Nearly every bit of advice out there for roasting a turkey recommends brining the bird overnight to ensure that it is moist and tender. One of my favorite alternatives to having a giant ziplock bag of salty water in the fridge is the dry brine! An easy sprinkle of salt over the turkey is all you need for moist and tender meat. As an added bonus there’s not the struggle with the lifting the bird out of a giant bag of water. The resulting roasted turkey also has a super crispy crackling skin! I’ve add a touch of lemon zest to the salt brine to give it a little dimension. Overnight time is recommended for a wet brine (you don’t want to overbrine it) but with a dry brine, 2 or 3 days is perfectly fine and in fact, the longer you dry brine, the crisper the skin.
- Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and save for a different use. Dry the turkey with paper towels and place on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan that will fit in your refrigerator.
- Rub a sage leaf all over the turkey then loosen the skin of the breast near the neck end of the turkey. Carefully place 2 sage leaves under the skin on the left and right side of the breast. Repeat the process with the breast skin near the bottom of the turkey, placing the remaining 2 sage leaves underneath the skin.
- Mix the salt, brown sugar, pepper and zest in a small bowl together. Sprinkle a little of the salt mixture first in the inside of the turkey, no need to rub it in. Then flip and sprinkle the salt on the bottom of the turkey, and on the sides, then the top breast of the turkey, again no need to rub the salt in.
- Tie the legs of the turkey together with twine. Put the turkey breast side up on the rimmed baking sheet and then place in the refrigerator uncovered. Leave in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
- Once the turkey is done dry brining, take the turkey out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before roasting to warm up slightly. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place the turkey on the rack of the roasting pan. Place the onion quarters and lemon in the large cavity of the turkey carefully (the skin will be dry and brittle so be careful not to tear it). Brush the turkey with the melted butter all over and pour 2 cups of the chicken stock in the bottom of the pan.
- Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey and then reduce the heat to 325˚F. Continue to roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours more, basting every hour. Add more chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan as it dries out. A dry brine turkey will have less drippings than a wet brine or regular turkey. The turkey is done when the breast and thigh meat reaches 165˚F at its thickest part.