Dry Brine Turkey with Citrus Herb Butter

This easy turkey brine recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving. It imparts a fantastic flavor and is much easier than a wet brine turkey, and the citrus herb butter makes for the perfect roasted turkey!

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thanksgiving turkey

This Thanksgiving turkey brine recipe is a family favorite and has been made by many fans over the years who have all said it’s the best roasted turkey recipe ever. A brine turkey recipe is the only way to go, and this dry brine turkey recipe is so easy to make and so darn tasty. Of course you will need some side dishes for your Thanksgiving table, so make sure to check out my easy homemade cranberry sauce and my skillet cornbread recipe.

How to Brine a Turkey?

To brine a turkey, all you need is salt, brown sugar, and aromatics like garlic and black peppercorns. Dry brine a turkey is great technique to use at home, as it easy to do and imparts a fantastic flavor on to the turkey. The dry brine recipe I use has rosemary, thyme, brown sugar, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Mix up the ingredients well and then rub the brine all over the turkey. What the brine does is infuse moisture and flavor into the turkey. The salt draws the interior moisture to the surface, takes on the flavors of the herbs and citrus, and then goes back into the bird and brings all that yumminess with it.

Place the turkey on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap so it does not touch anything else in the fridge and stash the turkey in the fridge overnight (or for about 12 hours) to let the brine do it’s magic.

How to Roast a Turkey?

The most important thing to make a perfectly roasted turkey is too allow it to come to room temperature before roasting in the oven. A cold turkey will cook unevenly in the oven to be tough. It needs to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Before throwing the turkey in the oven, I like to use a few more flavor boosting techniques. Because let’s face it – white turkey meat needs a lot of love in the flavor department.

  • Once the brine has done it’s job in the fridge overnight, wash of the brine with water and pat the turkey dry.
  • Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and stuff it with celery, onions, apples, and cinnamon stick.
  • Take some herb butter and stuff it under the skin of the turkey. See below how I make the herb butter.
  • Drizzle a little oil on top of the turkey and massage it all over the skin. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt all over the turkey.
  • Use a roasting pan and cover the bottom with vegetables like celery, carrots, onions. Those will add a great flavor the the turkey drippings which  you can use for making a gravy later on.

How Long Do I Roast a Turkey For?

Roast the turkey at 350 degrees F for about 2-2.5 hours (for a 15lb turkey) or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. Use a probe thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temperature and be sure to stick it in the deepest part of the turkey between the leg and the breast. Once you take the turkey out of the oven the temperature will continue rising to about 165 degrees F, which is known as carry over cooking. I recommend letting the turkey rest for 1 hour before cutting into it. If you don’t wait, he juices will run out and the turkey meat will be dry.

How To Make Herb Butter for Turkey

The herb butter I use for this turkey recipes is super simple. You need a stick of room temperature unsalted butter, the zest of 1 lemon, one clove of garlic minced,  3 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs like dill, parsley, chives, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Mix that all together and slather it under the skin of the turkey just before roasting it. It will give the white turkey breast meat that much needed moisture and flavor.

Looking for more amazing Thanksgiving recipes? Check these out:

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thanksgiving turkey

Dry Brine Turkey with Citrus Herb Butter

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dry brine turkey, thanksgiving recipe, thanksgiving turkey, turkey
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours 30 minutes
Calories: 214 kcal
Author: Bobby Parrish

This Thanksgiving turkey recipe is a family favorite and has been made by many fans over the years who have all said it's the best roasted turkey recipe ever. A brine turkey recipe is the only way to go, and this dry brine turkey recipe is so easy to make and so darn tasty.



For the dry brine:

  • 8-10 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
  • 6 fresh sage leaves finely chopped
  • small handful of fresh thyme leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • Few cracks fresh pepper
  • Zest of two lemons

For the turkey roasting:

  • 15 pound turkey
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 apple quartered
  • 1 celery stalk roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Extra carrots celery, & onions

For the citrus herb butter:

  • 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs such as chives, dill, and parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Thoroughly rub the dry brine all over the exterior of the turkey and let sit in the fridge overnight. Place the turkey in a roasting pan or sheet tray as some liquid will run out.
  3. For the citrus herb butter, mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl using a spatula. Place the butter on a layer of plastic wrap, form the butter into a log, and roll it up using the plastic wrap. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees and wash the brine off the turkey in the sink. Make sure you pat the turkey dry with some paper towels. Season the cavity with 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 apple quartered, 1 onion peeled and halved, 1 stalk of celery, and 1 cinnamon stick.
  5. Carefully peel the skin back from the breast meat and rub the citrus butter all over each breast, reaching back deep on the breast. Season the entire outside of the turkey with a good pinch of kosher salt. Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a bed of carrots, celery, and onions and roast for 2-2.5 hours until the internal temperature reaches 155 F degrees in the thigh meat. If you want more color on the turkey, raise the oven temperature to 400 F degrees for the last 45 minutes.
  6. Let the turkey rest for 1-2 hours after it comes out of the oven.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Dry Brine Turkey with Citrus Herb Butter
Amount Per Serving
Calories 214 Calories from Fat 76
% Daily Value*
Fat 8.4g13%
Protein 32g64%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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2 thoughts on “Dry Brine Turkey with Citrus Herb Butter”

    1. well..it wont be a brine w/o the sugar…you can use stevia brown sugar! Either way..it still will impart flavor w/o the sugar.

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