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Anyone Dry-Brine their turkey?

I saw this article from the LA Times and I'm thinking of trying it. I've ordered my organic turkey from a local farm and I don't want to screw it up, so ... what do you think about dry-brining?


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  1. Yes. Did it this year. Works great. You can do it just a day in advance. This technique also works for whole chickens, pork roasts, beef roasts, etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Shazam

      I won't have the turkey or know exactly how much it weighs until Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Will that give me enough time to dry brine a 16-18lb turkey?

      1. re: anniam

        Here's the Russ Parsons' article that convinced me to try it: http://articles.latimes.com/2006/nov/...

        He recommends 3 days brined in the fridge. I've done less but 3 is better.

    2. I used to wet brine. I've been using a dry brine for the last 3 years and will again this year.

      It definitely takes longer but the flavor is great and there isn't the concern about keeping a big turkey in an even more enormous container of brine refrigerated.

      1. I made Ina Garten's Accidental Turkey last year and it has a dry brine including salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. It was outstanding.

        1. I do it every year. Works wonderfully.

          1. Yes. Dry brining is SO much easier than wet, I'll never do it any other way. I let it go two or three days in the brine, and then a day uncovered in the fridge to dry out the skin. The Tuesday before T-day is probably not enough time for optimal results, but I'd probably do it anyway and hope for the best.

            1. Ah, I see why they want such a long brining time. They instruct you to brine the skin. How silly. Instead, apply the salt between the meat and the skin. You will get much faster brining.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Shazam

                I think CI described that. I thought someone wrote about trying it that way, but the salt in the folds didn't melt, and it was too salty in places. Anyway, good to know you have good results.

                I think three days prior works perfectly if you get your bird over the weekend.

              2. I've dry brined twice and will do so this year.

                1. Been doing it for several years now and wouldn't make my turkey any other way.

                  1. Absolutely, it's been our turkey prep method for many years.

                    I've done a two day dry birine, with success. As mentioned above, it's way easier and produces a terrific result.

                    1. For the last four or five years, the last few using minced herbs and citrus rind with the salt.

                      One of Russ Parsons updates


                      You can do it from frozen, but you need about two, maybe three days plus one to air dry the skin. And it's supposed to be a natural, not injected bird. And not Kosher, because I think Koshering already does this.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        the koshering process is different - i dry brined a kosher bird last year and it came out great - not overly salty (despite rampant rumors on the internet)

                        1. re: ahuva

                          Good to know! Maybe I remembered wrong. I seem to remember Kosher birds are good quality. Is that generally true?

                      2. I just saw a recipe for a dry brined turkey, with the salt brine on the skin, but a rub of fresh herbs mixed with olive oil for under the skin. Wouldn't the oil under the skin prevent the brine from working well? it sounds delish, but don't want to mess up my 1st attempt at dry brining

                        1. I dry brined last year, with a mixture of salt, sage, rosemary and black pepper. came out great.

                          1. After years when I didn't roast a turkey, I'm returning to turkey land next week. Can any of you point me to a good step by step recipe for dry brining?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sueatmo

                              Not really a recipe, but a technique. Here are the instructions...


                              If the link doesn't work Google judy turkey instructions. The LA Times publishes the technique almost every year.

                              1. re: Springhaze2

                                Yes! This is what I was looking for. Thanks!

                            2. By far, the best method I've tried to get a perfectly moist turkey is from Joanne Weir. It's a 3 day process and uses a traditional wet brine, followed by an air dry for 24 hours and then a draping of butter and cheese cloth.

                              1. Yes! It's great, and everybody I've told about it has tried it and continued to do it.

                                I wet brined one year and managed to spill the bring EVERYWHERE! Ugh!!!!!

                                The only difficulty is planning enough ahead of time.

                                1. I dry-brined our Thanksgiving turkey last year for the first time using Russ Parsons' directions in the LA Times. (I did a trial run on a chicken a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.) Much easier and much better than wet brining! Last year I stuck to the basic method, just salt. This year, I'll try adding rosemary and lemon zest. I think it would be difficult to screw it up if you follow the proportions: 1 tbsp of kosher salt for every 5 lbs of turkey.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Skamper

                                    That's exactly what I mixed into my salt today! It smelled great, and the turkey is happily [we hope] dry-brining in the fridge.

                                    1. re: Skamper

                                      I've been doing his upgrades each year. This year, am I going rogue if trying the "Smoky spiced salt with orange" ?


                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                        I was thinking of doing the same although I'm a wee bit nervous about the orange. Might just go with lemon instead. Have you seen any comments/feedback on the "smokey" one?

                                        1. re: ChervilGeorge

                                          I used the smokey dry brine last year and loved it. I'm doing it again this year. I really like the smoked paprika, cumin, orange combination though. I use it on pork throughout the year.

                                          1. re: ChervilGeorge

                                            As it happens, I had no orange (although several neighbors trees are loaded...hmmmm), so I used Meyer lemon peel. Was planning to put some orange peel in today. He was pretty specific about the orange adding something it needed.

                                      2. That's my preferred turkey method. The great thing about it is that it ends up tasting like turkey, not like ham, which is my beef with wet brining.

                                        1. i tried this a few years back and it is outstanding. don't feel a slave to the herbs and spices. use what you like and what will best complememnt your other dishes.

                                          1000 times less hassle than wet-brining and a far superior flavor and texture.

                                          1. Just prepped my turkey for dry brine. I made a mixture of fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme) and olive oil and rubbed under skin and cavity. Then I rubbed salt over the skin and also in the cavity and wrapped it in a large plastic bag. According to the recipe I am using, the turkey will stay wrapped until about 8 hours before cooking, then unwrapped to dry out the skin. The question I have, is do you wash off the brine or just wipe it out with a dry cloth. If you wash it out, do you do that when you uncover the bird 8 hrs before roasting or wait until just before cooking and then dry the bird. Also, do you add anymore seasoning on the skin, or is the seasoning under the skin and the salt brine enough. I really appreciate any recommendations

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jackieh1

                                              You want the salt *between* the skin and the flesh so that the flesh can absorb it. And that's what it will do so there won't be any left to wash or wipe away.

                                            2. If I plan to dry brine, can I just leave it uncovered for 36 hours or should it be covered until at least 8 to 12 hours before?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                I would cover so that the moisture that is drawn out can be reabsorbed and not just evaporate into the fridge.

                                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                                  Yes - just because it's a dry brine, doesn't mean it won't get wet. You want to wrap it up - a large zip lock or roasting bag works well - until 12 hours or so before cooking. Some recipes recommend turning the bird on its breast for the last 12 hours before removing from bag to air dry.

                                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  Leave it uncovered for a crispier skin.

                                                3. My turkey has been dry brining since Sunday morning. At some point tomorrow, it comes out of the bag to air dry in the fridge. I tried this method before and had a most succulent bird. Not changing much this year, except that the bird is bigger (as in 23 lbs).

                                                  On Thursday, it's time to butter under the skin and all over, before going into the oven breast side down for the first 45 min at 425. Then it's 325 breast side up until done.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: mazwe

                                                    That's the way I do it too (tho I couldn't pick up my bird and get it brined until Mon AM).

                                                    For years we had hysteria and hyperventilation about turning a hot, heavy, greasy, stuffed bird upside down. Then I bought a second V-rack so we could do it cake pan/wire rack method. MUCH happier T-day mornings since. ;>

                                                    How do you flip your bird? ;>

                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                      To be honest I have been hyperventilating for days, ever since it dawned on me that this will be the heaviest bird to flip.

                                                      In the past, they were smaller and unstuffed. And I used oven mitts. The stuffing will sit in cheesecloth inside the bird, and I briefly considered not stuffing until the point where I flip (not a fan of stuffing it, but I received threats, haha). I am a little concerned because this bird, from Jaindl farms, has an enormous breast, and the legs look like they are barely hanging on, so I am wondering how it will handle the acrobatics.

                                                      Does the pan/wire rack method work with big birds?

                                                      1. re: mazwe

                                                        I put on my rubber dishwashing gloves and grab wads of paper towels in each hand. The paper towels provide a good grip against the slipperiness of the bird, and the rubber gloves protect against the heat. In the past, I tried oven mitts (cotton or silicone), but those were too bulky.

                                                        Our bird will be really big, too, so I will ask my husband to do it but I will probably assist with placing the bird "just right" on the rack. With my rubber gloves on, of course. :-)

                                                        1. re: mazwe

                                                          It works better than anything we've tried previously. …which pretty much is what you and goodeatsgal are describing. Still, it takes both me and my husband coordinating the bird/racks and the pan.

                                                          These are what I've found kind of lean and mean to get the job done. They're silicone so there's less negotiating sticking skin.
                                                          And there aren't bulky handles to fight with one another. We can get both of them securely around the bird. Then it's just a matter of a deep breath, closed eyes and a banzai bravado. ;>


                                                    2. Hmm, I just salted my bird and while I do Zuni chicken all the time which I think has a higher salt ratio I'm a little worried as that seemed like a ton of salt.