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.
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
Vegetable cooking spray
How to Make It
Stir together first 6 ingredients.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Five Spice Brine Roasted Turkey: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting Chinese five spice for sage and ground ginger for thyme.
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