Why so long? The multiday dry brine (rubbing the bird with salt) gives the seasoning enough time to penetrate the meat for ultimate flavor and juiciness.


Credit: Photography by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

Recipe Summary test

2 hrs


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, measure 1 tbsp. kosher salt (if using Diamond Crystal) or 1 1/2 tsp. (if using Morton) for each 5 lb. of turkey. Add the salt mix-ins (if using). Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry; place, breast-side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle some of the salt on the back and sides of the turkey; sprinkle some in the cavity. Turn the turkey over. Sprinkle with the remaining salt, using more of the salt over the larger parts of the bird.

  • Transfer the turkey to a large turkey roasting bag; seal the bag. Wash and dry the baking sheet. Place the turkey in the bag on the sheet. Refrigerate for 2 days. On Tuesday, turn the turkey over. Refrigerate for 1 day. On Wednesday, remove the turkey from the bag. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry. Place the turkey on the sheet, breast-side up. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 more day to dry out the skin.

  • On Thursday, transfer the turkey, breast-side up, to a rack set inside a roasting pan. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour 2 cups water in the roasting pan.

  • Arrange a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 425°. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the herbs, orange, and leek (if using). Brush the turkey all over with some of the melted butter; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

  • Roast the turkey, rotating the pan and brushing the turkey with butter every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165° or the breast registers 160°, about 1 hour, 20 minutes to 1 hour, 40 minutes. (If the pan gets dry during roasting, add 1 cup water.) Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Tilt the turkey so the juices from the cavity drain into the pan. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Place the pan on the stovetop over 2 burners. Using a large spoon, skim the fat off the juices. Add the Make-Ahead Gravy and stir over medium-high heat until bubbly. Slice the turkey; transfer to a platter. Serve with the gravy.

  • 4 Days Ahead: Salt the turkey and refrigerate.

  • 2 Days Ahead: Turn the turkey over and refrigerate.

  • 1 Day Ahead: Pat the turkey dry. Refrigerate the turkey, uncovered.

  • 4 Hours Ahead: Take the turkey out of the fridge. Let it come to room temperature.

See all our

Thanksgiving recipes for planners and procrastinators here