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Dry Brine Turkey for the Best Thanksgiving Turkey

Dry Brine Turkey Recipe. Learn how to dry brine your turkey or chicken using an easy dry brining recipe containing a touch of orange and maple with all the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.  I always get asked for this recipe because it makes the most flavorful and crispiest skin turkey and chicken! Perfection!

You've got to try this dry brine recipe - it makes the most flavorful and crispy skin turkey and chicken!!! 

Dry Brine Turkey

A few years ago I was introduced to dry brining a Thanksgiving turkey and now I won’t make a turkey any other way! It’s a total game changer on Thanksgiving! Dry brining a turkey produces amazing flavor, super moist meat and that skin…oh that skin…irresistible crispy and golden brown to perfection. I’m drooling just thinking about it 🙂 

 

I’ve experimented with a bunch of different dry brine mixes and today I’m sharing our all time favorite dry brine recipe for a turkey or chicken. It’s a huge winner, not just to us, but with all our friends and family, too. I always get asked for this recipe!

 

You've got to try this dry brine recipe - it makes the most flavorful and crispy skin turkey and chicken!

 

This turkey dry brine recipe has just a touch of orange and maple mixed with the traditional Thanksgiving flavors. Ohmigosh, I love it so much! My friends and family can’t get enough of it so I always make extra batches of this recipe and give them out as little gifts. A small jar of dry brine makes such a cute and practical gift or party favor! You can tell your guests that it’s absolutely fantastic on chicken, too.

 

You've got to try this dry brine recipe - it makes the most flavorful and crispy skin turkey and chicken!

 

What is a dry brine?

Dry brining simply means pre-salting with salt and/or other herbs and seasonings. There’s no water or liquid involved and no mess.

 

The salt helps draw out the moisture. Then that moisture dissolves the salt crystals. And this is where the magic happens: the now dissolved salt, moisture and seasonings get reabsorbed back into the meat all the way down to the bone. The salt helps break down the tightly woven proteins resulting in the most tender, moist meat. And the seasonings get infused throughout the whole bird. You won’t want to make a turkey (or chicken) any other way once you try it!

 

Dry Brining benefits include:

  • far more flavorful than any other method
  • crispy golden brown skin and moist, tender meat
  • less mess compared to a wet brine
  • no fancy equipment
  • super easy
  • turkey is prepped and ready to go for the big day

 

You've got to try this dry brine recipe - it makes the most flavorful and crispy skin turkey and chicken!

 

Dry Brine Turkey Tips (please read!)

  • Please, please do NOT use table salt or fine salt – it will make it too salty. Using coarse salt or kosher salt is the key to flavorful perfection.
  • Only use this dry brine on a fresh (or frozen and thawed) turkey that has not been pre seasoned, marked kosher (because they already salt it) or injected with flavorings. Double check the label and make sure that turkey is the only ingredient. This is important!
  • For the best (seriously, the absolute best!), crispiest skin ever, leave your turkey uncovered in the fridge during the final 12 hours. I know…I know…that grosses some people out, but I promise you, that golden brown skin will make you swoon. 
  • Make sure to pat your turkey completely dry before cooking it. 

 

How to Dry Brine Turkey Recipe:

Dry Brine Turkey
 
Author:
Serves: about ½ cup of dry brine
 
Recipe: Dry Brine Turkey Mix. A touch of orange and maple added to the traditional Thanksgiving flavors is a delight to the tastebuds!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt (I use THIS)
  • 1 tablespoon maple sugar (my fav because it adds a touch of wonderful maple flavor, but if you can’t find it, you can use brown sugar or coconut sugar. I get my maple sugar HERE)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
How to Use Dry Brine:
  1. *Use 1 tablespoon of dry brine for every 5 pounds of meat* Pat dry the outside and inside of the turkey. Then season the entire outside and inside cavity using the dry brine. Don't forget to loosen some of the skin and season directly on the meat, too, especially on the breasts.
  2. Refrigerate, loosely covered, for at least 12 hours up to 72 hours (the more time it sits in the fridge, the more flavorful it will be, but you'll still get a really great tasting bird even if you do the minimum time). *Important step for the best, crispy skin: Take OFF the covering during the final 12 hours in the refrigerator and refrigerate UNCOVERED for 12 hours*
  3. When you're ready to cook the turkey, pat the outside dry (no need to rinse or wipe anything off) and cook using any method you prefer. I like the long and slow oven roasting method: 325 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes per pound.
Notes
If you are not stuffing your turkey, add the orange you used for your orange zest to the cavity! I also like to add in an onion, a few cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. SO YUM!


Please read my turkey dry brining tips above in the blog post for the best possible results!
 

If you have any questions, just let me know! I hope you’ll get a chance to try this dry brine method for your turkey or chicken – it’s a game changer!

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You've got to try this dry brine recipe - it makes the most flavorful and crispy skin turkey and chicken!!!

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51 comments

  1. I have done a wet brine with chicken where I soaked in brine for several hours, then drained, patted dry and cooked. This sounds so much easier and less messy. Can’t wait to try it.. thanks Kelly!

  2. I LOOOOOOOVE THIS RECIPE!!! I use this all the time on my whole chickens ever since you introduced it to me. Seriously people you have to make it, it’s so good! What jar do you use? I really like the idea of making this for giftsfor the holidays.

  3. For it make the drippings too salty to use for gravy? I would love to try it….. this is my husband’s question .
    Thanks

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      No, not at all as long as you stick with using 1 tablespoon per 5 pound of meat – it makes some awesome gravy! Although, I should mention that it seems that the dry brine method doesn’t produce quite as much drippings because most of that moisture is infused in the turkey. Sometimes I’ll add a cup or two of broth in my roasting pan before I put the turkey in the oven just to be sure I have enough drippings because I love extra gravy! I am one of those people who pours an obscene amount of gravy over my entire plate of food 🙂

  4. Hi, do you think this method would work the same on a Turkey cooked overnight. I always put my Turkey in on Christmas Eve and wake up to the most delicious smell on Christmas morning, but your seasonings sounds fabulous, so I’d like to give it a try. What do you think.

  5. Hello!
    Is the orange zest fresh or bottled?
    Don’t want to ruin the turkey brine ising the wrong one.

  6. I stuff my turkey. Is it ok to do this or will the dry brine change the taste of the stuffing?
    Thanks again
    Lisa

  7. Do I dry rub a spatchcock turkey?

  8. Hi! Do you rinse the bribe off prior to roasting? Just afraid it would be too salty

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Aundrea! No, don’t rinse prior to roasting! Rinsing defeats the purpose of air drying the turkey, which is the secret to super crispy skin perfection 🙂

      I know it seems like a lot of salt, but it’s really not, I promise! If you or anyone else still has any hesitations on dry brining and thinking there will be too much salt, let me send some comfort to you with this article I just found…they did a test kitchen experiment and tried a few different proven winning turkey methods and dry brining was hands down the winner! And they got over 200 emails from readers saying it was the best turkey they ever cooked…woo! http://www.latimes.com/la-fo-turkey19-2008nov19-story.html (also there’s some good tips in that article!) Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  9. * Oops brine that is lol…

  10. Hi Lisa,

    I’m excited to try your recipe tomorrow; it looks great!

    I do have a question: during the “When you’re ready to cook, pat dry the outside of the turkey” stage of the process, do I leave the dry rub on the turkey or should I scrape it off? In other words, should there still be a good amount of rub on the turkey when it goes in the oven?

    Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Jim! I alway leave the seasonings on. If you let your turkey sit uncovered in the fridge for more than a day, you most likely shouldn’t even have to pat dry because the skin will already by very dry (the secret to crispy skin!) so you can just pop it in the oven – or whatever method you choose to cook your turkey 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!!

  11. Hi Kelly I meant!

  12. Direct from fridge to preheated oven or do you let the turkey stand for an hour or so at room temperature before putting in the oven. Did you use convection or just bake setting on oven?
    Thank you!!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Cindy, I do like to let it sit for 45 mins to an hour. But I have done it both ways and to be honest, I haven’t noticed a difference!

      I don’t have a convection oven, so it’s just bake setting for me. But my mom does and she likes to cook it in the convection setting. If I had the convection option, I would cook it in the convection setting.

  13. Hi Kelly,
    I knew the minute I read your blog that I had to try “dry rub.” My turkey has been brined & in the fridge since Tuesday morning. I can’t wait to prepare it tomorrow for my family. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
    Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃
    Robin

  14. Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Followed your tips and had a turkey uncoverd in the fridge overnight. It turned out very good. We had a great meal today. Hopefully you too. 🙂 Diana.

  15. I’d like to share how my turkey turned out. Kelly’s recipe sounded perfect.
    My turkey was very moist!
    So thankful for that since it was the first time I did a turkey dry rub and left it sit uncovered in the refrigerator over 48 hrs.
    I basted the turkey once since I didn’t check back in time to see the answer on to baste or not to baste. I don’t know if the basting had anything to do with it, but the skin was crisp as promised, however in a tough kind of turkey jerky way.
    My husband couldn’t cut it with a knife, he had to punctue it!
    Also, in the instructions to pat dry, it took off a lot of the brine seasoning.

    I didn’t have a lot of juice in the bottom of the pan for gravy, so I was glad I made stock to mix with what little I did have
    Kelly said there wouldn’t be.

    Now that I know the finer details to the recipe, I won’t hesitate to try it again next year.
    I used an organic turkey on bake setting. I have convection, but chose the standard bake setting.

    Thank you, Kelly!

  16. What an excellent recipe. Our Turkey turned out to be flavorful and moist. Thanks for sharing.

  17. How long can you store this dry brine rub for, and should it be kept in the fridge if you use fresh oranges?

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Nathan, The dry rub will keep for 1-2+ years in the cupboard if your orange zest was dried out. If you haven’t made it yet, just zest your orange and leave the zest on the counter for an hour (or until it’s dried out) before you add it to the salt. Even if you already made it, though, I personally would still feel comfortable keeping it for 6+ months in the fridge since salt is one of the best inhibitors of bacteria. Most bacteria or other pathogens cannot survive in a highly salty environment. Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. Hi,

    I’m on the hunt for a turkey to try this dry brine recipe! I’m having a hard time finding a frozen or fresh turkey that doesn’t have any spices, salt etc. it says it’s contains less than 8% of but i don’t know if that would make a difference?? It’s a butterball and says all natural. Help please!!!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Emily, your turkey won’t work for this recipe….bummer 🙁 Even though it’s only 8% seasonings, it has already been brined or at least has salt in it. This recipe will be way too salty for any turkey that isn’t 100% fresh!

      • Okay, well good news is I didn’t get it! Still turkeyless, haha. Any brand recommendations or stores you’d recommend?? I really love the sounds of the recipe and would love to try it!

  19. Can anyone tell me what turkey brands they used that were successful for this recipe??

  20. So here’s the lowdown..I got an open nature organic turkey. It’s not injected with anything nor any added salt. Although it does say 75mg of sodium on the nutrition label, however only says turkey under the ingredients list. Would this work???🤞

  21. Hi Kelly,
    This recipe sounds great. I just made some and plan to use it this Thanksgiving, we have an oilers infrared turkey fryer.
    Questions:
    I made a lot of the dry rub. How long will it keep? I made it with fresh orange zest.
    I am getting a 15lb fresh turkey from our
    Local turkey farm, so I only need 3TBSP of the run? Will it cover all the surfaces?
    Can this be used in a typical turkey fryer using Louanna Oil?

    By the way, the rub smells delicious

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Paula!

      The dry rub will keep for 1-2+ years in the cupboard if your orange zest was dry. Even if it wasn’t dry, I still would feel comfortable keeping it for a few months since salt is one of the best inhibitors of bacteria. Most bacteria or other pathogens cannot survive in a highly salty environment.

      Your 15 lb turkey sounds great! I would start with the 3 tablespoons of dry brine and if it doesn’t cover your entire turkey, don’t hesitate to add a bit more. Although 3 tablespoons is a lot more than it sounds…I have a feeling the 3 tablespoons will be able to cover it 🙂

      I’m not sure about the turkey fryer since I’m not familiar with them, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

  22. How many days ahead of time can you make the brine? Should it sit in the fridge until you put it on the turkey?

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Kelsey, if you let your orange zest dry out for an hour (or until it’s dry) on the counter before you add it into the salt mixture, this dry brine will keep in the cupboard for 1-2+ years!

      I’m using my big batch of dry brine that I made last year for this years turkey 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. Hi Kelsey. I was wondering if I use Kosher Diamond Crystal Salt, which isn’t course. Do I still use a 1/4 cup salt?

  24. Thanks Kelly! Looking forward to trying it out! Happy thanksgiving!

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