This Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! Plus how to make turkey stock and turkey tortilla soup!
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As this is a different stage of life for all of us, being apart from many of our friends and family, trying to keep illness at bay and keep everyone as safe as possible, it might seem like a strange time to be roasting a whole turkey.
But why should we wait until we have a crowd gathered around the table again before making this Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey?
Even though the grocery store shelves are not as full as they once were, I haven’t had any trouble finding whole frozen turkeys, and it’s a great way to get a lot of meals out of one protein.
Dry brining a whole turkey has become more popular lately for a number of reasons:
- it doesn’t take up as much space in the fridge as a wet brine
- it’s less messy
- the skin becomes dry in the fridge, which results in an ultra-crispy golden turkey
- it adds great flavor!
There are a lot of different ways to roast a turkey, but I wanted to keep this turkey recipe as simple as possible so that it’s easy to throw in if you are home for the day but have work to do or kids to help with schoolwork.
Cooking a whole turkey requires minimal prep, there is very little hands on work and a family can easily get many, many meals out of one turkey!
See my step by step recipe for making turkey stock and turkey tortilla soup below, as well as even more ways to make good use of that leftover turkey and stock.
A turkey’s cook time depends on a few factors, such as how large it is, how high your oven temperature is, and your method of cooking.
For this Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey, we’re focusing on a roasted turkey of about 11-12 pounds.
Because the cook time for a roasted turkey varies based on a number of factors, it’s always best to start checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer 1 hour before the cook time is up.
A whole turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey, and the juices run clear. Insert meat thermometer in the thickest part of the inner thigh, but not touching the bone.
In the refrigerator:
Cooked turkey can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days before using.
In the freezer:
Cooked turkey can be tightly wrapped, placed in a freezer bag, or in an airtight container (the first two options will do the best job of warding off freezer burn) for up to 3 months.
If you want to really stretch your cooked turkey, chop it all before freezing and freeze in small portions to add to pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and more.
Once you have roasted a turkey, the most logical next step is to use that turkey carcass to make some incredible turkey stock — with so many added nutritional benefits over the boxed stuff or bouillon!
Homemade turkey stock is an incredible base for any soup, as well as a great way not to let any of your turkey go to waste.
Since you can really make a turkey soup out of anything you need to use up from your fridge, pantry or freezer — vegetables, herbs, grains, milk or cream, etc. — it’s the perfect solution for making the most of what you have at any given time.
- Carve the meat from your turkey and enjoy, or set aside for another use (see my tips above on refrigerating or freezing cooked turkey!)
- Place the turkey carcass in a large pot (you may need to break the carcass into smaller pieces to fit)
- Add 2 onions, 3 large carrots, and 3 ribs of celery to the pot.
- Add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon minced garlic (or a couple garlic cloves, no chopping required)
- Fill the pot with water — there isn’t really a need to measure, as a turkey carcass from most average sized turkeys has a lot of flavor to go around, so I usually just fill it. You’re aiming for roughly 5-6 litres of water.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low, cover, and simmer 1-2 hours.
- When your turkey stock is done, you can let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, skimming the fat from the top before using if desired.
- If freezing, let cool slightly before pouring into freezer safe containers or large freezer bags. If using freezer bags, lay flat to freeze and then stack. Turkey stock can be frozen for up to 3 months.
I never throw out a turkey carcass anymore! There is just too much amazing flavor to be had, and since I am a big soup lover, it always gets made into turkey stock or broth.
Once you’ve followed my step by step recipe for making homemade turkey stock above, there are so many incredible ways to use it.
You can use your homemade turkey stock in most soup recipes, or try my Turkey Tortilla Soup included in the recipe card below!
This Turkey Tortilla Soup is mildly spiced (feel free to add a little more kick if you like!), with black beans and corn and loaded with crunchy tortilla strips!
If you want, you can make your own tortilla strips by frying strips of homemade or store bought tortillas in a shallow pan of oil until crispy, but with 3 young kids, I like to use store bought tortilla strips for an easy dinner recipe.
- Turkey Alfredo Stromboli
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Baked Tortellini with Turkey & Vegetables
- Turkey Noodle Soup (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
- One Pot Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe
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Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey
- 11-12 lb whole turkey (thawed if frozen)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar divided
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder) divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups water
Turkey Tortilla Soup
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 796 ml canned crushed tomatoes (28oz)
- 2 cups prepared turkey stock (see instructions in post above)
- 2 cups cooked, chopped turkey
- 341 ml canned sweet corn (12oz) undrained
- 1 cup black beans rinsed and drained
- tortilla strips, sliced jalapeno, shredded cheese, lime wedges, chopped avocado for garnish
Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey
- Place turkey in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic and pepper. Rub all over turkey and under the skin where possible, using a large spoon to loosen the skin if necessary.
- Place uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. It will dry out, but don't worry — that is normal!
- Remove turkey from the fridge 1 hour before roasting.
- Place turkey in a roasting pan or on a large rimmed sheet pan on a roasting rack. Use cooking twine to tie the legs together.
- Combine melted butter, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp minced garlic and brush over turkey.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Pour water into the bottom of the roasting pan and roast turkey at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, until just starting to brown.
- Reduce oven heat to 350 and continue roasting until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F in the breast, about 2-2.5 hours more.
- Remove turkey from the oven and let rest for 30-60 minutes before slicing.
Turkey Tortilla Soup
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or soup pot. Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add garlic, chili powder, paprika, salt, and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomatoes, stock, turkey, corn and beans. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve with sliced tortilla strips, sliced jalapeno, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and chopped avocado as desired.
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