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How to Dry Brine and Roast a Turkey

A foolproof method in achieving the juiciest bird this holiday season.
Begin 12 hours ahead.
Course dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine North American
Keyword dry brine, turkey
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 40 minutes
brining time 12 hours
Total Time 16 hours 45 minutes
Servings 14
Calories 664kcal


  • 14 pound (6 1/4 kilograms) fresh turkey thawed completely
  • 1 cup (200 grams) Citrus-Herb Dry Brine
  • 6 sprigs fresh sage
  • 4 stems fresh rosemary
  • 3 stems fresh thyme
  • 3 stems fresh oregano
  • 1 medium orange cut in eighths
  • 2 medium lemons cut in quarters
  • 1 small onion peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 head garlic rinsed and cut across its width
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vegetable oil


Dry Brine the Turkey, then Marinate it

  • Use your index (pointer) finger to begin separating the membrane right where the turkey breast comes to a point (where the cavity is).
    Continue using your finger to tear between the skin and the meat to separate the two. Take care to avoid tearing the skin.
  • Once the skin is separated, spoon a 1/2-cup of the citrus-herb brine under the skin. Use your hands to spread the brine under the skin.
    Rub the remaining citrus-herb dry brine all over the outside of the turkey, making sure to season the inside of the cavity, too. 
  • Wash your hands and lay out two pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. On top of that, lay out 3 or 4 pieces of plastic film, overlapping them to create a sheet large enough to wrap the turkey in.
    Wrap the bird tightly in the plastic film. Then wrap the bird once again in the foil and place it onto a sheetpan.
    Marinate the turkey anywhere from 12-24 hours. 

Prep, then Roast the Turkey

  • Lower the middle rack to the lower half of your oven.
    Next, preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
    Stack the sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano on top of one another and wrap the bundle tightly in butcher's twine. Tie a knot in the string and set aside.
  • Unwrap the bird completely.
    Pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel.
    Leave the plastic binding on the drumsticks to keep the legs close to the body. The allows the bird to cook evenly. 
  • Stuff half of the orange and lemon wedges into the cavity of the bird. 
    Follow the citrus fruits with the bundle of fresh herbs placing it into the center of the cavity. 
    Follow the spice bundle with the onion wedges and the garlic halves. Finish stuffing the cavity with the remaining citrus wedges. 
  • Brush the turkey breast and the wingtips with the cooking oil.
    Form a piece of heavy-duty foil around the breast down to the cavity. Cut small pieces of foil to cover the tips of the wings. Leave the turkey legs exposed.
    Place the pan into the preheated oven and roast the turkey for 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Uncover the Turkey to Finish Roasting

  • After the 3 hour 40 minute roasting time is up, carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil that's covering the turkey breast.
    Return the pan to the oven and roast the turkey for an additional hour, or until a meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F (74°C).
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest under a foil tent for 15 minutes before carving.
    Because you want to preserve this turkey for the next day's leftovers, be sure not to leave it sitting out at room temperature for too long. 


Turkey Thawing Times (Refrigerator Method) *24 hours per 5 pounds of meat*:

  • 8-12 pound turkeys: 2-3 days
  • 12-16 pound turkeys: 3-4 days
  • 16-20 pound turkeys: 4-5 days
  • 20-24 pound turkeys: 5-6 day

Quick-Defrosting Method *30 minutes per pound*:

Set the turkey in a sink or tub of cold water. Allow the turkey to soak for 30 minutes per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • 8-12 pound turkeys: 4-6 hours
  • 12-16 pound turkeys: 6-8 hours
  • 16-20 pound turkeys: 8-10 hours
  • 20-24 pound turkeys: 10-12 hours

Turkey Roasting Time *20 minutes per pound of turkey* at  325°F (163°C):

For example:
14-pound turkey x 20 minutes per pound= 280 minutes
280 minutes divided by 60= 4 hours 40 minutes
If you don't stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics, reduce the roasting time to 15 minutes per pound. 
A fully cooked turkey is 165°F (74°C). 
Always rely on the internal temperature of the turkey for the most accurate test of doneness. Insert an internal probe into the thickest part of the thigh- making sure the probe isn't touching the bone. 

Turkey serving chart:

*Plan to serve 1 1/4 pounds of turkey per person if you want leftovers. If not 1 pound of turkey per person is fine.*
  • 8 guests: 8-10 pound turkey
  • 10 guests: 10-12 1/2-pound turkey
  • 12 guests: 12-15 pound turkey
  • 14 guests: 14-18 pound turkey

Storage Instructions:

  • Pack the remaining meat into food storage containers. Store the leftovers in the fridge for 3 days, reheating only what you plan to eat in one sitting.
  • If you can't go through the leftovers in 3 days, freeze them:
    1. Pack leftovers into food storage bags and freeze them.
    2. Turkey meat can be frozen for 2 months.
    3. When you're ready to eat, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge.

Reheating Instructions:

  • Reheat cold turkey in the microwave by adding a small amount of water to its container and heating on high, while covered, until steaming hot.
  • You can also reheat leftover turkey on the stove. Add sliced turkey to a skillet with a small amount of water and heat over medium heat until warmed through. 
  • Turkey can also be served cold.
Dry Brine can also be used on other meat. Using the same measurement of 1 tablespoon to 1 pound, you can use this dry brining technique for pork, beef, chicken, or seafood.


Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 99g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 327mg | Sodium: 1000mg | Potassium: 1076mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 301IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 4mg