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Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brine Turkey

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This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.

This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.
Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brine Turkey

Want an easy roast turkey recipe that’s moist and flavorful? Try dry brining! Rather than wet brining a turkey, dry brining is so much easier and less messy! This is how I am making my turkey again this year, my third year in a row! It’s seasoning with salt and fresh herbs and comes out wonderful. It takes 4 days to brine, but I am starting one day late (today) which is perfectly fine! And if you don’t need to make a whole turkey, you might love this stuffed turkey breast or this slow cooker turkey breast recipe.

This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.

Making a turkey in a Wolf oven

 

Making a turkey in a Wolf oven.

Choosing the right size Thanksgiving turkey

A good rule of thumb is to estimate at least 1 lb to 1 1/2 lbs per person so you’ll have extra and enough for leftovers.

Fresh or Frozen?

Whether you use a fresh or frozen turkey for dry-brining, start with a bird that has no seasoning in it at all. Avoid kosher turkeys, which have been pre-salted, as well as self-basting turkeys, which have been injected with a salt solution.

Fresh – One of the pros of using a fresh bird is there’s no need to thaw. A fresh bird will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Some people think it’s more flavorful than a frozen bird.

Frozen – Typically more affordable and can be purchased weeks in advance. It does however require thawing time. If the turkey is frozen solid when you buy it, it will need approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw completely. For quicker thawing, place the turkey in a cold water bath and change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed.

Defrosting a turkey

Fridge – if you have more time, allow the turkey to thaw in the fridge in it’s original packaging. Allow 24 hours of thawing for every 5 lbs of bird.

Cold Water Bath – If you’re short on time, submerge the bird in a cold water bath changing the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of bird.

What is a dry brine?

A dry brine is an herb and salt rub applied directly to the turkey. This creates satiny leg meat and juicy, perfectly seasoned breast meat. Air-drying the turkey on the last day of the 4-day process will make the skin crisp when roasted.

Dry Brine Turkey Spices and Variations

You can play around with the herbs and spices and add garlic powder, lemon zest, black pepper, dried bay leaf, etc.

How much salt should I use?

This recipe can be adapted to turkeys of all sizes. Use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 pounds. Diamond Crystal salt is best, Morton’s has more sodium and will be saltier. If using Morton’s, you will have to adjust and use less.

Kosher Salt

The only salt I cook with every day is Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Note that different brands and different types of salt vary not only in the amount of sodium per measured amount, but also for taste. When cooking the recipes from my website and cookbooks—both for flavor and for the sodium values listed—you should use Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If you use another type of salt or a different brand of kosher salt, just remember to taste as you go.

Storing

Leftovers should be put away when you’re done serving. Store leftover meat and the turkey carcass for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.How to dry brine a turkey

It feels like we’ve been remodeling our new home forever, but this week I finally got to cook in my new kitchen and put my new Wolf M series double oven to the test. Needless to say, I am IN LOVE!! I went big for the first time and cooked a whole 16-pound turkey as a test run for Thanksgiving along with a few side dishes. Using this oven was everything I imagined and more!

The oven has a variety of programmed cooking modes, but for this particular recipe, I tried the Convection Roast mode which cooked the turkey in a fraction of the time! (I tested this recipe both in my old oven on conventional roast and my new Wolf oven on convection roast to see how they compared). What’s more, it’s the most spacious oven I’ve ever had (it’s actually Wolf’s largest capacity oven), so between the two of them I’m able to fit more dishes at the same time than ever before.

But the feature I think I loved best for making a turkey was the temperature probe. It takes the guesswork out of knowing if the turkey is ready and you can even download an app on your phone to monitor the meat’s cooking progress without having to open the oven door! To use the probe, I simply inserted it into the turkey thigh right between the leg and the thigh away from the bone and set the temperature to 170F. Once the turkey hit the correct temperature, it notified me it was ready. No guessing! I let it rest 30 minutes which brought the temp up a little more. The turkey was so moist and juicy, the skin so crisp and flavorful, this is how I will be making my turkey for years to come!

This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.

Leftover Turkey Recipes

 

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Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brine Turkey

4.96 from 25 votes
0
Cals:225
Protein:45.5
Fat:3.5
This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
This Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brined Turkey comes out so moist and flavorful, with crispy golden skin and juicy tender meat.
Prep: 1 hr
Cook: 3 hrs
Brine Time: 4 d
Total: 4 d 4 hrs
Yield: 16 servings
Serving Size: 6 oz turkey breast no skin

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 thawed or fresh 16-lb turkey preferably fresh (not kosher or self-basting) if frozen, thaw before
  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt use less with Mortons

Instructions

4-Day Dry Brine:

  • (4) Four days before you plan to roast the turkey, mix the herbs and oil in a small bowl. Remove the neck and giblets and reserve for stock, if using. Loosen the skin around the shoulders of the bird and around the cavity. Carefully slide your hands underneath the skin to loosen it from the breast, thighs, and drumsticks.
  • Combine olive oil and herbs. Rub the herbs on the meat, under the skin. Pat the skin back into place.
  • Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey in a large food-safe plastic bag (such as a turkey-size roasting bag) and tie. Put the bag inside a second bag and tie.
  • Day 1 to 3: Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate the turkey, turning it over every day, for 3 days.
  • Day 4: Remove the turkey from the bags and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large roasting pan and refrigerate, unwrapped, to let the turkey air-dry overnight (for the fourth day).

Roast turkey (Day 5):

  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it temper on the counter for about 1 to 3 hours. Place turkey breast side up on a rack (sprayed with oil) in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.

Convection Roast Mode:

  • Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F in convection roast setting. If using a probe, insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh not touching the bone and set the temp to 170F. Roast until the temp registers 170°F in the thickest part of a thigh, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or longer depending on the size of the turkey. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.

Conventional Oven:

  • Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. Roast the turkey for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to 325°F.
  • Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F in the thickest part of a thigh, about 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.

Last Step:

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Video

Notes

Nutrition is based on turkey breast no skin.
If you don't have 4 days to brine your turkey, and choose to do it less time it will still taste fine!!

Nutrition

Serving: 6 oz turkey breast no skin, Calories: 225 kcal, Protein: 45.5 g, Fat: 3.5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 121 mg, Sodium: 896.5 mg

Categories:

Disclosure: This post is created in partnership with Sub-Zero Wolf. All thoughts are my own.

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100 comments on “Herb and Salt-Rubbed Dry Brine Turkey”

  1. So you start this process on Sunday and finish on Thursday…is it safe to have a turkey in refrigerator that long?

  2. My husband and I are stationed overseas and don’t have access to fresh herbs. What adjustments do you recommend using dry herbs instead of fresh herbs?

  3. fantastic! this was the BEST turkey we have ever made in 23 years! The dry brine made the turkey soft,  and tasty not hard and tasteless like the previous 23 years! love love it will always use this thank you!

  4. This was sooooo soooo good! Even my tough to please brother in law said it was one of the best turkeys he has had! It was so juicy and full of flavor!

  5. This recipe is a keeper! It was my first time making a turkey (normally my mom does but we were separated because of COVID). I was intimidated by the thought of making the turkey myself, but this turkey was very easy flavorful and juicy. A winner for sure! 

  6. I am going to go for it! I pick up my fresh turkey tomorrow, on Tuesday, before turkey day, so will do this dry brine, cover it up (probably with foil, I don’t have a bag) and let it sit covered in fridge the rest of tomorrow and overnight. Then uncover for Wednesday in fridge – and then Thursday morning I am READY! Can’t wait to try it!! Saying I am nervous is an understatement LOL

  7. Do you mix the salt with the herbs so that the salt goes under the skin? Or does the salt just go on the skin and in the cavity? Thanks! First time making a turkey. 

      1. I accidentally mixed the salt with the herbs…. Hope it still comes out ok. 😬😏

    1. I know this comes a year late, but just read your question and had to respond:
      NEVER put stuffing into a bird to then let it sit in a fridge.  HUGE risk of bacterial growth.  And if stuffed, the bird will take longer to fully cook.  
      I always bake the stuffing in a separate casserole.  Will need to add broth to keep from drying out, uncover last 20-25 mins to allow a bit of “crispiness” if you like (everyone here likes it that way).  
      I will rate this recipe after I make the two birds that we are preparing for 2021 Thanksgiving.  I love all the fresh and dried herbs.  Intrigued by addition of the oregano!  Will try Mexican oregano (available in small pouches at Whole Foods).  In the past, I’ve added dried nutmeg and it adds a great, subtle flavor dimension.
      Will post afterwards.
      Happy Holidays, Everyone!  And gracias, Gina, for this recipe.

  8. Great recipe. I just used this to make a test Turkey before Thanksgiving (it’s been a while since I’ve had to make the turkey and I have a new oven). I’ll be using this recipe for my actual Thanksgiving Turkey. Thank you

  9. I used this recipe with a 9 lb turkey for 2 nights in the fridge wrapped, then 1 night unwrapped since I didn’t have the full 4 days. It turned out flavourful & crispy! Thanks Gina!!

  10. Very nervous about having a thawed turkey for 4 days, resisting the urge to air dry tonight and roast 1 day early on Christmas eve. That said there isn’t a single comment saying that the turkey wen’t bad… fingers crossed!!

  11. Our turkey turned out absolutely 100% amazing!   Another winner recipe and we will keep this for next year.  We used the drippings for the gravy too!  Thank you as always!

  12. This recipe came right on time. My daughter brought home a 20 lb turkey from work. I’ve never made a full turkey in my adult life. I followed this recipe (minus the sage) and it came out PERFECT.  My youngest who said she wasn’t going to eat any had multiple helpings. Definitely found my go to recipe if I ever find myself with another bird. This was so helpful and had perfect tips for different ovens. 

  13. Fabulous recipe!  We used a 12 lb fresh, organic turkey and didn’t adjust the ingredients. Turned out juicy and flavorful. Everyone loved it!