Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

poultry essentials: dry brine recipe

Recipe by
Andy Anderson !
Wichita, KS

I just dry-brined 15 turkeys, and you think I might have a few photos to share; but alas, no. Anyway, it is just a brine recipe; how you cook your turkey is totally up to you. This recipe works good after 12 hours; however, if you can go 2 days, you will not regret it. Just remember that a brined turkey will cook faster than a regular bird. So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.

yield serving(s)
prep time 10 Min
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For poultry essentials: dry brine recipe

  • 3 Tbsp
    kosher salt, coarse variety
  • 1/2 tsp
    dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp
    dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp
    dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp
    white pepper, freshly ground

How To Make poultry essentials: dry brine recipe

  • 1
  • 2
    Why Dry Brine? Well, I can think of a bunch of reasons • The turkey is prepped ahead of time: Since a whole turkey needs one to three days of brining time, the dry-brining can be done in the quiet days before Thanksgiving Day madness sets in. • No messy water: With a dry brine, you just mix the salt and spices, rub it on the meat, throw it in the fridge, and you are finished. • No special equipment required: Dry-brining can be done on anything big enough to hold the turkey, such as a roasting pan or sheet pan. 
  • 3
    Do not get a seasoned, pre-basted or “kosher” turkey. They have either been injected with a salt solution, or they have been pre-brined. Just a plain, run-of-the-mill gobbler will do nicely. And this recipe was designed for a bird of about 14 pounds (6.3kg).
  • 4
    Gather your Ingredients (mise en place).
  • 5
    Add all the ingredients for the dry brine into a bowl, and combine.
  • 6
    Rinse off the turkey, and pat dry.
  • 7
    Chef’s Note: I know, I know… according to current thinking, when you wash off the turkey, the water bounces off the skin, and contaminates your entire kitchen. Later in the day; instead of relaxing by the fire, everyone is in the emergency room getting their stomachs pumped, and giving you evil looks. Oops, no leftover turkey sandwiches tomorrow for you, Sparky. Let me give you a tip, when you are rinsing off the bird, do not use the sprayer, just use a very gentle stream of water, and rub the bird, inside and out, using your hands.
  • 8
    Place the turkey on a clean surface, and remove all the bits-and-bobs you do not wish to brine. Like the neck, gizzard, liver (you can use these to create a great make-ahead gravy). Some turkeys have a plastic cage inside the cavity, if yours has one, remove and toss.
  • 9
    Use your hand, or the handle of a long wooden spoon, to loosen, and separate the skin on the breasts, and the thicker parts of the legs from the meat.
  • 10
    Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture in the cavity, 2 teaspoons under the skin of the legs, and 2 teaspoons under the skin of the breast. Then, sprinkle the remainder of the salt mixture evenly over the top.
  • 11
    I usually place the bird on a baking tray with sides, cover with a piece of parchment paper, drape a tea towel over that, and then stick it in the fridge, and forget about it.
  • 12
    Two days later pull it out (no need to rinse), and begin cooking that bad boy.
  • 13
    How does it work? In the case of dry brining, which involves the use of dry ingredients there is no risk of watering down its flavor. As a result, the internal moisture of the food remains intact, as well as its flavor, not to mention the fact that any skin - such as chicken skin or pork rind - will be crisper and perfectly delicious. Dry brining is based on the principle that when an external crust of salt and spices is created, this penetrates the muscle fibres of the meat. This magic happens because, when the meat starts to cook it tends to expel its moisture towards the outer surface and accumulate on the crust. As the cooking process continues, the latter returns some of the moisture to the fiber. This reaction, known as “pull-push”, enhances the meat with the flavor of salt and spices, but without diluting its natural juices. And that's not all: the dry brining technique enables any damage to be limited in the case of over-cooking. What actually happens is that a moisture reserve is created which comes in useful if we forget to remove the food from the heat when done.
  • Stud Muffin
    Keep the faith, and keep cooking