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Roasted Dry-Brined Turkey

For a beautiful, natural garnish, arrange fresh sage and bay leaves, cracked walnuts, and cranberries around the roasted turkey. Taste the gravy before deciding whether to season with salt.

  • Servings: 14
Roasted Dry-Brined Turkey

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2008



  • Pan drippings, reserved from turkey
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Simple Giblet Stock, or 4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium turkey or chicken stock
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 14 dried bay leaves, 10 crushed, 4 left whole
  • 1 whole fresh turkey (22 to 24 pounds), giblets and neck reserved for Simple Giblet Stock
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking dish if needed
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Leek-Celery Root Stuffing
  • 1 cup water, plus more if needed


  1. Make the turkey: Combine 2/3 cup salt and crushed bay leaves in a small bowl. Rinse inside and outside of turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub 2 tablespoons salt mixture evenly inside turkey cavity, 2 tablespoons on each leg portion, 1 1/2 teaspoons on each wing, and 2 tablespoons on each breast. Place turkey in a large oven bag and seal tightly, removing any trapped air. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate for 48 hours.

  2. Remove turkey from bag, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine 1 stick butter, the wine, and whole bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in lowest position. Rinse inside and outside of turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tuck wings under turkey. Season cavity with salt and pepper, and loosely fill it with 4 cups stuffing. (To bake remaining stuffing, see recipe below.) Tie legs together with kitchen string. Rub remaining 1/2 stick butter on turkey, and season with salt and pepper. Pour water into roasting pan.

  4. Place turkey, legs first, into oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then baste with butter-wine mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and roast, basting with butter-wine mixture every 30 minutes, for 2 1/2 hours. (Add more water to roasting pan if necessary to prevent pan drippings from burning.) Rotate pan, and roast until skin is golden brown and thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) and center of stuffing register 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer 30 to 45 minutes more. (If turkey is done before the stuffing, remove turkey from oven, and spoon stuffing into a buttered baking dish, and continue to roast until golden and center registers 165 degrees.) Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, reserving pan juices and roasting pan, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

  5. Make the pan gravy: Pour reserved pan juices into a glass measuring cup or a gravy separator, and let stand until fat rises to the surface, about 10 minutes. Pour or spoon off fat.

  6. Place reserved roasting pan on 2 burners over medium heat. Add wine, and bring to a gentle simmer, scraping browned bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk flour and giblet stock in a large bowl until combined. Add defatted pan juices, whisking to combine, then pour into roasting pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

  7. Remove pan from heat, and whisk in butter. Strain through a sieve, and discard solids. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

  8. To carve the turkey: Place the turkey in front of you, breast side up, and use your hand to hold it steady. Cut through kitchen string, and discard. Remove drumsticks first by placing a knife against the thigh, cutting alongside body, and slicing through the skin to expose the joint. Apply pressure at the joint with the tip of the knife, then twist the knife, and cut through the joint to release the drumstick. Repeat on the other side. (For an illustrated how-to, see Turkey Carving 101.)

  9. Use a long-handled spoon to scoop out the stuffing, and transfer it to a serving bowl. Slice the thigh meat from the bone.

  10. Place the knife horizontally at the bottom curve of the breast, and slice in toward the rib cage along the length of the breast to create a "guide cut." Then make a vertical slice from the top down alongside the rib cage to loosen the breast meat. Cut the breast vertically into 1/4-inch-thick slices, being careful to preserve some skin. Repeat on the other side. Insert the knife tip at wing joint closest to the turkey, and twist to release wing. Repeat on the other side.

Cook's Note

Make-ahead tip: Salt the turkey and make giblet stock up to two days in advance. Prepare ingredients for stuffing the day before; assemble and bake just before serving.

Reviews (21)

  • Tana Armitstead 19 Nov, 2012

    I made this turkey last year and will do so again every year! Though I was tempted by the latest Martha bird (the maple glazed beauty that just debuted in the last Living edition), I just couldn't resist coming back to this super juicy, flavorful turkey. I didn't make the dressing from this recipe and I did half bay half thyme for the herbs in the rub but besides that I did nothing different. MAKE THIS TURKEY!

  • Julie Pecaut Renaud 17 Nov, 2012

    I usually try a new turkey recipe every year, but this year I will be making this one again. Everyone raved over this one last year.

  • masquiner 20 Oct, 2012

    This is the best turkey you will ever cook! I also think it looks magnificent,a beautiful, deep mahogany brown. Being pleased with the way it looks will pale in comparison to the absolute hands down best tasting turkey ever. The gravy is out of this world delicious. You have to try this!! it is so much easier than getting a big tub to brine in and then keep it cold. Everyone will think you should cook the turkey on Thanksgiving.
    I now do my roasting chickens the same way.

  • 2fullmoon 27 Nov, 2011

    Was lucky to find an 11lb fresh Turkey in time to use this recipe and saved the added cost of using a different brine on this site that req several ingredients. Being that my bird was half the size, I used half as much brine. After rinsing the brine, seasoned with salt and pepper as directed but with a light hand. Stuffed it and was amazed - only took two hours and forty minutes to cook to perfection -165 degrees. Simple, very tasty even w/o gravy - will definitely be using this recipe again

  • jgroves 24 Nov, 2011

    Throw that turkey bag away! (except for the salt rub) YUM YUM and DOUBLE YUM! Just made this for 12 single guys (military) who couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving. This was an absolute hit! I normally use the turkey bags because it was "easiest" but was always disappointed that the skin was never crisp. This turned out great! Moist and skin just right, picture perfect! I used a white cooking wine instead of the regular wine b/c we don't drink and it turned out beautifully. Thank you Martha!

  • nascarria 20 Nov, 2011

    Made this last year and my family loved it. Most definitely making it this year! Very easy if you have the right salt.

  • nutellacrepe 20 Nov, 2011

    Note that is very important to use coarse (kosher) salt for this recipe. If you substitute regular table salt, use HALF as much. If you sprinkle 2 TB of table salt instead of 2TB of kosher salt, it will indeed be too salty because you will have used twice as much salt (by weight) as called for. Use 1TB of table salt mixture where the recipe says 2, and you should be okay. If nervous about it, go a bit scant.

  • NatashaDNP 9 Oct, 2011

    I will use this recipe FOREVER! This has been my go to Turkey for the past 3 years and it is such a hit! So simple to make and takes very very few ingredients. Always Always comes out exactly the same. The only thing I do differently is the way that I tie it up before roasting it.

  • beth0521 20 Nov, 2010

    I have made this turkey a few times and it always turns out beautifully. It is so easy to do, all you need is salt, butter, white wine, and bay leaves. My family loves how juicy the turkey is. My favorite recipe!

  • Cooploops 13 Nov, 2010

    I made this turkey the other day and it is awesome! I didn't have any problems with it being too salty. It was beautiful and moist!

  • milkandhoney 12 Nov, 2010

    I made this turkey two years ago for Thanksgiving and it was amazing!!! Picture perfect and so moist and tasty. I am on turkey duty again this year and I plan to make it again, so glad I was able to track down the recipe again!

  • NorbieK 3 Dec, 2009

    Martha u are totally hands on!!!!

  • JaneDeo 1 May, 2009

    I made this turkey recipe for Thanksgiving and am about to make it again to celebrate a US citizenship. It was GREAT! Everyone said it was the best turkey they had ever had - very juicy and flavorful. Combined with a good quality bird, it was wonderful.

  • yuan11ggyahoo 21 Apr, 2009

    I like this turkey.

  • yayamar85 6 Mar, 2009

    I never knew a turkey could come out so perfect. It was so juicy and flavorful and the skin was such a beautiful golden brown my husband didn't even want to cut into it. This was my first sttempt at a turkey alone and my family has officially decided that it will be my job from now on. It was super easy too. Thanks!

  • lindabing 24 Dec, 2008

    I am 31 and for the first time ever I needed to make a turkey for my family, some of which traveled from 5 states away so the pressure to produce a fabulous turkey was on! My goal was to create a juicey, flavorful turkey along with using my mom's homeade stuffing recipe. I improvised by using the dry brining method along with my own stock. The end results were peerfect as my family said they never had a more tender or juicer turkey and my mom decided to have me make all future turkeys!

  • coyotewoman 20 Dec, 2008

    This recipe produced the juiciest beautiful turkey I have ever made. I was very worried about the salt so I rinsed with impunity. It browned uniformly which made for a fantastic presentation at our table. Five forks rating.

  • aandesmom 28 Nov, 2008

    I made this recipe, followed the recipe exactly (washed it extremely well before stuffing) and also ended up with a turkey that was way too salty. Most of my family couldn't eat it because it was too salty- I am going to turn the frame and meat into a soup and hope for the best. It looked beautiful (just lilke the magazine cover) but what a disaster! What a shame- I spent a fortune on a free range, all natural turkey and it was inedible on Thanksgiving.

  • Pukashellgirl 27 Nov, 2008

    I tried this receipe and found it to be way to salty. I live in Hawaii and used awaiian course salt (I don'nk that made any difference though) and crushed bay leaves. Exactly as in receipe. The basting sauce was great. The turkey LOOKED perfect and was truly golden brown, moist, and very salty. (I did rinse the bird very good). The butter does not burn. Next time I'll use less salt. Aloha

  • Pukashellgirl 27 Nov, 2008

    I made this receipe and found it to be way to salty. I live in Hawaii and used Hawaiian course salt ( I didn't think this would make a difference) and crushed bay leaves, just as the receipe calls for . The basting sauce was great. The bird LOOKED perfect, truly golden brown, juicy and TOO salty. I'll try again with much less salt. Aloha

  • katie2000 25 Nov, 2008

    Does anyone know if butter makes the skin of the turkey darken or burn too fast? isn't oil better then?
    Also, does she cover the turkey with a lid or something when inside the oven?
    Thanks for your help.

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