How to Salt a Turkey
Salting poultry in advance is one way to season the meat and keep it juicy. When salt is applied to raw poultry, juices inside are drawn to the surface. The salt then dissolves in the exuded liquid, forming a brine that is eventually reabsorbed by the poultry. The salt changes the structure of the muscle proteins, allowing them to hold on to more of their own natural juices. Salting requires time, but it won’t thwart the goal of crispy skin. We prefer to use kosher salt for salting because it’s easier to distribute the salt evenly.
How to salt a whole turkey
- Time: 24 to 48 hours
- Kosher salt: 1 teaspoon per pound
- Method: Apply salt evenly inside cavity and under skin of breasts and legs, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and let rest in refrigerator.
How to salt a boneless or bone-in turkey breast
- Time: At least 6 hours or up to 24 hours
- Kosher salt: 3/4 teaspoon per pound
- Method: Apply salt evenly between skin and meat, leaving skin attached, and let rest in refrigerator on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. (Wrap with plastic wrap if salting for longer than 12 hours.)
We use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; if using Morton Kosher Salt, reduce the amounts listed by 33 percent (e.g. use 2/3 teaspoon Morton Kosher Salt in place of 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal).