Dry brined turkey with garlic sage butter is juicy and delicious! Using a dry brine is so much easier than a wet brine, and gives this turkey so much flavor.
After celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving last month, I started thinking that it was about time I share my favorite turkey recipe with you guys!
I LOVE experimenting with different turkey recipes, and once I discovered the amazingness of brining a turkey, I could not go back. But. Using a wet brine is labor intensive and kind of stressful (if you’ve ever tried to get a huge turkey into a brining bag you know what I mean).
Then I discovered dry brined turkey, which eliminates the need for a giant pot/brining bag/extra cooler. All you do is rub a salt mixture over your turkey! So much simpler, and to my surprise, just as flavorful, and the skin ends up much nicer.
Reasons to love this dry brined turkey
- it is so much easier than a wet brine!
- the turkey ends up so juicy and flavorful
- you can start dry brining before the turkey is 100% thawed
How to dry brine a turkey
Dry brined turkey helps lock in moisture by loosening up muscle fibres, helping them absorb more moisture. It also gives the turkey meat a delicious seasoned flavor.
Here’s how to dry brine a turkey:
- thaw turkey & pat dry
- the day before serving: prepare dry brine: kosher salt, pepper and brown sugar
- rub dry brine all over the turkey, let turkey sit uncovered overnight in the fridge
- the day you’re serving: rinse off the brine, pat turkey dry
- rub the turkey skin with butter or oil (I used a garlic sage butter). Avoid a salty rub as your turkey will already be plenty seasoned!
- bake it up!
Tips for this dry brine turkey recipe
- use kosher salt, not table salt
- don’t stuff your bird- brining can make your stuffing extra salty
- be careful with salt- if you are seasoning the skin of your turkey after rinsing off the brine, make sure you don’t use salt. If preparing gravy from the juices, taste before you add any salt.
- pick a turkey that has not been pre-seasoned or injected with anything. Kosher turkeys have already been brined so they are not suitable for this recipe.
How long to cook a turkey
A brined turkey cooks faster, so make sure to check your turkey’s temperature early!
- How long to cook a turkey entirely depends on the size and weight of your turkey, so make sure you take a photograph of the tag with the weight of the turkey before you discard the packaging!
- The general rule is to roast turkey for 10-15 minutes per lb HOWEVER since a dry brined turkey can cook quicker, I recommend checking your turkey’s temperature early, at around 2 hours.
- To tell if your turkey is done, take the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh. Once it reaches a temperature of 165°F, it’s ready to come out of the oven. I found this video helpful in finding the thickest part of the turkey thigh.
For the record, my 17 lb and my 14 lb roast turkeys were both done between 2 1/2 -3 hours, hence my recommendation to check your bird’s temperature early.
If your turkey is done early, tent it in foil to keep it moist. It will hold the heat for several hours!
Tips & equipment for this roast turkey recipe
- My roasting pan & rack are from Paderno and I couldn’t find the exact one; however this one has amazing reviews on Amazon (and is reasonably priced) if you’re in the market!
- I highly recommend this Digital Instant Read Thermometer to take the temperature of your turkey, and an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is holding the right temperature
- looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Check out this Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce, these Herb & Garlic Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes and this Make Ahead Sage Apple Stuffing! Or try this Crock Pot Ham recipe!
Dry Brined Turkey with Garlic Sage Butter
- 1 whole turkey (12-20 lbs; thawed)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt (do not use table salt!)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pepper
Garlic Sage Butter
- 1/2 cup butter (softened; salted or unsalted are fine)
- 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 onion (quartered)
- 1 apple (quartered)
- 1 stalk celery (quartered)
- 5 sprigs fresh tyme
- 1 stem fresh rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs fresh sage leaves
3-4 days before serving
- Thaw the turkey according to package directions.
The day before serving
- Pat the turkey dry. Remove the giblet and neck, and set aside for making gravy or stock (if desired).
- Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Mix together the dry brine, and rub all over the turkey skin (breast & back) and inside the cavity.
- Let the turkey sit uncovered overnight in the fridge.
The day you're serving
- Heat oven to 450°F.
- Remove turkey from the fridge and rinse off the brine (don't forget to rinse the cavity, too).
- Pat turkey and roasting pan dry. Make sure none of the salty dry brine is in the roasting pan as this can make your pan juices too salty for gravy.
- Bend the turkey wings backwards and tuck under the bird.
- Stir together the garlic sage butter ingredients and rub all over the turkey breast, wings & back (see *note)
- Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the 'cavity' ingredients
- Place turkey in the pre-heated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325°F.
- Roast turkey for 2 hours, basting with pan juices every 45 minutes, before taking the temperature. For a 14-17 lb turkey, 2 1/2-3 hours were perfect (see note **). Check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and the breast, turkey is cooked through when it measures 165°F.
- When turkey is cooked through, remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes. If your turkey is done early, tent with foil to keep it warm. If you're just waiting 30 minutes before serving, no need for foil.