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How to Dry Brine and Spatchcock a Turkey

Citrus and Herb Dry-Brined Roasted Turkey

  • Author: Chef Resha
  • Total Time: 25 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings


Method inspired by Serious Eats.


  • 1 12-14 pound turkey (SEE NOTE)
  • Aromatics: garlic, onion, celery, fresh herbs, sliced citrus
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain kosher salt, plus more if needed (SEE NOTE)

Citrus-Herb Salt Brine

For the gravy

  • Giblets and backbone from turkey, chopped into pieces
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into large pieces
  • 12 stalks celery, chopped into 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped in half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • Aromatics: fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves.
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup turkey drippings
  • heaping 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Splash of Maple Cognac (or regular cognac)


Warning: you probably won’t need ALL of the salt for the outside of the skin, nor all of the brine mixture for under the skin and on the inside of the bird. The goal here is to salt it evenly, but not have it encrusted in salt. Please use discretion, but at the same time be liberal. If you find you need more, please use more. Turkey is extremely lean and notoriously dry, so it can take some extra salt to ensure its juiciness.

Equipment used: A large sheet pan

Combine all ingredients for the dry brine. 

  1. Rinse your bird thoroughly, pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Using super sharp kitchen shears, cut out the backbone and save it for the gravy along with the giblets.
  3. Flatten the breast meat down, using all of your weight, or a heavy cast iron skillet or pot to assist you. You want the bird in one even flat layer so it roasts evenly.
  4. Separate the skin from the meat of the turkey and massage some of your salt mixture onto the inside of the flattened bird, and under the skin.
  5. Sprinkle plain kosher salt all over the skin of the turkey. It shouldn’t be encrusted in salt, just a good even layer. Get all in the nooks and crannies. If you’re roasting the bird within the next 24 hours, do not cover it before you refrigerate it. This will allow the skin to dry out and roast up nice and crispy. If you’re cooking the bird in 2-3 days, keep it covered with plastic wrap (loosely) during that time to prevent excess moisture loss. Remove the plastic during the last 12-24 hours though.
  6. Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before you’re ready to roast it, so that it comes to room temperature.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and scatter some random aromatics (garlic, onion, celery, carrot, fresh herbs, citrus) just to give the turkey a bed to lay on so that the bottom doesn’t burn. Rub the skin with olive oil.
  8. Place turkey in the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer in the breast meat registers 150 degrees, and the dark meat registers 165 degrees, about 80-90 minutes. Quick note: Adjust oven temperature if your bird is browning too quickly. Start at 450 degrees, but if after 45 minutes, it’s getting too dark, reduce the heat. Cooking times will vary on the size of your bird, how hot your oven is, etc. Check the temperature after an hour. This is why a thermometer is SO important. A turkey with 150 degree breast meat is perfectly safe to eat if rested properly. Remove the bird once it’s at 145/150 and let it rest. It will continue to “cook” out of the oven, and the internal temperature will rise another 10 degrees or higher, depending on the bird. So resting is SUPER important for safe eats.
  9. Let the bird rest for one full hour before carving.

For the gravy

  1. Saute the backbone and neckbone in olive oil until browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add aromatics and cook an additional 4-6 minutes or until veggies have softened slightly. You can do this in a skillet and then transfer to a saucepan or you can do this in a saucepan from the start. Add enough chicken stock to cover the mixture, add fresh herbs and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 40-45 min or until visibly reduced. Strain mixture into a measuring cup or bowl along with 1/2 cup of the turkey drippings.
  3. Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, and add a heaping 1/4 cup of flour. Whisk for about two minutes to allow flour to cook out.
  4. SLOWLY add  2 cups of the hot broth mixture, a little at a time, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps.
  5. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes. Add a tiny splash more of the cooking liquid if your gravy is too thick. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Add a splash of Crown Royal Maple Cognac (or any liquor) and cook an additional minute or two.
  7. Serve with the turkey.


This spatchcock cooking method will only work on a medium-sized turkey that’s between 12 and 14 pounds. Anything larger, and you will risk overhang, which will result in overcooked/burnt legs.

Use the 1/4 cup of plain kosher salt JUST for the outside skin of the bird, and use the Citrus-herb Salt Bring mixture for the inside of the bird and under the skin. You more than likely won’t use all of the salty brine mixture for the underside and inside of the turkey. Use your best judgement, but keep in mind that turkey’s can take more salt than most proteins.

PLEASE use an instant-read thermometer to avoid overcooking or undercooking your turkey. Grab one now online, or hit your nearest store for one. They are lifesavers.

  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 85 minutes
  • Category: poultry
  • Method: dry brine, roasting
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: dry brined turkey, spatchcock turkey, thanksgiving

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