Maple-Sage Dry-Brined Turkey

Dry brining provides many of the benefits of wet brining without the mess. Here’s a great dry-brined turkey recipe for Thanksgiving.

By Yankee Magazine

Nov 09 2016


Maple-Sage Dry-Brined Turkey

Photo Credit : Elizabeth Cecile

Dry brining (really just a fancy version of pre-salting) provides many of the benefits of wet brining (enhanced flavor, juicier meat) without the mess. You simply coat the turkey with salt, herbs, and a bit of maple sugar and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least one day, preferably three. The good news: If your turkey is frozen, you can thaw and brine at the same time.


12 to 14 servings of turkey; about 5 cups gravy

For the turkey:


1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup maple sugar (or 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar)
1/2 tablespoons rubbed sage (see Notes)
1/2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 13- to 15-pound fresh (untreated) turkey (see Notes), giblets and neck removed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 medium onion, quartered
1 large apple, cored and quartered
5 sprigs fresh sage
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup (any grade)
Garnish: Fresh sage and rosemary sprigs, pomegranates


Two days before cooking, whisk together the salt, maple (or brown) sugar, sage, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the salt mixture evenly over the outside of the bird and rub into the cavities as well. Place the turkey in a large, food-grade plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the bird breast-side-down on the second day. The night before you plan to roast the turkey, remove it from the bag and set it breast-side-up in a rimmed pan. (This produces crisper skin.)

On Thanksgiving morning, rinse the bird well and pat completely dry with paper towels. Rub the skin all over with the butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon pepper. Stuff the main cavity with the onion, apple, and sage. Truss the legs with kitchen twine.

Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack to the lower third of the oven. Set the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and let it sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the broth into the bottom of the pan and transfer it to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325° and roast, basting with the pan juices every 45 minutes, adding more broth as needed to maintain some liquid in pan. Add the maple syrup to the pan juices during the last 45 minutes of cooking, basting the turkey twice during this time. (Tent the bird with foil if it is browning too quickly.) The bird will be done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 2 1/2 to 3 hours total.

Transfer turkey to a platter; tent with foil. Let rest at least 30 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

For the gravy:


Drippings from the roasting pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
1 tablespoon rum
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Set the roasting pan with the drippings over two burners on your stove and set both to medium heat. Whisk in the flour until completely coated with drippings and smooth. Whisk in the broth, picking up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the rum and cook, stirring, until the gravy is thickened and smooth (if needed, run it through a strainer). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.