We have so many wet brine turkey recipes and videos that it was about time that we explained dry brining, its differences and benefits. As I mention in the corresponding video, dry brining is not necessarily better than wet brining, but rather its just different than wet brining. Each have their pros and cons. With that said, there are many people that prefer dry brining.
The major benefit of dry brining poultry is you can obtain crispy skin. This is especially beneficial when smoking which can often lead to a more rubbery skin. Dry brining also imparts a deep flavor into the turkey without the mess of a wet brine. It takes up less room as you can brine on a rack in the refrigerator in your refrigerator as opposed to needing a space to hold an entire turkey submerged in liquid in a large brine bag, cooler or bucket.
You can dry brine for 12 - 48 hours. In our Dry Brined Turkey YouTube video, we dry brined a 12 lb turkey for 15 hours, but I would recommend brining it even longer if you have the time.
The rule of thumb for the dry brine is you need 1 T of salt per 4 pounds of poultry. You can also add other seasonings or black pepper to your liking.
Meat Church How To YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/If9P5a53Tnc
Be sure to check out the other 13 turkey recipes and videos we have on meatchurch.com: https://www.meatchurch.com/blogs/recipes/tagged/turkey
- 1 12 lb turkey
- 3 T, salt (at least, adjust to your preference)
- 1 T, Meat Church Texas Sugar (sub your fav seasoning or black pepper)
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Wire Rack
- Baking pan
Prepare the Turkey
Dry brining works on a traditional turkey, spatchcock turkey or any type of turkey for that matter. I prefer to spatchcock my turkeys as we did in this video, so it cooks quicker and more evenly.
Using a pair of kitchen shears or a butcher knife, remove the backbone by cutting along side both sides of it and removing. Place the turkey skin side up, apply pressure and flatten it with both hands.
Prepare the Brine
Thoroughly mix the salt & Texas Sugar. For this 12 lb turkey you will need 3 T of salt. It is ok to add slightly more. The rule of thumb for the dry brine is you need 1 T of salt per 4 pounds of poultry. I added 4T in this video. You can also add other seasonings or black pepper as this will be the only time you season the turkey.
Dry Brine the Turkey
Using your hands apply the seasoning ALL OVER the turkey making sure to get underneath the legs and wings.
Work your hands carefully underneath the skin of the breast separating the skin from the meat being careful not to pop any holes in the skin. Apply seasoning under the skin on the breast meat.
Optionally, place pats of butter in between the meat and the skin. You can also do this just prior to the cook, but depending how long you dry brine, the skin may not be very pliable 1-2 days from now.
Place the turkey on a wire rack on top of a lined baking pan in your refrigerator to dry brine. The refrigerator is a very dry and will also help dry out the skin which will contribute to crispier skin.
Dry brine for 12 - 48 hours. In this Dry Brined Pellet Grill Video we brined for 15 hours, but my preference is to dry brine for at least 24 hours if you have the time and space.
Prepare your Pellet Grill
Prepare your pellet grill to a temperature of 325 with hickory, pecan, maple or alder. If you want a more subtle smoke you can also use fruit wood. We used a Traeger Timberline XL with Meat Church pellets (oak\hickory) in this video.
If I am cooking above 300 degrees I do not use an offset smoker as I do not like to run the temperature that high in an offset. We have several turkey videos utilizing our offset smokers however which can be found here.
Cook the Turkey
Place the turkey into the pellet grill. Rotate the turkey or cover any tips with foil during the cook if you feel that parts are getting too dark.
Cook the turkey until it reaches 160 in the deepest part of the breast. The turkey will continue to carryover cook a few more degrees to get to the USDA recommended 165.
Since our goal with this cook is crispy skin, we are not going to baste with butter throughout the cook as moisture is the arch nemesis of crispy skin.
Once you reach 160, remove the turkey from the pellet grill.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Carve, and enjoy that crispy skin with your family!