the outside of the turkey. If you are spatchcocking the turkey, do so now.
  4. Using gloved hands, gently loosen the skin over the turkey breast, removing the thin membrane between the skin and breast, but still keeping the skin intact. Gently loosen the skin around the turkey legs as well.
  5. Start by seasoning the cavity. Take 2 (two) teaspoons of the mixture to season the cavity.
  6. Season under the skin of the turkey. Start by seasoning the legs and thighs (under the skin) using 2 teaspoons of the dry rub mixture. Then, season the breasts of the turkey (under the skin) using 2 (two) tablespoons of the mixture.
  7. Season the skin and wings. Use the remaining mixture to season all the skin, breasts, and wings.
  8. Place the turkey breasts side up on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan to capture any drippings or juices.
  9. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 day, but ideally 3 days. Do not pat the turkey dry or rinse it— it’s ready to be roasted, grilled, or deep-fried!
dry brining a spatchcock turkey

Pro Tips And Things To Know When Dry-Brining

  • USE THAWED TURKEY: It is best to dry brine a completely thawed turkey.
  • GET THE BRINE UNDER THE SKIN: While you want to brine the entire turkey, it is most important that the dry rub mixture goes directly on the skin, especially the turkey breasts, which tend to be the thickest part of the turkey.
  • BRINE AT LEAST 24 HOURS: The salt needs enough time to penetrate the skin and meat and tenderize the turkey. You can dry brine your turkey up to 72 hours in advance. We typically dry brine our turkey for 32 hours.
  • GLOVED HANDS WORK BEST: Use gloves when rubbing the dry brine mixture onto the turkey. This helps so that you can comfortably spread the brine in the cavity and under the skin of the turkey.
  • DO NOT RINSE: Do not rinse off the dry brine. This will reverse all of your hard work and the skin of the turkey will not brown as well once rinsed.
  • WHOLE OR CUT TURKEY CAN BE BRINED: You can dry brine a turkey whole, spatchcocked, or cut into sections.
  • ANY COOKING METHOD WORKS: After dry brining your turkey, you can roast it, grill it, or deep fry it. Cook the turkey using your favorite method.
  • SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY IS A GAMECHANGER: Spatchcock Turkey is our favorite way to cook a whole turkey. If you want to learn how to spatchcock and roast a turkey check out our post: Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe.
YouTube player

If you are making your turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner, make sure it is thawed by the Monday before Thanksgiving Thursday. Dry Brine your turkey on Monday, no later than Tuesday, so that it is ready for cooking by Thursday.

Dry Brine Spatchcocked (Butterflied) Turkey

How to thaw a turkey?

Place the turkey in the fridge to thaw. It generally takes 24 (twenty-four) hours for every five pounds of turkey to thaw, which means the average 16 (sixteen) pound turkey will take 4 (four) days to thaw. You can thaw a turkey quickly by submerging it in a cold water bath and changing the water every 30 minutes until it is completely thawed. Do not leave the turkey on the counter to thaw.

How Long Do You Dry Brine A Turkey?

Dry Brine a turkey for at least 24 hours, up to 72 hours.

Do You Rinse Off Dry Brine On Turkey?

No, it is best not to rinse the turkey after brining it. Don’t worry, the turkey will not be salty at all.

Is it better to wet or dry brine a turkey?

We think dry brine is ten times better! It’s more flavorful, more tender, and 1000 times easier than wet brining. The results are unmatched and the flavor is the best!

When dry brining a turkey should you cover it?

If you are dry brining your turkey for less than 36 hours, you can leave it in the fridge uncovered. This helps the skin of the turkey to properly dry out. If you want to cover it in aluminum foil, you can do so, but make sure to cover it loosely and do not seal the foil.

We hope you enjoy the dry brine turkey recipe and tips! If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram and Pinterest! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.

More Turkey Recipes To Try

How To Dry Brine Turkey

Dry Brining turkey is a much easier, more efficient way to prepare and tenderize a turkey before cooking. There is no need for a large gallon-sized bucket and it doesn't require half of the space in your refrigerator. You only need to rub the turkey with the dry brine mixture, then place it in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours. The end result is a perfectly brined turkey ready to roast, grill, or deep-fry!
4.96 from 44 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
1 day
Total Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Servings: 1 Whole Turkey
Calories: 8kcal
Author: Capri Lilly

Ingredients

  • 12-14 lb Turkey, giblets and neck removed (defrosted if frozen)

For The Dry Brine

  • 4 tbsp Kosher Salt Or Coarse Grain Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning or Dried Oregano)
  • 1 tbsp Freshly Crushed Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Zest or orange zest
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme

Instructions

  • Mix the spices, fresh herbs, citrus zest, and salt together to create the dry brine salt mixture. Set aside.
  • Take the turkey out of the packaging and remove the giblet and neck from inside the cavity. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
  • Use clean paper towels to pat dry the outside of the turkey. If you are spatchcocking the turkey, do so now.
  • Using gloved hands, gently loosen the skin over the turkey breast, removing the thin membrane between the skin and breast, but still keeping the skin intact. Gently loosen the skin around the turkey legs as well.
  • Start by seasoning the cavity. Take 2 (two) teaspoons of the mixture to season the cavity.
  • Season under the skin of the turkey. Start by seasoning the legs and thighs (under the skin) using 2 teaspoons of the dry rub mixture. Then, season the breasts of the turkey (under the skin) using 2 (two) tablespoons of the mixture.
  • Season the skin and wings. Use the remaining mixture to season all the skin, breasts, and wings.
  • Place the turkey breast side up on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan to capture any drippings or juices.
  • Refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 day, but ideally 3 days. Do not pat the turkey dry or rinse it— it's ready to be roasted, grilled, or deep-fried!

Notes

  • Coarse Kosher Salt: You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt per 4 pounds of bird. Morton’s Kosher Salt is the preferred salt for dry brining. Diamond Crystal Kosher is popular as well, but the salt granules are smaller, so you will need to use less salt. DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. (It will result in an overly salty turkey)
  • Turkey: Use a thawed turkey. Make sure the turkey is not pre-salted (a kosher turkey) or has been previously injected with salt solution (a self-basting turkey). (USING EITHER WILL RESULT IN AN OVERLY SALTY TURKEY)

Pro Tips And Things To Know When Dry-Brining

  • USE THAWED TURKEY: It is best to dry brine a completely thawed turkey.
  • GET THE BRINE UNDER THE SKIN: While you want to brine the entire turkey, it is most important that the dry rub mixture goes directly on the skin, especially the turkey breasts, which tend to be the thickest part of the turkey.
  • BRINE AT LEAST 24 HOURS: The salt needs enough time to penetrate the skin and meat and tenderize the turkey. You can dry brine your turkey up to 72 hours in advance. We typically dry brine our turkey for 32 hours.
  • DO NOT RINSE: Do not rinse off the dry brine. This will reverse all of your hard work and the skin of the turkey will not brown as well once rinsed.
  • ANY COOKING METHOD WORKS: After dry brining your turkey, you can roast it, grill it, or deep fry it. Cook the turkey using your favorite method.
  • SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY IS A GAMECHANGER: Spatchcock Turkey is our favorite way to cook a whole turkey. If you want to learn how to spatchcock and roast a turkey check out our post: Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe.
 
Calories are for dry brine mixture only. goodfoodbaddie.com offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you used to make the recipe. For more information read our Nutritional Disclaimer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.8g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2327mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 0.3g | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe very easy to make and love the way is explained in detail, step by step.
    Thank you very much. And may God bless you all.

  2. 5 stars
    Wow. Used this recipe and spatchcocked our turkey. Easily the best tasting and easiest preparation Thanksgiving turkey in my 59 years on earth!! Thanks for the recipe!!

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