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Dry-Brined Turkey


Brining roast poultry makes a tremendous difference, but it can be messy, and is always a challenge in regard to refrigerator space. This recipe claims to win out over wet-brined turkeys in taste tests (flavor, moistness, crispy skin). I haven't tried it yet, but I will!

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Rate this recipe 4.6/5 (8 Votes)


  • 14 - to 16-pound turkey, thawed
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (for roasting)


Servings 8
Adapted from


Step 1

Rinse the turkey under cold water, then dry it thoroughly with paper towels, inside and out.

Stir together the salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl, then rub the mixture all over the outside of the turkey and inside the cavity. Carefully pull the skin away from the breasts, just enough so that you can rub the brine underneath. Put the turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 12 hours (overnight).

Preheat oven to 500°F and position a rack on the bottom shelf. Make sure there’s enough room for your turkey; take all the other racks out if you have to. Let your butter come to room temperature on the counter while you prepare the turkey.

Rinse the turkey it under cold water to wash away the brine, then dry it thoroughly with paper towels, inside and out. Place the turkey breast side up in a large turkey roasting pan with a rack and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Rub softened butter all over the breast meat of the turkey, carefully pulling the skin away from the breasts to rub butter underneath. Tie the legs together with a long piece of butcher’s twine, then wrap the ends around both sides of the turkey and tie them tightly at the top, right where the turkey’s neck used to be. Tuck the wings underneath the twine.

Add a cup of water to the pan and roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 500°F. (Starting the turkey at a super high temperature makes for crispier skin.) After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°F and continue to roast the turkey for 1½ to 2 hours more, turning the roasting pan after an hour, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155°F.

When the turkey is done, let it rest for at least 20 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board, carve, and serve.

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