Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
This dry-brined roasted turkey is the only turkey recipe you’ll ever need! It’s full of incredible flavor, it’s super juicy, and it has the most beautiful crispy skin. It’s the perfect centerpiece for your next holiday meal!
I’ve had the honor of roasting the turkey for Thanksgiving a few times now. And while the turkey has always been delicious, it’s never been a perfect, showstopping centerpiece. That is, until I tried this dry-rubbed turkey recipe from Bon Appetit. I put my own little spin on it, and it was such a hit that it’s my new go-to. And it’s just so incredible I have to share it!
This roasted turkey recipe is really the best. It’s got loads of flavor thanks to the “dry brine” rub, a long rest in the fridge uncovered produces the crispiest skin, and a simple glaze brushed on during baking adds even more flavor and color to the turkey.
Maybe my favorite thing about this method is it is so much easier than a traditional wet brine and it produces a more beautiful and delicious roasted turkey! One taste will surely have you convinced. This is the only roasted turkey recipe you’ll ever need!
The Best Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey
What is a dry brine?
A dry brine is exactly how it sounds. Instead of soaking the turkey in a wet brine infused with salt, sugar and other aromatics, a dry brine is a simple rub that’s applied to the turkey and left on for a day or two. There’s no need to worry about finding a pot big enough for a wet brine, and you can skip the mess of dumping it all out in your kitchen sink. A dry brine is so much simpler, it really is the better way!
My dry brine rub is a combination of coarse salt, brown sugar, ground mustard, and fresh lemon start. It’s a flavor kick-starter with big impact.
Do I have to rinse off the dry brine? Nope! Part of the magic of the dry brine is it gives the turkey skin time to dry out so it browns evenly in the oven. Rinsing the bird before baking would undo that, and don’t worry, it won’t be too salty!
The Best Way to Roast a Turkey
- If your turkey is frozen, thaw it in the fridge. A frozen turkey will take 24 hours per 4-5 lbs to defrost in the fridge, which is about 2-3 days for this recipe. Plan ahead!
- Place turkey on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and rub it all over with the dry brine mixture. Place it uncovered in the fridge for about 24 hours. During this time the turkey is soaking up the flavor from the rub and the skin is drying out, which will help it crisp in the oven.
- When you’re ready to bake, rub it all over with butter and stuff the cavity with onion, lemon and fresh herbs.
- Keep it on the lined sheet pan to let the entire turkey brown evenly (a roasting pan with high sides prevents the bottom third of the turkey from browning).
- Roast it at a higher temperature for 30 minutes so the skin starts to brown, then reduce the temperature and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF (it will rise to the appropriate temp of 165º while it rests). Use a digital thermometer for accuracy.
- While the turkey is roasting, brush it with a simple glaze made with butter, honey, red wine vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs for even more flavor and color.
- Let it rest 30 minutes before carving so the juices have time to settle comfortably within the meat. Cut it too soon and all the juices will leak out, leaving dry turkey slices behind.
- While the turkey is resting, make this easy homemade turkey gravy from the drippings.
And finally, enjoy! See below for some delicious side dish suggestions to make your meal complete.
Side Dishes to Complete Your Special Meal
- The Best Mashed Potatoes
- Buttery Garlic Green Beans
- Mushroom Brussels Sprouts Casserole
- Easy Classic Stuffing
- No-Knead Crescent Dinner Rolls
Shop Tools for this Recipe
Dry-Brine Roasted Turkey
- 6 tablespoons coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
For the Turkey
- 12-15 lb turkey , neck and giblets removed
- 1 onion , peeled and quartered
- 1 lemon , halved
- 1 small bunch fresh herbs , such as rosemary, thyme and sage
- 1/4 cup butter , softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- A few herb stems , such as rosemary, thyme and sage
To apply dry rub
- Place turkey on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and pat dry.
- Combine salt, brown sugar, lemon zest and ground mustard in a small bowl. Use your hands to apply rub all over the bird. There should be plenty, and it's okay if some of it falls off onto the pan.
- Place in the fridge, uncovered, for about 24 hours.
To roast the turkey
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Lower the center rack so that the turkey will fit and rest in the middle of the oven.
- Leave the turkey on the wire rack and sheet pan. Rub the butter all over the turkey and stuff the cavity with the onion, lemon, and herbs. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.
- Transfer the turkey to the oven and pour 1 cup of water into the pan to prevent the drippings from burning.
- Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Add butter, honey, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and herbs to a saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until bubbling and thickened. Keep warm.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake until a thermometer inserted into both the thickest part of the thigh and breast registers 160°F. (The temperature will continue to rise as the bird rests.) This will take about 35-85 minutes. Skin should be golden brown, crisp, and shiny.
- While turkey is roasting, brush every 30 minutes with the glaze. Add more water to pan as needed to maintain an even level of water.
- When turkey has reached 160°F carefully remove it from the oven, making sure not to let the juices spill from the pan.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board or serving platter and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- Make homemade turkey gravy from the drippings and serve!
- To thaw turkey, place in fridge for 24 hours per 4-5lbs of turkey. Depending on the size of turkey you use, this could take 2-3 days. It's okay if turkey is not completely thawed when you start the dry brine, but it should be mostly defrosted.
- Nutrition information is an estimation.