This Is How Much Salt You Need to Dry Brine a Turkey

This Is How Much Salt You Need to Dry Brine a Turkey

Dry brining is the simple act of sprinkling a food (usually meat) with a solute (usually salt, but sometimes a mixture of salt and sugar) to flavour it. The salt draws moisture out of the meat, then the moisture dissolves the salt, allowing it to penetrate into the flesh, seasoning it and keeping it juicy. It is, however, hard to find clear guidelines for how much salt your should use.

According to Serious Eats, which recommends preparing a mixture of half a cup of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or six tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt) and two tablespoons of baking powder, the application should be “generous,” but generosity can be hard to measure:

Generously sprinkle the salt mixture on all surfaces by picking up the mixture between your thumb and fingers, holding it six to 10 inches above the bird, and letting the mixture shower down over the surface of the turkey for even coverage. The turkey should be well coated with salt, though not completely encrusted.

These instructions are fine if you’re comfortable with cooking and seasoning, but it can give newbies and the precise a little trouble (especially if you are more of a baker, and used to the precision of baking recipes). Luckily, Food & Wine magazine has shared a salt-to-meat ratio in the November 2022 issue of their print magazine:

Plan on 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of Diamond Kosher salt per pound for larger cuts of meat like beef chcuk and any cut of pork or poultry. (This adds up to 3 to 4 tablespoons for a 5 kg turkey.

That may seem like a lot of salt, but when you take stock of how many times you’ve had over-seasoned turkey, versus how many times you’ve had under-seasoned turkey, I think you will find the latter is far more common.

It should also be noted that Diamond Kosher salt has a larger crystal structure than other kinds of Kosher salt, so be careful when switching brands. It’s worth getting Diamond, however, as the larger grain size makes it easier to distribute evenly. Sprinkle and rub salt all over the entire bird, making sure to get under the skin so the salt makes direct contact with the breast. Allow to brine on a wire rack, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 24 hours, and roast as usual.


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