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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.


Rate or Review

Reviews (20 reviews)

  • courtingthetable | 12/21/2018

    Best turkey recipe ever! Purchased a fresh Bell and Evans turkey, and followed this recipe for perfect results. (Adjusting cooking time for convection oven.) So moist, you could see the juices as you sliced the breast meat. And the real work is done days before cooking and entertaining, freeing up time and space in the kitchen. I've used this recipe a few times now, definitely my go to!

  • AngloCastillo | 12/27/2016

    Remember to adjust the salt to the size of your bird and the cooking temperature for fan assisted ovens and this will do well. I would really recommend a temperature probe that stays in the bird as the cooking time is WAY less than you would expect. Our Bronze free range 12.5 lb turkey plus stuffing at neck end took just 1hr 40 mins. It did sit then for over an hour (as it was done so quickly) and that made it slightly overdone. I know this sounds crazy but it is true. 15/$20 on a probe is worth it as otherwise you will waste your effort.Herbs only really came through with cold leftovers

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