Whole brined and cooked turkey with decorative garnish

Herby Dry-Brined Turkey

Dry brining with an herb and spice mixture gives your bird great flavor and locks in moisture, and many cooks find this technique more convenient than wet brining. We suggest leaving the turkey uncovered overnight in the refrigerator, a step that helps it crisp the skin when roasting, but you can also cover the turkey in a large plastic bag or in plastic wrap.

Serves 14 to 16

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14- to 16-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 apples, such as Braeburn or Golden Delicious, halved and cored
  • 2 - 3 bunches fresh mixed aromatic herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary, fresh bay leaves and oregano

Method:

Combine peppercorns, fennel and rosemary and then grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle until cracked. Transfer to a bowl and stir in marjoram, sage, 6 tablespoons of the salt, sugar and garlic.

Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub salt and spice mixture all over turkey and in the cavity. Place turkey on a rack set in a roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered for 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse spice mixture off turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Brush butter all over turkey, working a little underneath the skin of the breast. Sprinkle skin with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Tuck wing tips under turkey and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Return turkey, breast-side up, to the rack in the roasting pan. Roast for 1 1/2 hours.

Tent breast loosely with aluminum foil and add apples to the pan. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching bone, reads 165°F, or juices run clear when thigh is pierced, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. Start checking doneness about 1 hour before the total roasting time is reached. Let turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving. Slice apples and serve alongside turkey.

Explore more