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Dry-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Butter

Serves: Makes 10 to 12 servings


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for stock
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary leaves
  • 1 to 2 cups poultry stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large stalks celery, trimmed and diced into 1-inch pieces


Don’t forget to purchase your turkey far enough in advance to account for thawing and brining times, at least four days for a twelve pound frozen turkey.

For dry brining: Wash the turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Place the turkey into the roasting pan and run your hand gently between the skin and meat to loosen the skin, being careful not to tear the skin. Loosen as much skin as possible over the breasts, legs and thighs. Rub the meat under the skin with salt to coat the meat evenly, again taking care not to rip the skin. Transfer turkey uncovered to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

To dress and roast turkey: Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rack in the lower third. Remove turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. In a small bowl, combine butter with the chopped herbs and stir to combine. Rub the turkey with the butter mixture, coating all parts equally. If needed, gently stretch skin to cover breast meat completely. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together at the ankles and tuck wing tips under breasts.

Place a heavy roasting rack inside a large roasting pan and lightly oil the rack. Place turkey breast side up on roasting rack. Move turkey to oven and roast for 60 minutes. After 30 minutes, add 1 cup of stock to the roasting pan to prevent pan drippings from scorching.

After 60 minutes, remove roasting pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Baste with pan juices. Scatter onion, carrot and celery pieces across bottom of roasting pan, stirring to coat with pan juices. Return turkey to oven and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 170°F, 2 hours or more, depending on weight. Remove turkey from oven, place roasting pan on a heatproof surface, and tent turkey loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Rest the turkey for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Strain pan drippings, pressing on solids to remove liquid, and degrease drippings to make gravy.

To serve: Remove legs and thighs using a sharp carving knife. Slice the breasts into ¼-inch slices and place on a serving platter with legs and thighs. Serve immediately.

Recipe developed for Sur La Table’s Cooking Classes

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