Thanksgiving Turkey 101 // 11/17/21

Here's what I know about Thanksgiving turkey:

- People often feel intimidated by it.
- It's not hard to get it perfect, but there are rules that must be followed. 

Dry brining and flipping while roasting are the two keys to a perfect turkey. Dry brining enhances the bird's natural flavor and tenderness and prevents it from drying out while cooking. Flipping ensures an evenly cooked turkey, and, again, prevents it from drying out in the oven.

Here's how I have made four perfect Thanksgiving turkeys.

Edited to add: Now that I'm off of Instagram, Thanksgiving Shirt needed a permanent home, so here's a screen grab of the original post.


1. Buy a free-range organic bird. A delicious turkey starts on the farm. Here's how to determine the right size turkey.
2. Keep it in the refrigerator for one week before roasting. Try not to freeze it, if you can avoid it.
3. Dry brine it on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Dry brine is just a fancy term for salt. Here's my dry brine recipe for a 15 pound bird:

Combine the following thoroughly in a small bowl and set aside. 

- 3 tablespoons Morton's coarse kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons minced sage
- 3 teaspoons minced thyme (no stems)
- 3 teaspoons minced rosemary (no stems)
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder

After removing the neck, giblets, and plastic hanger inside, rinse the turkey thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Generously apply the brine mixture to the entire exterior of the turkey until it is completely coated. Sprinkle any excess brine mixture inside the cavity. Gently wrap the turkey in butcher paper (plastic wrap is okay too) and refrigerate for two days.

*I place the turkey into the oven 2.5 hours before the meal is set to start.

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. 
2. Place the turkey breast-side down in a roasting pan. For a 15 pound bird, cook for 45 minutes breast side down.
3. After 45 minutes, remove the bird from the oven. Carefully turn the bird over (use hot pot holders and utensils for this – and recruit a friend). Place it breast-side up in the pan and return it to the oven. Cook for 60 minutes. 
4. Remove the bird and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. The breast should read 165ºF and the thigh should read 175ºF. Rest for 30 minutes before carving. Serve immediately.

(additional info here about cook times for various sizes of turkeys, how to carve, and homemade gravy)