Dry Rubbed Roast Turkey

Updated: Jan 31

It’s Turkey Time…and this Dry Rubbed Roast Turkey is The Bomb! Why is it the bomb because it’s absolutely tasty and easy to execute which is a win win in my book.  On Thanksgiving we all need to be partying and cooking all at the same time, so let’s keep it simple! 🤪

Last year I was all about the wet brine with my Juiciest Turkey recipe but this year it’s all about the Dry Rubbed Roasted Turkey that was inspired from Bon Appetit recipe. I do different turkeys every year and this year I decided to give this dry brine method a try and I was seriously blown away by the result. I’m super attracted to make-ahead recipes for my holiday menus and one of the most exciting aspects of this recipe is that you will get all the messy turkey prep out of the way up to 3 days in advance of Thanksgiving Day.

As I always do at Ali in the Valley I added my essence rub on top of their dry rub recipe and let me tell you this turkey recipe is the BOMB!


Dry brining is the process of applying a dry rub consisting of coarse salt and seasonings to a cut of meat, in this case a whole turkey, and then allowing it to rest in the refrigerator for two or three days.

The salt works to draw out the turkey’s juices and then the salt dissolves in the juices. It’s all reabsorbed back into the turkey to help break down the tough muscle proteins. A little scientific but definitely AMAZING. The result – a bird that is succulent, juicy, tender, and flavorful. Resting uncovered for at the last part of the chilling time dries out the skin a bit, resulting in that beautifully browned, crispy skin you see in the images in this post.

This dry method is SO much cleaner and easier than a wet brine and I believe the result is at least as good if not better. Plus, it eliminates the need to hunt down a container large enough to accommodate gallons of water and a big turkey. Not to mention the refrigerator space. You can start the process up to 3 days in advance of Thanksgiving and when the big day arrives, your turkey will require only a minimal amount of remaining prep before you pop it in the oven to roast.

While this turkey requires a bit of prep work, by creating the rub and then allowing the turkey sit for about a day ahead of cookingyou will be happy you put in the extra effort. The chili rub is full of deep flavors and just a little spicy. It contrasts perfectly with the sweet fruity oranges the turkey is stuffed with. Just wait for the aromas wafting through the kitchen! So, if you want to add a little spice to your holiday dinner, try out this non-traditional turkey recipe.  

One of the biggest holiday dinner cardinal sins is not buying enough food for the number of guests around your table. In order to avoid that issue I abide by the rule of thumb of buying about 1¼ – 1½ pounds of turkey per person. If you are someone who likes to have plenty of leftovers to make sandwiches and turkey hash then lean more towards 1½ pounds per person. Plus I like to tack on an extra pound or so just to account for any last minute guests that may show up and you can never have enough.


Either a fresh or frozen turkey will work but it is important to select a natural turkey that has not been injected with a salt solution. As much as I love Butterball turkeys, they should not be brined. You also want to avoid Kosher turkeys which have been pre-salted. Read the package and select a natural turkey that has been minimally processed. If salt is listed as an ingredient, keep looking. If you are unsure, talk to the butcher at your local grocery store and they should be able to steer you in the right direction.I picked up my 16-pound turkey from Trader Joes. They had the best selection of minimally processed turkeys in my area.


It takes approximately 1 day (24 hours) per 4 pounds to thaw in the refrigerator, so, for instance, if you have a 16 pound turkey, it will take 4 full days to thaw completely. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet before placing it in your fridge in case any juices escape the packaging while thawing. Or buy it fresh and it’s ready to rock and roll.


You’ll see a variety of ingredients included in dry brine recipes including seasonings, sugar, and even citrus zest but the main and most important ingredient is coarse kosher salt. Salt alone will do the trick but in addition I included freshly ground black pepper, dried thyme, and dried rubbed sage to infuse some herb-y flavor. I opted to add fresh herbs (thyme, sage and rosemary) to the cavity of my turkey .


At least two and up to three days before you plan to roast your turkey, remove the completely thawed bird from the packaging and remove the giblets. There is no need to rinse the turkey with water and in fact, it is not recommended for food safety concerns. Just  pat the cavity and outside of the turkey dry with paper towels. I like to work on a foil lined board for easy cleanup.

Combine the dry brine ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle some of the dry brine inside the cavity and use your hands to spread it around. Then carefully lift up the skin covering the breast meat and spread some of the brine directly on the meat under the skin. The remaining brine should be spread over the exterior of the bird.


Transfer the seasoned bird to a rack in your roasting pan or a large rimmed baking sheet (whatever fits best in your fridge). Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, transfer it to the fridge, and go about your life! It should be refrigerated, covered, for one to two days. Two days is better if you have enough time, especially if you are roasting a larger bird.

At this point you’ll remove the plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least an additional 8 hours or for up to 24 hours. This helps the skin dry out a bit and will result in that gorgeous browned, crispy skin. If you are like me, you’ll need to set a reminder on your phone to remove the plastic wrap. I am seriously overloaded the day before Thanksgiving so my brain is not exactly running on all cylinders.


When the big day arrives be sure to remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour on your kitchen counter before roasting to take the chill off.

Don’t rinse the turkey before roasting. Don’t do it! This will defeat the whole drying process and you won’t get that nice crisped skin. The salt will have been absorbed and done it’s job and the turkey will not taste salty. Add any variety of aromatics you’d like to the cavity of the turkey before roasting. I went with rosemary, thyme, and sage. Lemon, fresh herbs, oranges and onions and celery are also wonderful options.


The last step before roasting is to slather the bird with a mixture of softened butter, olive oil, and granulated garlic. The garlic butter rub goes both under the skin of the breast portion and all over the exterior of the turkey.


Roast the turkey at 325 degrees F for about 12 to 15 minutes per pound, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when measured in the thickest part of the thigh. Brined turkeys can have a tendency to cook a bit faster so watch it closely towards the end of the cooking time.


You will need to have plenty of broth on hand since brined turkeys will not let off as much cooking liquid while roasting. This is a good thing because the juices stay in the bird! Add a couple of cups of chicken or turkey broth to the roasting pan before it goes in the oven.

Baste the turkey often during the roasting process to encourage the skin to brown and crisp, adding additional broth when needed. I used an this aromatic taste baste recipe with worcestershire, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, rosemary, orange and butter.


Once you pull it from the oven, tent the roasting pan with foil and let the turkey rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving to help the turkey retain as much of the juice as possible.

I wish you all a festive Thanksgiving and a fabulous feast. I’d love to hear what you’re making so feel free to comment or drop me a line. 

Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!

Ali in the Valley

Don’t forget to tag @aliinthevalley your thanksgiving dishes you make from my recipes. 

Dry Rubbed Roast Turkey

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