If you’re not dry brining your turkey, you’re missing out on both efficiency and flavor.
You get the texture of a wet-brined turkey and the seasoning of a dry rub, no mess required. Ratio is key here. For a 12 lb turkey, use ¼ cup each of salt & brown sugar and 2 tbsp each of pepper & herbs. For a 16 lb turkey, increase those respective ratios to ⅓ cup and 2 & a ½ tbsp.
How to Make It
- 12 lb (5.5 kg) to 16 lb (7.3 kg) turkey, neck and giblets reserved for broth
- 1 tsp kosher salt per lb
- 1 tsp brown sugar per lb
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper per lb
- ½ tsp fresh thyme or chopped rosemary leaves per lb
- 4 celery stalks
- 2 onions, quartered
- 2 garlic bulbs, top ½” trimmed away
- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Make space in your fridge for a large, rimmed dish.
- Measure and combine salt, sugar, pepper, and herbs to match the weight of your turkey. This is your dry brine.
- Pat turkey dry, paying close attention to any creases or cavities. Bend and tuck wings behind body, then rub dry brine generously all over turkey and inside cavity. Place on a large, rimmed dish, then wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours.
- Before roasting turkey, let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Meanwhile, arrange rack in lower third, then preheat oven to 325 °F.
- Arrange celery and onions in center of a rimmed baking sheet or a large roasting pan. Place garlic bulbs alongside. Drizzle ¼ cup of oil over the tops of the garlic and veggies. Season with 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste.
- Discard any juices from the brining process. Pat turkey dry with paper towel, then place breast-side up over celery and onions. Drizzle remaining oil over turkey, gently rub onto skin to coat.
- Roast for 2 hours, rotating pan and basting skin occasionally, until skin is golden and garlic is tender. Carefully transfer roasted garlic to a plate to cool slightly for the gravy.
- Rotate pan and baste skin, then continue to roast the turkey until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast reads 160°F and the thickest part of the thigh reads 175°F, approximately 45 minutes to 1½ hours more, depending on size.
- Carefully tilt turkey to let roasting juices drip back onto sheet. Reserve drippings for gravy. Transfer turkey to a cutting board with grooves (to collect any resting juices) or a large serving platter if carving at the table. Cover with foil, then clean tea towels. Rest for 1 hour before carving.
- Serve whole, on a platter to be carved at the table or carve the turkey beforehand then arrange, in pieces, on a larger platter. Garnish with edible herbs and fruit, if desired.
Begin to check the internal temperature of the breast and thighs at the 2 ½ hour mark.
Depending on the size of your crowd, you may want to cook a smaller or larger turkey than the recipe above. The rule of thumb for roasting turkey at 325 °F is approximately 15 minutes per pound unstuffed and 20 minutes per pound stuffed. Be sure to check the temperature ahead of the final timer to prevent overcooking.
How to enjoy it
If you want to stuff the turkey, be sure to fully cool stuffing-mixture. Lightly pack about a quarter of the stuffing mixture into turkey cavities by legs and under neck skin. Add an extra 30 minutes to turkey’s roast time and/or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of stuffing reads 160°F.