When searching for easy turkey recipes with the best turkey seasoning or best turkey brine, don't skip over dry brine turkey! If you've never tried it then now is the time. This delicious, moist Thanksgiving turkey recipe will teach you the best seasonings, what temperature to cook a turkey and how long to cook a turkey.
Plus, get tips on how to refrigerate, freeze and how to defrost a turkey.
Enjoy dry brine turkey as a full Thanksgiving turkey meal:
- Side Dish: – This classic side dish is colorful and full of flavor!
- Side Dish: – Get your greens with this delicious Brussels sprouts recipe with pecans and cranberries.
- Bread: – These make a delicious dinner roll!
- Drink: – This is a must have adult drink for the holidays.
- Dessert: – This needs no introduction! This easy apple pie is just what your Thanksgiving turkey needs as a chaser.
- Dessert: – Every Thanksgiving meal needs pumpkin pie. These little individual servings are fun and tasty.
What Is Dry Brine Turkey?
When searching for easy turkey recipes (let's skip the giant vat of boiling oil, shall we?) you'll run into a few terms that you'll need to know.
Turkey brine: Brining is soaking your turkey in saline water (salt water) overnight. The turkey will absorb some of the water and the salt is supposed to make the turkey contract less while it's in the oven. Some people love brining but many believe the extra juiciness in the turkey is watery. But, if you want to do the best turkey brine, just find a container large enough to fit your whole turkey, mix kosher salt 1 cup to 1 gallon of water plus your favorite seasonings. Some people even add a dry Reisling to the brine. Dissolve the salt, put the Thanksgiving turkey into the brine and find some way to keep it refrigerator cold over night. Then rinse well before cooking.
Turkey seasoning: We consider it turkey seasoning when you put the seasoning on the turkey or under the skin right before you cook the turkey. This is the type of seasoning you'll find in most easy turkey recipes.
Dry brine turkey: Dry brining is spreading a dry salt and turkey seasoning on the turkey under the skin for a day or two before cooking. This adds all the flavor and helps make it juicier without watering it down. Dry brine turkey can be done as your turkey is defrosting as well, as long as the outside is defrosted. Read below for how to defrost a turkey.
CREAMY MASHED POTATOES
GRANNY SMITH APPLE PIE
How To Defrost A Turkey
There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey.
How to defrost a turkey in the refrigerator. Keep the turkey in its original packaging. Place the turkey breast side up in a container or pan to catch any drips. It will take a full 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 20 pound turkey will take 4 days to thaw. Once it is defrosted you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 more days.
How to defrost a turkey in cold water. Keep the turkey in it's original packaging. Place it in a larger plastic bag that is leak proof. Try to get all the air out of the bag and seal. Place the bag breast side down in a sink or container large enough for the turkey to be completely under water. Fill your container with cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. It will take about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. A 20 pound turkey will take 10 hours this way. You might need to place something heavy on the turkey to keep it under water. Cook immediately after thawing.
How to defrost a turkey in the microwave. Remove the plastic packaging from the turkey. Remove any metal tags or clips. Place the turkey breast side up in a microwave safe container to catch drips. Every microwave is different so read the manual for your microwave. It should take an hour to an hour and a half to defrost in a microwave but it depends on the microwave. Clean your microwave well when it is thawed. Cook immediately after thawing.
Dry Brine Turkey Seasoning Ingredients:
- Turkey: While we do like cooking turkey breast sometimes, you'll need a whole turkey to dry brine a turkey.
- Spices: Whole black peppercorns, thyme, sage, rosemary and salt.
FAQs About Home Cooked Turkey
After your dry brine turkey is cooled, store in a container with a lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
After your Thanksgiving turkey has completely cooled, wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
This turkey recipe is naturally gluten free.
This turkey recipe is naturally dairy free.
No, resist the temptation to rinse your dry brined turkey.
If you only have one day then that will have to do but more time is better to allow the salt and seasonings to permeate down through more layers of the meat. If you can brine for 2-3 days that is best. Consider beginning the dry brine before your turkey is fully defrosted then continue brining for 2 days after it is defrosted.
How to Make Dry Brine Turkey:
Step 1: Use a mortar and pestle to grind and mix black peppercorns, dry, and fresh herbs.
Step 2: Stir ground spice mixture with the kosher salt.
Step 3: Rinse and pat dry the turkey. Be sure that you have removed the giblets.
Step 4: Slide your hands between the turkey skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin and create as much separation as possible.
Step 5: Rub the salt mixture evenly over the breast meat, leg meat, and as far as you can reach between the skin and meat. Rub some of the salt mixture inside the neck and body cavities. You can also rub some of the mixture over the outside of the skin.
Step 6: Place the prepared turkey in a pan or dish and set in the refrigerator to brine for at least 24 hours.
Step 7: Proceed with cooking the turkey using whichever method you prefer. Do not rinse the brine from the turkey before cooking.
Step 8: One of the most contested things about cooking a turkey is what temperature to cook a turkey. Our preferred cooking method is to roast at 325°F until cooked (typically about 3-4 hours for a 15-pound turkey). We like to baste the turkey every 30 minutes with its juices. Some turkeys will cook up quickly so if you have an instant read thermometer check the turkey a little early to make sure you don't overcook.
Make sure the temperature of the turkey breast is 165 degrees. Do not eat undercooked poultry.
Ways to Use Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers
- Turkey Sandwiches: Top the leftover rolls with turkey, cranberries and mashed potatoes, stuffing, dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
- Turkey Noodle Soup: Chop up carrots, onion and celery and sauté in a stock pot. Combine turkey broth, egg noodles and turkey to make soup. Add a little garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano and a. bay leaf.
- Turkey Shepherd's Pie: Make our shepherd's pie recipe and sub the beef for turkey.
- Turkey Enchiladas: Substitute turkey for the chicken in our favorite enchiladas recipe.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
PARMESAN ROASTED BROCCOLI
- 15 pound whole turkey - thawed
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1-2 teaspoons ground thyme, dried sage, or other dried herbs
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary and/or fresh sage - finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Use a mortar and pestal to grind and mix black peppercorns, dry, and fresh herbs.
- Stir ground spice mixture with the kosher salt.
- Rinse and pat dry the turkey. Be sure that you have removed the giblets.
- Slide your hands between the turkey skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin and create as much separation as possible.
- Rub the salt mixture evenly over the breast meat, leg meat, and as far as you can reach between the skin and meat. Rub some of the salt mixture inside the neck and body cavities. You can also rub some of the mixture over the outside of the skin.
- Place the prepared turkey in a pan or dish and set in the refrigerator to brine for about 24 hours.
- Proceed with cooking the turkey using whichever method you prefer. Do not rinse the brine from the turkey before cooking.
- Our preferred cooking method is to roast at 325°F until cooked (typically about 3-4 hours for a 15-pound turkey). We like to baste the turkey every 30 minutes with its juices.