How to Dry Brine a Turkey

November 11, 2013

The turkey is the star of a classic Thanksgiving table. And, like a real-life celebrity, turkey can be fussy, difficult, and a general drama queen. But when it's good, it's really good. From the fight for the drumsticks to the final snap of the wishbone, Turkey Day just isn't complete without...well...its namesake. 

More: Still in search of the perfect bird? We've got your back.

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So the pressure is on. How to be the hero of your Thankgiving? It's called The Dry Brine, and while it may sound like a 50's-era dance move, it's actually the secret to a juicy, crisp-skinned turkey, every time. And, unlike it's wetter cousin, The Dry Brine involves minimal mess, stress, and fridge space, which is the ultimate premium around the holidays.

So what are you waiting for? Get your dry brine on.  

Video by Kyle Orosz

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  • Donna
  • Robert C. Hiller
    Robert C. Hiller
  • Lydia
  • Chef charlie
    Chef charlie
  • gersonfer
A kitchen scientist and dog-lover. Someday I want to have you over for dinner.


Donna July 16, 2015
thank you I will try his method was able to find the article and looks very doable and easy!
Robert C. July 16, 2015
Russ Parsons wrote an article in the LA Times a few years back re the 1 tbl/5 Lb dry brining method. The video accurately follows his method, particularly, no rinsing and allow one day in the fridge to dry the bird. I have been using this method for about 6 years and the birds turn out perfectly. Admittedly, it requires a lot of space in your fridge.
Lydia February 8, 2015
What seasonings did you combine for the dry brine? Thanks, Lydia
Chef C. November 27, 2014
Please, please, please stop this nonsense at once! A "dry brine" is a made up entity in modern fashionable food writing- there is no such thing in the culinary world because a dry brine is simply called a cure. I first came across this term in a book by an author I love and when I first got into the culinary industry I used the term. Several discussions with seasoned mentors later I have to say there simply is no dry brine.

-Chef Charlie ;)
gersonfer November 17, 2014
What about rinse after dry brine ?
Donna November 9, 2014
can you stuff a dry brined turkey ?

Pam A. November 14, 2014
i am also interested in whether you can stuff a dry brined turkey. Does anyonw know the answer?
Alice H. November 8, 2014
I never have enough room in my fridge for a whole turkey especially during this time of year. But I live in New England and have a covered porch area that is not insulated. In the winter, I use it as extra food storage and to thaw my turkey (I have to be careful because it can get too cold. I've frozen a large bag of pears before). In the summer, it makes a great place to incubate yogurt.
Wendy K. November 7, 2014
My limited experience with brines has left the turkey tasting like cold cuts - i.e. salty and sort of processed. How does this brining process affect the flavor of the turkey, aside from the juiciness?
AntoniaJames November 7, 2014
Dry brining does not produce the texture you describe (which is the reason I have never cared for wet brines). Once you try this, you're likely never to do it any other way. ;o)
AntoniaJames November 11, 2013
I have less horizontal than vertical real estate in my fridge during Thanksgiving Week, so I put my dry brined turkey in a bag in a narrow stock pot until the night before. I put the lid on as there is usually room on top for something else. On Wednesday night, I put the turkey in a bowl to dry, but pour off any liquid that accumulates several times, patting the bird dry. (I always roast a small hen, so this might not work for those who are roasting much larger birds.) ;o)
iwilk November 11, 2013
I've seen a lot of instructions for dry brine that tell you to rinse off the salt with water before cooking. Is this true? If so seems like you would need another day of drying to get the crisp skin.
AntoniaJames November 11, 2013
Would you ever put sugar in your dry brine? I'm really curious about the photo that accompanies the provisions brining mix: One would think that putting sugar (or, eventually, a sugar-salt syrup, because the moisture will dissolve the sugar) all over the outside of the bird would wreak havoc on the roasting process. I.e., the skin would be affected, especially if roasting at very high heat. Thanks! ;o)
hardlikearmour November 7, 2014
AJ, I've used a salt and honey paste to dry brine my turkey the last couple of years. I put it under the skin and inside what would've been the cavity of a butterflied bird. The skin becomes a gorgeous mahogany color. The texture seems good as well, though I will admit I'm not one for eating the skin so I'm not a great judge.