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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, at room temperature
  • ½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary leaves
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 cups poultry stock, plus more as needed (Recipe included)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks, 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. To dry brine turkey: Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Place the turkey into a roasting pan and run your hand or handle of a wooden spoon gently between the skin and meat to loosen the skin, being careful not to tear it. 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 bottom shelf of the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

To dress and roast turkey: Remove turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rack in the lower third. To a small bowl, add butter and herbs; 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, transfer to oven, and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add 1 cup 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 the turkey 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 165°F, 2 hours or more, depending on the weight of the turkey. General rule for roasting poultry is to roast it for 15 to 20 minutes per pound.

Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a large platter. Tent turkey loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm and rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Strain pan drippings through a fine-mesh strainer set over a heatproof vessel, making sure to scrape off all browned bits from bottom of roasting pan. Once cool, fat can be skimmed off and saved for other recipes; save the drippings for making the gravy.

To serve: Using a carving knife, remove legs and thighs from the turkey. Slice breasts into ¼-inch slices and place on a serving platter with legs and thighs. Serve immediately.

Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen

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