By Christie Vanover | Published May 2, 2022 | Last Updated August 10, 2022
When developing this turkey rub recipe, I created a balanced blend that accentuates the natural deliciousness of smoked turkey without creating a dominate flavor profile.
This way, after your turkey is smoked, you have the freedom to season the cooked meat with other seasonings or sauces without conflicting with the original rub. It’s great on whole turkey, turkey breast and even chicken.
The Girls Can Grill Turkey Rub includes kosher salt, lemon pepper, granulated garlic, smoked paprika and dried thyme.
I use lemon pepper instead of plain black pepper, because I love the citrus notes and how well they go with turkey. The Spiceology Lemon Pepper also includes a bit of turmeric, which helps create a golden color when combined with the paprika.
For my spice blend, I always pull from my pantry of Spiceology blends. Their periodic table of flavor includes herbs and spices that are fresh because they’re ground in small batches. I like them so much, I trusted them to bottle my own rubs.
How to blend spices
All you need is a small bowl and a fork or spoon. Combine all of the ingredients and mix them around.
You can also place them in a small mason jar, add the lid and give it a good shake.
That’s all there is to it. Once you make your rub, you’re ready to make a Thanksgiving turkey that will blow everyone away.
How to Apply Turkey Seasoning
Before applying turkey rub, be sure your frozen turkey is fully thawed; and for really juicy turkey, brine it in a simple salt sugar water solution. You can find my thawing tips and turkey brine recipe on this site.
After those steps, place turkey on a large pan and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. This will help reduce moisture in the skin of the turkey, so it will be crispier.
Then, use a binder to help the the rub stick. Some people like to use melted butter or olive oil, but I prefer yellow mustard. I find the problem with melted butter is that once it touches the cold turkey, it starts to harden, making it hard to spread.
If cooking a whole bird, try to rub the mustard all over the breast side, legs and wings, working your way into the joints. You don’t have to worry as much about the underside. There is very little meat down there, and it will absorb plenty of flavor when it cooks.
Next, generously sprinkle on your turkey rub, trying to cover the mustard. A 20-pound turkey will take about 1/4 cup of turkey rub.
You can smoke your turkey right away, or you can refrigerate it and allow it to dry brine for 4-8 hours. This is a great technique for juicier breast meat.
Make extra rub and store it
This recipe makes 1/2 cup of rub, which is enough to rub two 20-pound turkeys.
I like to make 2-3 batches and store it in airtight jars. It will last in your pantry for a good six months.
To label it, I just cut a circle out of a paper bag and place it under the lid rim. Then, I write the rub name on it. So simple. Add a ribbon around it, and voilà, you’ve got a perfect gift.
The picture above is from my smoked pulled turkey recipe. You can see the beautiful color and crispy skin. That’s thanks to the lemon pepper and paprika.
The little morsels of thyme combined with the garlic and salt make every bite so savory and mouthwatering.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Be sure you pat your turkey dry with paper towels. If there is water moisture, the rub will not spread evenly. I like rubbing my turkey with mustard as a binder and then sprinkling on the rub. You can also use olive oil. I prefer not to use butter, because it will harden and create odd clumps when applied to a cold turkey.
You can start by soaking your turkey in a wet brine or applying this rub and dry brining it. Then, you’re ready to grill it. Follow my easy step-by-step recipe for grilling a turkey on a charcoal grill.
No. This is a very balanced rub with amazing flavor. If you want to add heat, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. If you want to make a Cajun turkey rub, add 1 teaspoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning.
Smoked Turkey Rub
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp lemon pepper
- 2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator