Looking for a turkey dry brine that results in some really juicy and savory meat? Look no further than this awesome and easy dry brine turkey recipe.
If you’re looking to brine turkey, you have two basic options: dry turkey brine or wet turkey brine. Dry brining a turkey is a lot less of a mess and hassle compared to wet brining. Many cooking experts even prefer dry brining turkey, not just because it’s easier, but because it yields superior results to a wet brined turkey (the meat can actually taste watered down). (1)
The ingredients in a dry brine for turkey can vary. This dry brined turkey will come out extra tender and delicious thanks to the time it spends soaking in healthy and flavorful ingredients like fresh squeezed orange juice, coconut sugar and antioxidant-rich herbs and spices, including rosemary, thyme and cardamom.
Why Do You Brine Meat Before Cooking?
You’re probably wondering why it’s even worth bothering with a dry brine for turkey. Brining meat before you cook it is a way to avoid ending up with a dry, tasteless piece of protein in the end. The main goal of brining, whether wet or dry, is to increase the meat’s ability to retain moisture. Brining is also a way to season meat on a higher level. Plus, having meat sit with a salty brine on it helps to break down the proteins resulting in meat that is less chewy and more tender.
With a wet brine (the more traditional and tedious brining method), meat must be submerged in a brining liquid in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. This means you must have a vessel that fits your meat fully submerged. This also means you have to have room for that vessel in your fridge. With a large turkey, we’re talking about a lot space.
Dry brining still involves letting the turkey sit, but without all that liquid involved, the whole process feels a lot more straightforward and manageable. Plus, it often results in even tastier results than a wet brine!
You can use this turkey dry brine recipe for an entire turkey, or you can use it in a smaller amount for part of the turkey, such as a dry brine turkey breast. Whatever the size of the turkey, it is sure to be delicious and highly nutritious!
Dry Brine Turkey Nutrition Facts
- 296 calories
- 50 grams protein
- 9.3 grams fat
- 0 grams carbohydrates
- 0 grams fiber
- 0 grams sugars
- 7.5 milligrams cholesterol
- 197 milligrams sodium
- 16.2 milligrams niacin (81 percent DV)
- 1.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (55 percent DV)
- 377 milligrams phosphorus (38 percent DV)
- 4.3 milligrams zinc (29 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligrams riboflavin (29 percent DV)
- 1.6 micrograms vitamin B12 (27 percent DV)
- 50 milligrams magnesium (13 percent DV)
- 407 milligrams potassium (12 percent DV)
- 1.8 milligrams iron (10 percent DV)
- 453 IUs vitamin A (9 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams thiamin (6.7 percent DV)
- 17 IUs vitamin D (4.3 percent DV)
- 15.3 micrograms folate (3.8 percent DV)
- 23 milligrams calcium (2.3 percent DV)
Clearly the highlight of this recipe is the bird. Turkey is a truly impressive protein source, loaded with a wide array of crucial vitamins and minerals. It’s especially rich in two key B vitamins — niacin and vitamin B6. Studies have shown that niacin or vitamin B3 can be beneficial when it comes to a variety of major health concerns, including high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. (8)
What about vitamin B6? This B vitamin is absolutely essential for normal brain function. It aids the body in making the mood-altering hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, as well as melatonin, a hormone that governs wake and sleep cycles. (9)
Turkey is also high in something called tryptophan, an amino acid that also helps to regulate sleep. Tryptophan is actually a precursor to the hormone melatonin. A meta-analysis of 19 studies published in 2013 reveals that melatonin can increase total sleep duration, decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and boost sleep quality overall. (10) Looking to sleep better tonight? Bring on that turkey!
This dry brine turkey recipe also includes giving the turkey a flavor, nutrient and moisture boost with butter. I recommend using grass-fed butter, rich in vitamin A and butyric acid. What is butyric acid? This lesser known saturated short-chain fatty acid is actually highly impressive when it comes to health, and butter is a top source of it. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer demonstrates butyric acid’s anti-cancer abilities, specifically when it comes to colon cancer. (11)
Those are just some of the many health benefits of this recipe. Are you ready to actually make this dry brined turkey?!
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Dry brining a turkey isn’t hard even for the most novice of cooks. You basically combine the ingredients, rub them on the turkey, let the turkey sit for a while and then cook it. Hopefully, you’ll have some leftovers so you can make this delicious zesty turkey salad with beans and walnuts recipe.
To get started, place the thawed turkey in a roasting pan. Now, you can start making the brine.
In a bowl or mortar, combine rosemary, thyme, fennel and one tablespoon of salt.
Crush everything together to release the oils in the herbs. After about one minute of crushing, you’re ready to add the sugar, orange juice and remaining salt.
Mix until well-combined.
Pour the brine onto the turkey and massage it thoroughly into the turkey skin.
Cover the turkey and place it in the fridge for at least 24–48 hours to let all that goodness soak in. After the turkey is done brining, brush the brine mixture off the turkey and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a separate bowl, combine the butter, rosemary, thyme and sage. Mix until gently combined.
Now you have your herb-butter mixture you will use to moisten the entire turkey both inside and out.
Place half of the butter mixture under the skin of the turkey. As you put the butter underneath the skin, rub it into the meat. Spread the remaining butter on top of the skin until the whole turkey is covered.
Place the turkey in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the remaining veggies small enough to stuff the turkey.
Carefully pull the turkey out of the oven and stuff it with the vegetables.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 2–4 hours, or until the thigh is 180 degrees Fahrenheit and the breast is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your dry brine turkey is finished! Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or a simple family dinner, this main course is sure to impress.
It pairs well with gravy, but don’t worry, it won’t be even close dry without it. Enjoy!