Is the salt level high for a reason?

This looks amazing! Quick question: 1/2 tablespoon of Diamond salt per pound seems high in comparison to other dry brining recipes -- Russ Parson's Judy bird only uses 3/5 of a teaspoon per pound, Kenji Lopez-Alt's oven fried chicken wings use 3/4 teaspoon per pound, and Samin Nosrat's original buttermilk chicken recipe used 1/2 teaspoon per pound. Is there a reason you need so much more salt here?

  • Posted by: Stewart
  • November 10, 2021
Dry-Buttermilk-Brined Turkey
Recipe question for: Dry-Buttermilk-Brined Turkey


AntoniaJames November 11, 2021
Such helpful information, 702551! I totally agree that mass metric ratios are far superior.

I have cut and pasted this to my knowledge base for future reference. Much appreciated! ;o)
702551 November 11, 2021
Note that it's easier to compare salinity levels using metric measurements and percentages and make notes. If you do a roast chicken with 0.04% salt by weight and it feels undersalted to you, you can write this down and bump this in the future to 0.05% salt by weight regardless of the weight of the next chicken.

Often I salt poultry then vacuum pack pieces to freeze for future use. I write the salinity percentage on the vacuum bag with a permanent marker ("0.05 KOS" = 0.05% kosher salt by weight).

This also avoids the inherent saltiness variance between different types of salt based on density (fine sel gris de Guerande is different than Italian sea salt which is different than Diamond kosher salt).

Using volumetric Imperial measurements for salting meats is asinine.
702551 November 11, 2021
This is a classic example of how much Imperial measurements utterly suck for this sort of thing.

For a roast chicken/turkey, my preference would be for 0.03-0.05% salt by weight (3-5 g salt per 1 kg of meat). For duck confit, I would do 0.07-0.08% salt by weight (7-8 g salt per 1 kg of meat).

With Imperial measurements, it's awkward to calculate salt for 5 lbs. 5.6 oz. of meat. With metric measurements, it's easy to scale; this is 2.43 kg of meat, you just multiply 3-5 g by 2.43.

I tend to stay between 0.03% and 0.05% for most meats although I usually salt 2-3 days in advance so the salt is fully penetrated. I'll stay on the low end for beef and higher for chicken and pork.

You will not get full salt penetration from an 8-hour dry brine. Externally applied salt penetrates the flesh about 1-1.5 cm per 24 hours. For a thicker roast, you'll need about 48-72 hours.

Anyhow best of luck.
AntoniaJames November 11, 2021
Following up on that . . . if I were to use this recipe for my Thanksgiving turkey, I would most certainly buy some extra wings to roast separately to create pan drippings and brown bits for my gravy. (The recipe says that the bird doesn't need gravy, which I don't doubt, but many will want it for their mashed potatoes or rice, if you're serving those, and for making gravy-smothered open-faced turkey sandwiches, or "gravy bread" (the same thing, minus the turkey) the day after Thanksgiving. ;o)
AntoniaJames November 11, 2021
I've found that the more salt you use in your dry brine, the saltier your pan drippings - sometimes to the point of being unusable, except as a seasoning agent unto themselves. That can be a real problem where, on occasions such as Thanksgiving, having a great gravy made from pan drippings is so important.

I'd be interested in hearing others' experience with making gravy from turkeys roasted using this recipe. ;o)
Rebecca F. November 11, 2021
hi! We tested this a number of times and found that this was the salt level preferred to season such a large turkey (and just FYI—Samin Nosrat's buttermilk chicken does actually call for 2 tablespoons per 3.5-4# chicken, which also shakes out to about 1/2 tablespoon per pound!) That said, it's your bird! If you make it, use however much salt you like :)
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