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Dry Brined-Herb Roasted Turkey

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

 

Hands-on time 25 mins
Total time 13 hrs, 25 mins
Yield Makes 8 to 10 servings
Skip the cumbersome wet brines that call for soaking turkey and making the skin flabby. This classic overnight dry brine--a simple herb, salt, and sugar mixture--gives the turkey deep flavor and a crackly crust. Be adventurous and create your own signature dry brine using our sugar and salt ratios as a guide, or try one of our three variations below.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (12- to 14-lb.) whole fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • Wooden picks
  • Kitchen string
  • Vegetable cooking spray

How to Make It

  1. Stir together first 6 ingredients.

  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey; pat turkey dry. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. brine into cavity; rub into cavity. Reserve 1 Tbsp. brine, and sprinkle outside of turkey with remaining brine; rub into skin. Chill turkey 10 to 24 hours.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together butter and reserved 1 Tbsp. brine. Loosen skin from turkey breast without totally detaching skin; spread butter mixture under skin. Replace skin, securing with wooden picks.

  4. Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck wing tips under. Place turkey, breast side up, on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in a large roasting pan.

  5. Bake at 350° for 2 hours and 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of turkey thigh registers 165°. Remove from oven; let stand 30 minutes before carving.

  6. Cajun Brine Roasted Turkey: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting paprika for sage, dried oregano for dried thyme, and 2 tsp. ground red pepper for black pepper.

  7. Jerk Brine Roasted Turkey: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting allspice for sage and onion powder for garlic powder and adding 2 tsp. ground cumin to brine mixture.

  8. Five Spice Brine Roasted Turkey: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting Chinese five spice for sage and ground ginger for thyme.