This savory turkey rub will add delicious flavor, whether you plan to roast, fry, or smoke your turkey.
You can rub it dry over the skin or mix it with melted butter or oil and rub it between the meat and under the skin. No matter how you rub it, this will add lots of flavor to what is traditionally a bland protein!
The best part is that it only uses 5 simple ingredients and can be made ahead of time and stored in the pantry. Its main use is for turkey, but don’t be shy about using it for chicken, pork, and seafood!
Turkey Rub Seasonings
For this turkey rub recipe, we are keeping it classic with pantry spices like sage, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
Head to the pantry, spice cabinet or drawer and grab:
- garlic powder
- onion powder
If you prefer a smoky and sweet rub, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to the above seasonings or try my epic dry pork rub recipe.
How to Make Turkey Rub
Measure the spices inside a bowl and use a whisk or fork to combine them well. Transfer the turkey rub inside a spice jar or zip bag and keep it with the other spices for up to 2 months.
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How to Use Turkey Rub
This rub can be used two ways, as a dry rub over the poultry skin or turned into a wet rub with melted butter or oil and slathered between the skin and the meat; below; I show you how to do both.
Note: this recipe yields enough for a 15 to 20-lb turkey, and you’ll want to rinse and pat the turkey dry before coating.
As a Dry Rub
Using your hands, generously distribute the turkey rub all over the turkey, on top of the skin, and some in the cavity. Make sure to rub the top and bottom of the turkey.
This method works best if you want to fry or smoke the turkey. The seasonings stick to the skin and create that delicious crust.
As a Wet Rub
For oven roasted turkeys, the wet rub works great because it infuses the meat and the skin with flavor.
All you have to do is make one recipe of this turkey rub and mix it with ¼ cup melted butter or olive oil to create a paste.
With your hands, lift the skin and separate it from the turkey meat. Using a brush, brush the paste onto the turkey skin. Pour some between the skin and the meat and rub it with your hands.
The fats in the butter help to lock in moisture while adding delicious flavor to both the meat and the drippings!
When to Season a Turkey
Turkey should be seasoned before baking and can be done the night before. Seasoning a turkey helps yield juicy, baked turkey meat with flavorful skin, and isn’t that what we’re all after?
All you have to do is coat the turkey with the spice mix, rub it onto and under the skin, then place the entire bird in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight and bake the next day, as directed.
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More Turkey Rub Seasoning Variations
This turkey rub is a great base recipe, but you can easily switch the paprika and sage for your favorite spices. I would keep the ratios of salt, garlic powder, and onion powder the same, then add other seasonings such as:
- rosemary (1 teaspoon)
- thyme (1 teaspoon)
- oregano (1 teaspoon)
- Italian seasoning (2 teaspoons)
- Herbs de Provence (2 teaspoons)