How to Dry Brine a Turkey

In preparation for this Thanksgiving, we decided to take a tip from California cooking legend Judy Rogers (the late chef and owner of Zuni Cafe), and created a flavorful dry brine for our turkey. Judy, who’s best known for her perfect roast chicken, uses a simple salt brine technique to produce the juiciest, well-seasoned and most succulent bird

Why brine?
It’s well known that brining improves a a turkey’s ability to retain moisture, since the salt helps break down the muscle fibers and season the bird throughout. But while wet brining is the conventional way to prepare a turkey — (and there a zillion resources on the web to show you how to do that) — dry brining is arguably the best way. Our top reasons:

1) Dry brining is faster.
2) It produces less mess and less cleanup.
3) It’s way more delicious than wet brining (and way WAY more delicious than not brining at all).

How to do it

To make a dry brine, combine ¼ cup kosher salt with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of baking powder (this helps produce a crispier skin) and a combination of your favorite spices. We like a blend of crushed coriander, mixed peppercorns, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. We also toss in a little citrus zest for good measure.

Start by toasting and grinding your spices together. Mix those all up with the salt, sugar, baking powder and citrus zest. Then pat the bird dry and sprinkle on your salt and spice mixture. Rub it in to coat it well, stick the bird in a brining bag and place everything in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 3 days — the longer, the better.

When you’re ready for the big day, heat your oven to 425°F. Remove the bird from the bag and either rinse the mixture off or wipe it clean with a wet paper towel. If you do rinse, make sure to pat dry again. Then, you can stick it right in the oven and turn the heat down to 350°F. Cook until the temperature on a cooking thermometer reads 160°F. Let rest and eat!

For a more thorough (and fun) explanation, check out our video below: