Brining a Turkey – How to Dry Brine a Turkey

It has become quite popular to brine a turkey before you cook it. You can do this by inserting your turkey into a liquid solution or by rubbing it with a dry brine composed of salt and whatever addition you would like.

I have discussed the pros and cons of this method vs a wet brine in a separate post. You can see that here.

A dry brine will render you a very moist and tasty bird. You will have flavor all the way to the bone. The salt on the surface will relax the protein in the muscle and allow the flavors to go all the way through the meat. It is a process that will take 3 days but absolutely worth the time.

In reality you only need salt to dry brine a turkey. Any other additions to the salt are absolutely optional. The general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of table salt or 1.5 teaspoons of coarse salt per every 2 pounds of turkey. Here are a couple of combinations that I have used. They are both very good.

Here is what you need for brining a turkey:

Brine for a 14 pound thawed turkey

7 teaspoons of table salt or 10.5 teaspoons of coarse salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
7 teaspoons of table salt or 10.5 teaspoons of coarse salt
1 TBS garlic powder
4 sprigs Rosemary – leaves removed
4 long strips orange peels without the white part

For the first brine simply mix all of the ingredients together. If you are using coarse salt you will need to place all the ingredients in a coffee grinder and pulverize them.

For the second brine, place all the ingredients in a coffee grinder and pulverize them.

Remove the giblets and neck from your turkey. Reserve them for making gravy.

Rinse and pat dry a turkey really well. Place it in a roasting pan and start rubbing it with your brine. Make sure you are especially generous on the breast, under the sings and between the thighs. It is important that the turkey be as dry as you can get it.

Flip the turkey over, pat dry and rub the back. Place some of the salt mixture into the cavity and rub that as well. Place the turkey into a large bag and seal it well – try and remove as much of the air as you can. Place the bagged turkey into a rimmed baking pan and refrigerate it.

On the second day, remove the turkey from the refrigerator. Leave it in the bag and rub the skin in the front and back – give it a massage if you will. Return it to the refrigerator.

On the third day, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and repeat the same process (massage the bird) but leave the bird breast side down. Return to the fridge.

The night of the third day, remove the turkey from the bag (discard the bag as it will be full of liquid and blood) and pat dry the turkey as well as you can. You should not have any visible salt on the turkey at this time. Place it in the rimmed pan without covering it and return it to the refrigerator. You want the fans in the fridge to dry the turkey’s skin as much as possible before cooking it.

On the fourth day, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and pat dry again. Place it in a roasting pan and allow it to come to room temperature for about one hour. It is now ready to be roasted, deep fried, smoked or grilled. Make sure you do not add any more salt to the turkey before cooking it.

Print the Dry Brine for Turkey Recipe Here


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My name is Mary Ann Allen and I am here to help you get organized so you can save money on groceries and feed your family healthy, nutritious food. My multi-cultural cooking background comes from being born in the US and raised in Bolivia. I have 5 kids and own around 400 cook books. I absolutely love to cook!

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