Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings

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This Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey is perfectly golden and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! The best roast turkey you’ll ever have!

whole dry brine turkey overhead on wooden cutting board with parsley

The holiday season is upon us again and it’s time to talk turkey! Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey to be exact, which is really the only roast turkey recipe we need for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Once I started dry brining, I’ve never turned back. There are times when a traditional turkey brine is the way you want to go, or maybe you’re having a smaller gathering and you just want a simple Roast Turkey Breast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

But a dry brine turkey can’t be beat when you’re feeding a hungry crew and you want to keep things simple.

Why we love a dry brine:

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 (and you don’t need a jumbo stock pot to do it!)
  • 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 do up a roast turkey, but I wanted to keep this turkey recipe as simple as possible because we all know there are a hundred other things to do, too!

side image of whole roast turkey on cutting board with fresh parsley

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 (even if you’re not feeding a crowd!).

We love roasting a whole turkey any time of the year!

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How to dry brine a turkey:

Dry brining is easy to do and the perfect way to simplify your holiday dinner!

  1. Make your brine: just salt, sugar, garlic and pepper!
  2. Rub it down: rub the brine all over the skin and underneath where you can — more coverage equals more flavor!
  3. Refrigerate: place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days. I recommend a minimum of 24 hours for best flavor. Don’t worry when it starts to try out and look kind of strange! That is normal.
  4. Roast: let come to room temperature before roasting for the most even cooking results. Watch that turkey turn the most perfect golden brown as it cooks!
close up image of dry brine roast turkey whole

Dry Brine Turkey FAQs

How long to cook a turkey?

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.
A good starting point would be 10-12 minutes per pound for unstuffed, or 13-15 minutes for a stuffed turkey.

How long do you dry brine a turkey?

You can dry brine your turkey for as little as 12 hours or up to 3 days. I like to aim somewhere in the middle — between 24 and 48 hours for best results. If you cook it too soon, your skin may not be as crispy and your meat may not be as juicy.

Can I skip the sugar?

Absolutely! The brown sugar just adds a subtle sweetness and adds to the caramelization of the turkey skin.

Will my roast turkey be salty?

No! It will be well-seasoned, but not overly salty. The brine adds a lot of flavor and moisture, but it should not taste salty even though it seems like a lot of salt.

Do I need to rinse a dry brine turkey before roasting?

No! Rinsing the skin will add moisture to the skin and prevent it from browning.

What temperature should a turkey be cooked to?

A whole turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer reads 170°F (77°C), and the juices run clear. Insert meat thermometer in the thickest part of the inner thigh, but not touching the bone.
Since a number of factors can play into the correct cook time, it’s a good idea to start checking the internal temperature 30-60 minutes before the cook time is up.

How to store leftover cooked turkey:

Leftover turkey can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
It can also be frozen (tightly wrapped, in a freezer bag or an airtight container) for up to 3 months.
You can also chop leftover turkey meat and freeze in smaller portions to add to soups, salads and pastas.

fork and knife being used to slice turkey breast from roast dry brine turkey

How to Make Turkey Stock:

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!

turkey stock with vegetables in black pot overhead on marble

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.

  1. Carve the meat from your turkey and enjoy, or set aside for another use (see my tips above on refrigerating or freezing cooked turkey!)
  2. Place the turkey carcass in a large pot (you may need to break the carcass into smaller pieces to fit)
  3. Add 2 onions, 3 large carrots, and 3 ribs of celery to the pot.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 2 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon minced garlic (or a couple garlic cloves, no chopping required)
  5. 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.
  6. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low, cover, and simmer 1-2 hours.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
how to make turkey stock  in glass jars with blue towel

More recipes to make with leftover turkey:

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Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey recipe

5 from 6 votes
This Garlic Brown Sugar Dry Brine Turkey is perfectly golden and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! The best roast turkey you'll ever have!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 12 servings
Calories 476cal


  • 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


  • Place turkey in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine salt, ¼ 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.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 476cal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 64g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 223mg | Sodium: 2726mg | Potassium: 676mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 284IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 3mg
Keywords dry brine turkey, tortilla soup, turkey soup

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Terri says

    I have made this recipe 3 times now. It has turned out perfectly with very little (practically no) effort! I have followed it up with the broth and soup each time. I am so happy to have discovered this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it online.

    • Sandy says

      I haven’t tried the recipe yet but in the video and in the directions, she doesn’t mention or comment about foil or covering the bird. I wondered that too but I’m not going to based on what I see.

      • Ashley Fehr says

        She doesn’t mention it because it’s not required 🙂 All required steps are listed in the recipe card. If you notice it is browning too quickly, you can tent it, but I’ve never covered a turkey while it’s roasting. The golden skin is what we want 🙂

    • Michele says

      I have not tried this recipe, but I’m planning on trying it this Thanksgiving. I have never cooked a turkey uncovered. I stuff my bird and usually uncover. It the few minutes getting the skin nice and crispy. Also I have always been told to remove the turkey at a temp. of 155 let rest to the temp of 160.

  2. Paula Campos says

    I have a question…do you rinse the turkey after dry brining and before applying the butter, garlic and brown sugar? Many thanks!

  3. wilhelmina says

    This is my new favorite dry brine! The turkey turned out juicy and flavorful and I can’t wait to use the leftovers to try this soup!

5 from 6 votes (1 rating without comment)

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