For Last-Minute Goodness: Dry-Brine Your Turkey for Moist Meat and Crispy Skin

Dry-Brined Turkey

Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us, and there’s a whiff of trepidation in the air. Is the bird thawed? (If it’s not, fill a cooler or kitchen sink with cold water and submerge the turkey. A sturdy bag of ice placed on top will keep it down.) Word on the street is that smaller turkeys—12 to 14 pounds—are difficult to find this year. But you can thaw a 16-pounder in 10 to 12 hours by following the instructions above.

If you have another 10 to 12 hours before it’s time to roast the bird, redeem yourself as a cook by dry-brining the turkey.

Dry-Brine Your Turkey

You’ve likely heard of wet-brining, a technique that has been popular with poultry aficionados for years. It salts the bird from the outside in, not only giving the meat a wonderful flavor, but relaxing the proteins and tenderizing the meat. I love this technique, but don’t always have time.

But I wasn’t willing to abandon brined turkey. It’s just too good.

Dry-Brined Turkey

Okay, so here’s what you need to do. It’s a simple process, and will take up much less room in your refrigerator than wet-brined turkey. (I was always afraid the glass shelves in my refrigerator would break under the weight of the turkey and the brine!)

  1. Place your thawed turkey on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Remove any giblets. (You can use all but the liver to make a basting broth.) Dry the turkey, inside and out, with paper towels.
  2. Rub about 1 tablespoon per pound of kosher salt (we use Morton’s) on the outside of the turkey. If desired, add a bit of sugar and some finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, etc.). Put some of the mixture into the main and neck cavities.
  3. Refrigerate the turkey, uncovered, for about 1 hour per pound. This will give you crisper skin.
  4. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and roast the turkey until the internal temperature of the thigh when read on an instant-read meat thermometer is 170 degrees.

Be sure to let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Turkey Recipes

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