This Is Actually The Best Way To Make A Turkey For Thanksgiving
SPOILER: It does NOT involve fitting a 5-gallon bucket in your fridge.
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, turkey is a non-negotiable. The thing is, turkey can be a little, well...dry.
It's called wet brining, and the thing is, wet brining is a pain in the ass.
After you find a 5-gallon container, get your turkey into it, and fill the whole thing up with liquid, you need to make room in your fridge for it. ANNOYING.
Dry brining is nbd: You rub the turkey with salt, sugar, and any spices you want, then let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight.
Overnight meaning at least 8 and up to 16 hours. See the full directions below.
Here are the ingredients you need to make a dry-brined roasted turkey:
First, take the turkey out of its packaging (do this over the sink) and remove the neck and giblets.
Rinse the turkey under cold water, then use paper towels to dry it thoroughly, inside the cavity and out.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the salt, brown sugar, and ground black pepper.
Put the turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet or in a large, shallow container, and rub the salt mixture (aka the dry brine) all over the turkey.
Make sure you also rub it under the skin of the breasts, and inside the cavity.
Put the turkey on the baking sheet in the fridge and let it sit, UNCOVERED, for 8 to 16 hours.
When you're ready to roast, rinse the turkey under cold water to get all the brine off, then dry it again with paper towels, outside and inside the cavity.
Put the rinsed, dried turkey in a roasting pan, on the rack.
Rub ¼ cup softened butter under the skin of the turkey, on the breast meat.
Truss the turkey if you want: This is optional, but it makes the roasted turkey look prettier in the end and helps the skin on the thighs get crispy.
Pour a cup of water or stock into the roasting pan, then roast the turkey at 500°F for 30 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 350°F, and roast until a thermometer inserted into the fattest part of thigh, right where it meets the breast, reads 155°F. That's about 1 ½ to 2 more hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird.
Let the turkey rest in the roasting rack for at least 20 minutes.
Simple Dry-Brined Roast Turkey
Serves 8 to 10
1 (14 to 16-pound) turkey, thawed, giblets and neck removed
⅓ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter
Rinse the turkey under cold water, then dry it thoroughly with paper towels, inside and out. Stir together the salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl, then rub the mixture all over the outside of the turkey and inside the cavity. Carefully pull the skin away from the breasts, just enough so that you can rub the brine underneath. Put the turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 12 hours (overnight).
Preheat oven to 500°F and position a rack on the bottom shelf. Make sure there's enough room for your turkey; take all the other racks out if you have to. Let your butter come to room temperature on the counter while you prepare the turkey.
Rinse the turkey it under cold water to wash away the brine, then dry it thoroughly with paper towels, inside and out. Place the turkey breast side up in a large turkey roasting pan with a rack and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Rub softened butter all over the breast meat of the turkey, carefully pulling the skin away from the breasts to rub butter underneath. Tie the legs together with a long piece of butcher's twine, then wrap the ends around both sides of the turkey and tie them tightly at the top, right where the turkey's neck used to be. Tuck the wings underneath the twine.
Add a cup of water to the pan and roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 500°F. (Starting the turkey at a super high temperature makes for crispier skin.) After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°F and continue to roast the turkey for 1½ to 2 hours more, turning the roasting pan after an hour, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155°F. When the turkey is done, let it rest for at least 20 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board, carve, and serve.