Brining vs. Dry-Brining: Which Is Better for Turkey?

Happy senior couple decorating turkey on Thanksgiving day.

When it comes to preparing a delicious, juicy turkey for your holiday feast or family dinner, the debate between brining and dry-brining has been a hot topic in the culinary world. Both methods have their merits, but deciding which one is better for your turkey depends on your personal preferences and the time you have available. 

At Hillside Turkey Farms, our team is here to help you make an informed choice for your meal or Thanksgiving centerpiece. Let’s explore the differences between brining and dry-brining and find out which one might be the best fit for your turkey:

What are Brining and Dry-Brining?

Brining is a process that involves submerging the turkey in a solution of water, salt, sugar, and various flavorings for a set period, typically between 12 and 24 hours. The purpose of brining is to impart flavor and moisture to the turkey while also tenderizing the meat. The salt in the brine helps the turkey retain moisture, making it less likely to dry out while cooking your bird.

Dry-brining, on the other hand, is a simpler method that involves rubbing the turkey with a mixture of salt and seasonings and then letting it rest uncovered in the refrigerator for an extended period, usually 12 to 48 hours. During this time, the salt draws moisture out of the turkey, and then the moisture is reabsorbed, along with the flavors of the seasonings.

Flavor Enhancement


  • Brining introduces a wide range of flavors to the turkey. You can experiment with different herbs, spices, and aromatics in your brine to customize the taste to your liking.
  • The turkey will have a more pronounced, evenly distributed flavor.


  • Dry-brining typically imparts a more intense and concentrated flavor to the turkey. The salt and seasonings are in direct contact with the meat.
  • Dry-brining can result in a crispier skin due to the exposed surface of the turkey.

Winner: It depends on your preference. If you want a well-seasoned turkey with a milder flavor, brining is the way to go. For a more intense taste and crispy skin, dry-brining is your best bet.

Moisture Retention


  • Brined turkey tends to be moister because the salt helps the meat retain water.
  • However, it can sometimes be challenging to get perfectly crisp skin with a brined turkey.


  • While dry-brining doesn’t add as much moisture as wet-brining, it still prevents the turkey from drying out, resulting in a moist, flavorful bird.
  • The exposed surface of the turkey from dry-brining can lead to a crisper skin, which is a plus for many.

Winner: Both methods are effective in retaining moisture, but dry-brining has an edge for those who prefer crispy skin.

Convenience and Space


  • Requires a large container or brining bag, along with ample space in your refrigerator for the turkey and brine solution.
  • The process can be a bit more involved, including heating water and dissolving salt and sugar to create the brine.


  • Dry-brining is more convenient and space-saving. All you need is a pan or tray to hold the turkey, and it doesn’t take up as much space in your fridge.
  • There’s no need to deal with a messy liquid solution.

Winner: Dry-brining wins in terms of convenience and space-saving.

Time Considerations


  • Brining takes more time, typically 12 to 24 hours.


  • Dry-brining requires slightly less time, around 12 to 48 hours.

Winner: If you have less time to spare, dry-brining is the quicker option.

Final Verdict

The choice between brining and dry-brining comes down to your personal preferences and the time you have available. If you’re looking for a well-seasoned, moist turkey and don’t mind the extra time and effort, brining is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a turkey with intense flavors, crispy skin, and a more straightforward preparation process, dry-brining is the way to go.

Fresh Turkeys and More in Frederick County, Maryland

Find fresh, delicious turkey and other meats, cheeses, and more at Hillside Turkey Farms. Our family has been in the business in Thurmont, Maryland, since 1939 and proudly provides families with delicious, fresh turkeys all year round. Check out our weekly specials

Place a pre-order for pick-up or delivery (we ship our foods across the continental United States) on our website, or give us a call at 301-271-2728 if you have any questions.