Dry-Brined Turkey

18 Servings
Prep Time 2 days
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Rest 20 minutes
Total Time 2 days 2 hours 50 minutes

Dry-Brined Turkey is an easy, amazing turkey recipe for how to make the most flavorful, juicy turkey meat with buttery, crispy turkey skin. 

The star of any Thanksgiving Dinner is the holiday turkey and everybody wants a deliciously seasoned bird with tender, juicy meat and extra crispy skin. From slow basted Roast Turkey to this Dry Brined Turkey, we have a variety of cooking methods to make a perfect Turkey. We even have a cooking method to cook Frozen Turkey to juicy perfection in case you forgot to thaw your bird!

About Sabrina’s Dry-Brined Turkey

It takes a little extra prep work and some planning ahead, but Dry Brined Turkey is hands down one of the easiest ways to get amazing, perfectly cooked turkey! The dry brining process makes wonderfully juicy breast meat and thigh meat, with deep flavor and the crispiest skin. After the turkey is brined, it’s smothered in herbs and basted with its own delicious juices until it’s juicy, flavorful tender turkey perfection.

What is Dry Brined Turkey?

Dry brining is where the turkey is prepped with a dry salt rub and then chilled for a couple of days to tenderize the meat. While the turkey sits in the fridge, the salt pulls out turkey juices, acting as a natural brine for the meat. The dry brining allows the turkey to soak up the salted liquid and tenderize itself slowly. It plumps up the meat just like a wet brine, but it doesn’t add any extra liquid so you get a much deeper flavor!

Dry Brined Turkey Ingredients


  • Turkey: You’ll need to start with a fresh or thawed 12-14 pound whole turkey. Remove all the giblets and do any cleaning if it is a fresh bird. A 12-14 pound turkey will serve about 8-10 people with plenty of leftovers. That size of bird will also take 3-4 days to fully thaw in the fridge, but you can start brining it if it is partially thawed, after about 1-2 days of thawing.
  • Salt: The key ingredient you need for both wet and dry brine is salt. You’ll want to use kosher salt or sea salt, just don’t use fine table salt or it won’t brine properly. The larger crystals of kosher salt breaks down the meat and draws out the juices and flavor slowly without making it salty.
  • Aromatics: The yellow onion, carrots, and celery are roasted under the bird in the pan juices and broth to create a delicious aromatic steam that gets into the meat. It helps the meat become even more flavorful and extra juicy.
  • Broth: While you could use water, we just love the extra savory flavor from chicken broth especially in the gravy we make from the drippings.
  • Butter Herb Rub: The turkey gets an herb and butter coating to trap in all those delicious juices and it also gives the skin the most amazing flavor. Butter also helps it get beautifully golden brown.

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Brining Bag: A bag made for brining is great because it is less likely to leak and isn’t as bulky as a large container. But if you don’t have the special bag, just use a container that is big enough to hold the turkey and can be dealed.
  • Roasting Pan: You’ll need a large roasting pan big enough to hold the bird and 3 cups of broth without spilling and that has a roasting rack to elevate the turkey over the veggies.
  • Turkey Baster: If you don’t have a turkey baster, you can use a long-handled spoon or ladle, just watch your hands so you don’t burn yourself.

How to Make

Time needed: 2 days and 3 hours.

  1. Prep the Turkey

    Pull out any giblets from the turkey, then pat the bird dry on the inside and outside. Season the bird with salt. It’s also important to do the salt rub on the inside and the outside.Dry Brined Turkey patting turkey dry and rubbed with salt in pan

  2. Brine for 2 Days

    Put the salted turkey in a large brining bag and place on a baking tray in the fridge breast side down. Chill overnight then turn the turkey over and refrigerate it for another day.

  3. Prep for Cooking

    Preheat your oven to 450 degrees the day you want to roast. Use a roasting pan with a rack. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery to the pan’s bottom and pour the chicken broth over the top.

  4. Season the Turkey

    Mix together the butter, pepper, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Rub the herb blend over the turkey before roasting. It is important that you don’t rinse the turkey before seasoning.Dry Brine Turkey Collage of butter rub

  5. Roast the Turkey

    Cook for 30 minutes. Take the turkey from the oven and baste it with the cooking liquid beneath the bird. Put the roasting pan back in the oven at 350 degrees. Continue cooking for 2 more hours. Every 30 minutes of cooking time, take the turkey out and baste it again. Use an instant-read thermometer and make sure it reaches 160 degrees before ending the cooking time.

  6. Rest Time

    Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and tent it with foil. Leave the turkey to sit for 20 minutes before carving it.Dry Brined Turkey on serving dish

  7. Optional Gravy Recipe

    If you’d like to make gravy from the cooking liquid, combine 2 cups of it with 2 tablespoons flour in a pan on the stove. Mix in the flour with a wooden or silicone spoon. Remove the vegetables from the mixture as you go. Cook until the broth is thickened up, and add salt and pepper to taste.Dry Brined Turkey Collage of making gravy

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, in fact you will need at least 2 days to brine your turkey but you can brine a fully thawed for up to 4 days ahead.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Dry-Brined Turkey
Amount Per Serving
Calories 357 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 0.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 169mg56%
Sodium 1509mg66%
Potassium 537mg15%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 47g94%
Vitamin A 1454IU29%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Dry-Brined Turkey Tips & Tricks

Brine for At Least 2 Days

To properly make a dry-brined turkey, it needs to be prepped with a salt rub a few days in advance. The salt slowly draws out the juices so if you try to shorten the time, your bird will not be as plump, juicy or flavorful.

Rest the Turkey Before Carving

Let your freshly cooked turkey rest before carving it so it retains all the delectable juices it absorbed while roasting in the oven. It needs to rest for at least 20 minutes, while loosely tented with foil, as soon as it comes out of the oven. 

What to Pair With Dry-Brined Turkey

Drinks: You cannot go wrong in pairing your roasted turkey with a dry to medium bodied wine with crisp notes like Chardonnay. A nice Holiday Mulled Cider or blackberry and sage spritzer would be a delicious option too.

Sides: For a traditional holiday meal, up this perfectly cooked turkey with classic sides like Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, and Dinner Rolls. Don’t forget the Pumpkin Pie for dessert!

How to Store

Store: Once the turkey has cooled, you can cover it tightly in tin foil or plastic wrap or store it in another airtight container. It will stay good for about 3-4 days. 

Freeze: To keep the turkey longer, freeze it for 2-3 months. Make sure to let the roast turkey thaw in the fridge before you reheat it.

Ideas to Serve

Garnish: Dry-Brined Turkey can be beautifully garnished with fresh rosemary, pomegranate or sliced lemon or orange. Cranberries and blueberries are also colorful additives to the presentation platter.

Leftovers: Turn the turkey meat into a delicious sandwich or Leftover Turkey Casserole for an easy day-after Thanksgiving meal. You can also turn the carcass into a warm, hearty Turkey Carcass Soup!

Frequent Questions

How long should I dry brine a turkey? 

It’s best to dry brine your turkey for at least 2 days so that the salt has time to bring out the juices and then those juices get absorbed along with the flavor. Make sure to flip the turkey half way through so the meat is evenly tenderized.

Do I rinse the turkey after dry brine?

No, you don’t want to rinse the turkey after it has been dry-brined! The salt will absorb into the skin and it actually helps the skin get crispier while locking in the juices.

Recipe Card

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Dry-Brined Turkey

Dry-Brined Turkey makes a juicy bird with incredibly crispy, golden skin. It’s a less messy brining process and you don’t have to leave the turkey in water.
Yield 18 Servings
Prep Time 2 days
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 days 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 12-14 pound whole turkey
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion , cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 carrots , cut into 2" chunks
  • 2 stalks celery , cut into 2" chunks
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme , removed from stem
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary , removed from stem and minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage , minced


  • Remove giblets from turkey and pat dry inside and out.
  • Season turkey all over with kosher salt, inside and out.
  • Add to a large brining bag or covered container.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Turn turkey over, refrigerate one more day.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • To a large roasting pan with a rack, insert add the onions, carrots, and celery to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • Add in the chicken broth.
  • Add turkey (do not rinse turkey) to the roasting rack.
  • Mix butter, black pepper, sage, thyme, and rosemary and rub inside and outside of the turkey.
  • Roast for 30 minutes, then baste the turkey with liquid from roasting pan.
  • Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Cook turkey for 2 hours (or until it reaches 160 degrees), basting every 30 minutes.
  • Let rest 20 minutes tented loosely with foil before carving (temperature will rise to 165 during the resting time).

To make gravy (optional):

  • Add additional 2 cups of chicken broth mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour to the pan to deglaze on medium heat with a wooden or silicone spoon (to not damage pan).
  • Remove the vegetables and discard.
  • Cook until mixture thickens and season with salt and pepper as needed.


Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 1509mg | Potassium: 537mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1454IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Dry-Brined Turkey

Dry-Brined Turkey Variations

Dry rub: Try mixing in additional ingredients to the dry rub. You can add fresh herbs like parsley, basil, dill, or chives. For other interesting add-ins, try a tablespoon of pink peppercorns, a pinch of cinnamon, allspice, or cloves.

Garlic Butter: Another way to add taste to the herb mixture is with the butter mixture. Try using garlic butter instead of regular butter.

Sweet Dry-Brined Turkey: For an extra sweet take on your Thanksgiving dinner, whisk some brown sugar in with the dry rub. About ¼ cup brown sugar should be plenty.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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