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Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey

Scott Phillips

Servings: ten.

Dry-brining the turkey—that is, sprinkling it with salt and refrigerating it uncovered overnight—gives all the flavor of wet-brining, minus the big, awkward bucket of salt water.

Visit the Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner for hundreds more recipes for turkeysides, and pies.


  • One 10- to 12-lb. turkey
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 medium to large yellow onions, unpeeled and cut into eighths  
  • 2 medium carrots, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium ribs celery, cut into 1-inch chunks

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on ten servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 540
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 230
  • Fat (g): 25
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 210
  • Sodium (mg): 850
  • Carbohydrates (g): 0
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 72


  • The night before: Remove the giblets from the turkey, cut off the tail, if attached, and reserve them for making the rich turkey broth. Rinse the turkey thoroughly. Sprinkle the salt all over it, starting on the back side, then the cavity, and finally the breast. Put the turkey on a wire rack set over a rimmed pan or platter and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  • One hour before roasting: Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Fifteen to 20 minutes before roasting, position a rack in the lowest part of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Put half of the onions, carrots, and celery in the turkey cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings behind the neck and under the turkey. Scatter the remaining onions, carrots, and celery in a large flameproof heavy-duty roasting pan fitted with a large V rack. Set the turkey, breast side down, on the V rack.
  • Roast for 30 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and close the oven door. With two wads of paper towels, carefully turn the turkey over so that it’s breast side up. Add another 1/2 cup water to the roasting pan. Return the turkey to the oven and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170°F, about another 45 minutes for a turkey in the 10-lb. range, or about another 1 hour for a 12-lb. turkey. (Keep a close eye on the vegetables and pan drippings throughout the cooking process. They should be kept dry enough to brown and produce the rich brown drippings to make gravy, but moist enough to keep from burning, so add water as needed throughout.) Transfer the turkey to a carving board or platter, tent with foil, and let rest for at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving and serving. Meanwhile, make the silky pan gravy from the drippings.


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Reviews (14 reviews)

  • siriius | 11/25/2016

    Perfection. I followed the directions exactly. We did stuff it. Not salty at all.Moist with crispy skin. I will never wet brine again!!

  • cammilla62 | 11/28/2013

    This method is amazing! I spent some extra bucks on a free range fresh turkey (12 lbs) and followed directions exactly. Other than the color of the turkey being almost purple looking, it felt a little like rawhide. It actually worried me some, as I didn't want to ruin the whole meal. I should not have worried. Except for the surprise when I inserted the thermometer in the thigh to check the temp (juice spurted out like I'd punctured an artery) the turkey was just beautiful. But the taste was still unknown. When the bird was carved, with the juice again going everywhere, we all decided that that meant it was a juicy bird. The taste was just incredible...and very, very juicy. The skin was outstanding and crispy. I am a complete convert. It was the easiest turkey I've ever made. This method will be used from now on. Thanks, Fine Cooking for a keeper recipe and method.

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