What Salt-Roasting Will Do To Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Are you responsible for preparing the turkey this Thanksgiving? If so, you might be drowning in the sea of possibilities for how to cook it. Each year, it seems like a particular method is recommended, from basic roasting to smoking the turkey on the grill to deep-frying the bird in a vat of hot oil. But we're willing to bet you've never salt-roasted a turkey, and it's one method you might want to try in order to delight your guests with a moist, flavorful bird.

So what is salt-roasting, exactly? You may have seen this method used to bake whole fish, which can tend to be lean and dry out in the oven. According to Kitchn, a salt crust, typically made using a mix of coarse salt and egg whites or water, encases the fish in a nearly airtight crust, trapping moisture in the flesh as well as adding plenty of seasoning. And according to Food & Wine, this method is equally apt for cooking your Thanksgiving bird.

Salt-roasting yields a juicy, well-seasoned turkey

According to Food & Wine, a salt crust works as both a tool and an ingredient for roasting your Thanksgiving turkey. In addition to the coarse salt-and-egg white combination locking in moisture and yielding a juicy result, as the turkey cooks inside a dome of salt, it basically brines — without having to soak the bird in anything first. That means the meat will come out nicely seasoned, too.

Plus, salt-roasting offers another benefit: it will keep the turkey inside warm for up to 30 minutes. On a day when the oven is in high demand, this frees up space for the side dishes and desserts that need their time in the heat, too. Plus, what could be more fun than bringing an igloo-domed turkey to your table and letting your guests crack into crust, setting free all that aromatic steam inside?

But in order to get the most out of the coarse salt crust, Cooks Illustrated recommends that you coat the turkey in the mixture a whole 24-48 hours before taking it out of the fridge to cook. As for the actual cooking portion, Food & Wine suggests using a butterflied turkey breast: the bird goes into a salt-filled cast iron pan, gets mounded with the salt crust mixture, roasts for about an hour and a half, and rests for 15 minutes before carving. Yielding six servings, it's the perfect choice for a smaller Thanksgiving gathering.