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Fresh Herb and Salt-Rubbed Roasted Turkey

Scott Phillips

Servings: 8 to 10, with leftovers

A dry brine (an herb and salt rub applied directly to the turkey) creates satiny leg meat and juicy, perfectly seasoned breast meat. Air-drying the turkey on the last day of the 4-day process will make its skin super crisp when roasted. This recipe can be adapted to turkeys of all sizes—use 1/8 oz. of kosher salt per pound.

For more turkey recipes visit The Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner.


  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 16-lb. turkey, preferably fresh (not kosher or self-basting)
  • 2 oz. kosher salt (1/2 cup if using Diamond Crystal; 1/4 cup if using Morton)
  • Herb Gravy for a Brined Turkey (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 510
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 220
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 200
  • Sodium (mg): 1500
  • Carbohydrates (g): 0
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 68


Dry brine the turkey

  • Four days before you plan to roast the turkey, mix the herbs and oil in a small bowl. Loosen the skin around the shoulders of the bird and around the cavity. Carefully slide your hands underneath the skin to loosen it from the breast, thighs, and drumsticks.

    Rub the herb mixture on the meat, under the skin. Pat the skin back into place.

    Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Put the turkey in a large food-safe plastic bag (such as a turkey-size roasting bag) and tie. Put the bag inside a second bag and tie.

    Refrigerate the turkey, turning it over every day, for 3 days.

    Remove the turkey from the bags and pat dry. Put it in a flameproof roasting pan and refrigerate, unwrapped, to let the turkey air-dry overnight (for the fourth day).

Roast the turkey

  • Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F in the thickest part of a thigh, about 2 hours. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle. If making the gravy, do so while the turkey rests.

Store leftover meat and the turkey carcass in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.


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Reviews (23 reviews)

  • RainierWolfcastle | 11/24/2021

    Thanks so much, txcook13579. I'm going to take your advice and cook as the Dry Rubbed Turkey recipe specifies. I think I'll only roast it at 400F for about 40 minutes instead of an hour, though, as I have a small (9lb) lean heritage bird. I'm roasting it on Saturday; I'll write a real review then.

  • txcook13579 | 11/21/2021

    I’ve been roasting the Thanksgiving turkey every year since 1992. I have tried every trick in the book to get a moist, flavorful bird. I now use this recipe, combined with another FC recipe — Dry rubbed roast turkey— and it makes a perfect roasted turkey every time.
    I use this recipe for the rub. Start on the Sunday before thanksgiving. Prepare the rub and apply it to the turkey as in this recipe. I double wrap the turkey in oven roasting bags. Turn it once a day. Wednesday morning, dry it out in the refrigerator as the recipe instructs.
    I roast the turkey using the method in the dry-rubbed roast turkey recipe. With all the vegetables inside the cavity and in the bottom of the roasting pan. 1 hour at 400, reduce temp to 325, check every 20 minutes. If veggies dry out in bottom of pan, add 1/2 cup water. Pull turkey when it gets to 160. Not 170! I also make the gravy recipe from the Dry Rubbed Turkey recipe.
    I’ve been doing this method for around 5-7 years now, and get a lovely, moist flavorful bird every year.
    For RainerWolfcastle, just try this! No flipping, or upside down roasting. The herbs under the skin help to keep the breast meat moist. I do use a rack, but it’s very low. There is little to no space between the bird and the vegetables in the bottom of the pan.

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