Citrus Dry-Brined Turkey Recipe | Thanksgiving Recipes | PBS Food

Citrus Dry-Brined Turkey

Citrus Brined Turkey recipe

Get essential tips for dry-brining your Thanksgiving turkey from Adrianna Adarme at the Fresh Tastes blog.

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  • 13-pound turkey, thawed (see below for instructions on how to de-thaw)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fine-grain sea salt (kosher works great, too)
  • 1 (5-inch) sprig rosemary, leaves removed and mince, plus a few more sprigs for roasting
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and minced, plus a few more sprigs for roasting
  • 2 sage leaves, minced, plus a few more leaves for roasting
  • 1 lemon, skin zested and lemon cut into wedges
  • 1/2 naval orange, skin zested and orange cut into wedges
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander


  1. *To thaw the turkey, either transfer to the fridge for two days or (this is what I did), place the wrapped turkey in a large pot and fill with cold to lukewarm water. When the water turns ice cold, dump out and refill. Keep doing this until it is mostly de-thawed (about 6 hours). Transfer to the fridge overnight and by morning it will be completely ready to be brined.
  2. In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, add the salt, minced rosemary, minced thyme, minced sage leaves and zest from the lemon and half of an orange, bay leaf and ground coriander. Twist and grind and twist and grind again until the mixture resembles a coarse rub. (If you’re using a food processor, pulse it a few times until it’s all mixed together.)
  3. To prep the turkey, remove the gizzards and neck bone and put them in a new plastic bag and place them to the fridge (we’ll use them for the gravy, recipe coming soon!). Pat the turkey dry with a bed of clean paper towels. Note: You can wash the turkey if you like, but I’m of the notion that by washing poultry it actually makes quite a big mess and spreads bacteria around the kitchen.
  4. Transfer the turkey to the center of the brining bag. Roll down the sides of the bag; this will make it easier to get in there and rub the turkey. Flip the turkey over, breast-side down, and rub half of the salt mixture all over the backside. Flip it over, breast-side up, and rub the remaining mixture all over, being sure to even rub some in the cavity of the turkey. Wash your hands (this’ll be messy) and then press the sides of the bag, releasing any air that’s in the bag, and seal it. You want an airless bag. Roll the bag over the turkey and transfer to the fridge, so the bird is sitting breast-side up. Allow to brine for at least 24 hours.
  5. The following day, remove the turkey from the brining bag and transfer to the cooking rack that’s set inside of the roasting pan. Pat dry to remove any moisture from the turkey; allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour. (While the turkey is drying, moisture will drip into the roasting pan and that’s great!)
  6. At the 45-minute mark, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Pat the turkey dry one last time. Add a few extra sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage to the turkey's cavity, along with the reserved wedges of lemon and orange.
  7. Flip the turkey, breast-side down. Place in the oven to brown for 30 minutes.
  8. Flip the turkey over so it's breast-side up. Reduce the oven’s temperature to 350 degrees F. Cook for an additional 2 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature of the bird (inserted into the thickest part of the thigh) reads 165 degrees F. Be sure to check on it periodically. (I gave it a peek every 45 minutes or so.) If at any time the bird begins to brown too much, turn the heat down to 300 degrees F and don’t be afraid to tent it with a loose piece of foil. (Note: A “loose” piece of foil is important because you don’t want to steam the turkey!)
  9. When the turkey is done, carefully remove it from the roasting pan and transfer to a cutting board to rest for 30 minutes, before slicing it. While the turkey is resting, feel free to use the drippings to make gravy (this recipe is coming soon). Carve the turkey and serve.
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