What You Need
Ingredients – 14 to 16 lbs bird
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients – 18 to 24 lbs bird
4 ½ tablespoons Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt
2 ¼ teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend
1 ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· Small bowl
· Measuring spoons
· Cutting board
· Large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan
· Mix the salt, pepper, and herbs together in a small bowl.
· Remove the fresh or thawed turkey from the packaging; set the giblets and neck aside. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
· Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels.
· Tuck the wings back: Bend the wings back and tuck under the breast.
· Loosen the skin of the turkey.
o Using your hands, separate the skin over the breast from the meat; make sure to break through the thin membrane between the skin and breast while leaving the skin itself intact.
o Similarly, loosen the skin over the meaty part of the legs.
· Season the cavity: Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey.
· Season the meat: Rub 2-3 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the legs (under the skin). Rub 4-5 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the breasts (under the skin).
· Season the skin: Sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over all the skin of both the breasts and legs and rub around to distribute it evenly and help it adhere to the outside of the bird.
· Refrigerate: Place the turkey breast-side up in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan lined with paper towels and refrigerate uncovered for at least 12 hours, but ideally 3 days.
· When ready to cook, you do not need to pat the bird dry before cooking — it should appear dry and ready to be roasted, grilled, or deep-fried!
· You can dry-brine a partially frozen turkey; while I prefer starting with a thawed turkey because you can separate the skin from the meat for more even seasoning, you can dry-brine a frozen turkey.
· Type of salt; the brand of salt is very important. I ALWAYS use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is flakier and larger than regular table salt. If you only have a fine salt, use half the amount called for.
· Brine proportions for a smaller turkey: Turkey sizes vary, so if you have a larger or smaller bird, go by these proportions instead: For every 5 pounds of turkey, you will need 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
· Fresh herbs substitution: instead of dried herbs, you can substitute 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (or 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of turkey).
· Other flavoring ideas; you can substitute any herbs you like…and can also add in a little brown sugar to the dry brine for a touch of sweetness.