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Turkey Rub

This turkey rub contains the perfect blend of herbs and spices to help you cook up a moist, delicious turkey with a beautiful color.
4.50 from 2 votes
spoonful of turkey rub with lemon, garlic, thyme

By Christie Vanover | Published May 2, 2022 | Last Updated June 13, 2022

spoonful of turkey rub

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row of spice bottles with bowl of turkey rub ingredients

Ingredients for Turkey Rub

When developing this turkey rub, I created a balanced blend that accentuates the natural deliciousness of 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.

For my spice blend, I always pull from my pantry of Spiceology blends. Their periodic table of flavor includes herbs and spices are fresh because they’re ground in small batches. I like them so much, I trusted them to bottle my own rubs

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. 

turkey rub applied to turkey

How to apply turkey rub

Before applying turkey rub, be sure your 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, pat the turkey dry with a paper towel. This will help reduce moisture in the skin, 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. 

Try to rub the mustard all over the breasts, 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. 

spoonful of turkey rub

Make extra turkey rub and store it

This recipe makes 1/2 cup of rub, which is enough to rub a 20-pound turkey. 

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.

smoked turkey on pan on grill

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. 

Other foods that taste great seasoned with turkey rub

Although this rub is for turkey, it goes great on all poultry. It’s also delicious on vegetables like grilled yellow squash and on grilled fish, like halibut and sea bass. 

bottles of rubs on black background
spoonful of turkey rub with lemon, garlic, thyme

Turkey Rub

This turkey rub contains the perfect blend of herbs and spices to help you cook up a moist, delicious turkey with a beautiful color.
4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 32 tsp


  • 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 recipe makes 1/2 cup of rub.


Calories: 3kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 437mgPotassium: 17mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 112IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg
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