Dry-Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Brining is used to make a super-moist Thanksgiving turkey, but wet brining is very messy, and can even make the meat a little spongy. I’ve begun dry brining my turkey, and it works wonderfully….it’s easy to do and keeps the meat moist and flavorful!


  12-16 pound turkey, preferably a heritage or pastured bird
1⁄2 kosher salt, more if needed
black pepper
10  sprigs fresh thyme
1⁄2 bn flat leaf parsley
 small onions, halved
 small apples, cored and halved
1⁄2 butter or coconut oil
1⁄2 white wine, optional
 sprigs fresh rosemary
3  fresh bay leaves
Source: Adapted from the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/dining/111trex.html?pagewanted=print)
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 hours Total time: 3 1⁄4 hours


Definitely choose a heritage or pastured turkey, as you will get far better flavor, texture, and fatty acid profile (remember, too much fo the wrong kind of fatty acids is pro-inflammatory). Two days before Thanksgiving, rinse the turkey and pat dry. Rub the turkey all over with kosher salt. Slip some salt under the skin and rub some into the inner cavity. Use about 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of turkey. Place turkey in a large bag (an oven roasting bag works well) and put in refrigerator. On the night before Thanksgiving, turn the bird over in the fridge. A couple of hours before cooking, remove turkey from bag and pat dry. Plce in roasting pan and allow to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter or coconut oil. Finely chop half the fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and parsley and combine with butter. Add salt and pepper to taste to butter/herb mixutre. Rub inside cavity and all over outside of bird, rubbing it into and under the skin. Slide remaining fresh herbs under the turkey’s skin. Put the onions and apples in the bird’s cavity. Truss the legs with kitchen twine Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cover breast and wing tips with foil to prevent burning. Add a cup and a half of water or white wine to bottom of roasting pan and roast bird for 2 more hours, depending on size of turkey. Allow 12 minutes per pound. Remove foil for last 30 minutes to allow turkey to brown nicely. You can test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into two places in the thigh, making sure not to touch bone. Turkey is done when it reads 160 degrees. Pop-up thermometers work really well too. When the turkey reaches 160 degrees, tip it to allow juices from inside turkey to run into pan. Remove turkey to a platter or other baking dish, cover with foil, and then wrap in a large towel. Allow bird to rest like this for 30 minutes. Pour fat and drippings from pan into a measuring cup. Deglaze pan with white wine or broth and pour that into the same measuring cup. This can be used for gravy. Two gravy options: 1. Run drippings through a blender and then bring to a boil in a saucepan. Boil gently for 5 mintues and then serve. OR… 2. Combine drippings with chicken broth to make a total of 2 cups of liquid. Add 2 tablespoons oat or rice flour plus 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened.

Print Friendly


  1. [...] Dry-Brined Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy [...]