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Smoked Turkey Rub

To make this smoked turkey rub recipe, you’ll just have to combine the ingredients, shake things up, and season the bird. It’s as easy as that!

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Smoked turkey rub recipe

I love turkey. Well, I should say I love food instead and it’d be more accurate.

Some time ago, I was determined to make the best turkey ever. I tried different cooking method alternatives, used wood chips, table salt, a pellet grill, wrote down recipe card options, etc.

Eventually, I did it. Now I’m sharing it with you.

Smoked Turkey Rub

If you have a few handy ingredients at home and love turkey, you may wonder how you can experiment and make the best meals.

A smoked turkey rub recipe is a straightforward alternative, so get your bird ready to go because once you’re done with it, you won’t be able to have enough – it’s delicious!

Preparing a fantastic turkey breast or whole turkey is a challenging task for some, but I’ll tell you my secret: you need to have a delicious rub to make it work.

The key to preparing the best smoked turkey is to have a dry rub that will make people’s mouths explode with flavors.

As if this wasn’t enough to get you started, working on a homemade smoked turkey rub will also allow you to know what to do in case you want to try it out when you’re preparing chicken, beef, pork, or seafood.

You’ll also feel confident and motivated to try other turkey recipes. Thus, making a dry rub can only bring benefits to your life!

Cayenne pepper in dish

Which One Is Better – Dry or Wet Brine Turkey?

I’ve tried both ways, so it primarily depends on which one you enjoy the most. The main advantage of making a dry rub is that you won’t have to use any water.

Instead, you’ll just need to spray olive oil, rub your whole turkey with the mixture, and you’re done. It’ll take no more than 15 minutes of your time.

However, I understand that everyone likes different things.

Some people prefer the moistness of a wet brine turkey breast, so what you choose is entirely up to you. I’ll just tell you the way I like it better and you can pick what to do!

Should You Brine Your Turkey?

You don’t necessarily have to brine your turkey before making the dry rub, but it will make your bird extra flavorful and very juicy.

If you want to brine it, you should remember that you don’t have to go out of your way. Grab some kosher salt the night before, rub it all over your turkey, and leave it there.

Some people use Old Bay seasoning instead of salt, but you can make the call.

I personally prefer switching depending on what I’m craving because both options are delicious!

Whole turkey in oven

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Firstly, to make this smoked turkey rub, you’ll just have to combine the ingredients (these include garlic powder, brown sugar, onion powder, and more!), shake things up, and season the bird. That’s it! It’s a very straightforward recipe.

To make my smoked turkey rub recipe, you’ll have to use the best, most delicious dry herbs in your poultry.

Therefore, the result will be so flavorful you won’t have enough of it!

You’ll be able to combine the vibrant flavors of smoked paprika and garlic powder in a Traeger wood pellet grill, and you’ll learn to make a dry brine that everyone will love.

In addition, you can adapt this recipe to different dietary requirements if you need to. Thus, don’t fret if you’re gluten-intolerant or can’t eat brown sugar. There are options for you!

Lastly, my seasoning will be ready in just a few minutes, so you can enjoy this turkey dry rub sooner than you think!

Some Notes on the Ingredients

If you want to get the best result from all turkey rub recipes, I recommend you use fresh herbs, regardless of the dish you try to make.

Generally, stores will have a bulk section where you can find black pepper, chili powder, spices, herbs, smoked paprika, and other ingredients at a lower price.

To save some money, you can check out this area and see if you can get better deals.

Adaptations for Different Diets

You can swap the brown sugar for golden monk fruit, coconut sugar, or erythritol if you’re on a sugar-free diet. The same applies if you’re following keto or low-carb plans.

Some Tips You Should Consider

You can add garlic butter if you prefer a garlic butter rub instead of a plain one. I am the president of the garlic fan club, so I’d tell you to give it a go if you love it as well.

Make sure you check the smoker’s temperature when you’re making your turkey because you’ll want to make the most out of your dry brine.

You can add salt and pepper to taste, but don’t use too much black pepper if you’re also adding chili powder. The spice may be too much!

Get some paper towels and use them to get rid of any excess turkey seasoning or dry rub. You won’t want some parts of your bird to be more flavorful than others. Instead, you should try to make your entire dish delicious!

If you want, you can completely forget about the herbs and spices I mentioned and make a Cajun turkey rub by adding Cajun seasoning. This will also work wonders if you’re making pork rubs or if you love flavorful turkey skin.

Any turkey rub recipe will come in handy if you’re making beef, seafood, or pork rub. You only need to choose your favorite ingredients and try them out!

Seasonings on table

Commonly Asked Questions

What Spices Should You Use in the Turkey?

Thyme is my favorite, but there are no rules. It’s your dry rub, so you can choose the herbs and spices you want.

If you enjoy the smokiness of a smoked turkey, you can try cumin, paprika, or chili powder. Adding oregano, sage, and rosemary is also common.

While some people prefer a garlic butter rub, others go for a simple dry rub they can store and use whenever they’re making a delicious Masterbuilt smoked turkey. It’s up to you!

How Long Will the Homemade Rub Last?

If you store this smoked turkey rub in a sealed container, it can last up to three years. However, keep in mind that the flavors will lessen with time.

Do You Need to Add Some Rub to the Turkey Before Smoking?

I encourage you to season your bird before smoking it since it will make the result full of vibrant flavors.

This is what the smoked turkey rub is for! Take advantage of it and put it all over!

Should You Cover the Turkey When Cooking it?

It depends on how your bird is doing, which, in turn, may be different for each person who tries out this smoked turkey rub recipe.

In other words, depending on how much dry rub you use on your smoked turkey, some parts may get brown quicker than others.

When this occurs, covering it with a foil tent is not a bad idea. You won’t want some bits of your smoked turkey to be overdone while others are behind.

To be 100% sure, you’ll need to check the inner temperature of your smoked turkey.

Use the thermometer and see if the thigh’s temp is 165F. Then, do the same with the breast meat – it should be 155F.

You can just put some loose foil over the parts that are browner to help the others catch up, so don’t worry.

How Long Should You Cook a 16-pound Turkey?

The best rule to follow when cooking a smoked turkey is that it’ll take 13 minutes per pound. Therefore, for a 16-pound turkey, you’ll need around three and a half hours. Some people even choose to cook an overnight turkey.

Can You Add Brown Sugar?

Yes! As you can see, I often add some brown sugar to my turkey dry rub. I also adore onion powder.

Sugar is a fantastic addition to a turkey dry rub because it adds a touch of sweetness and helps balance out all the other flavors.

Can You Season Turkey the Night Before?

You can definitely add this turkey seasoning the night before, and you’ll get the most flavorful meat you’ve ever tasted, especially if you’re using ingredients like cayenne pepper.

However, you don’t necessarily need to season the entire turkey the night before. This is only convenient if you want to make the flavors more intense.

Food thermometer in turkey

Some Side Dishes that Go Well with Turkey

If you’re making a Thanksgiving turkey or a holiday turkey, you’ll probably want other recipes to go along with it.

Mashed potatoes and cream corn casserole are two famous options. These also go well with pork ribs and even if you’re just reheating your remaining turkey legs in the air fryer.

Easy dinner rolls, corn, bread, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and cream spinach are also fantastic alternatives.

Two Other Options

If you’re like me, you’re not tired at all and you probably want more turkey recipes to try out at home.

The best aspect of all these options is that the nutrition calories are ideal for anyone on a diet. If you’re on specific dietary plans, you can always switch the ingredients I already mentioned.

However, overall, anyone can enjoy these turkey seasoning options. Thus, get your meat thermometer, find the freshest ingredients, and make sure you have some paper towels nearby. Let’s go!

Herby Smoked Turkey Rub Recipe

In this case, you’ll not only get a smokey flavor but also an explosion of bbq flavors.

To make this turkey dry rub, you’ll need paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar, but also celery salt, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

It’s the traditional poultry seasoning combined with delicious bbq flavors. Thus, it works wonderfully if you’re using it on turkey, pork, beef, or even chicken.

The Simon and Garfunkel Recipe

Inspired by the duo, this turkey seasoning includes rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage. It requires no salt, so you should consider dry brining your bird.

Many people enjoy adding some spiciness to this spice mix. Thus, you could incorporate cayenne or chipotle flakes.

Fun fact: you won’t have to ground Simon and Garfunkel to make your turkey. However, listening to Mrs. Robinson while tasting the crispy skin of your bird is not something I’m opposed to.

Roasted turkey in pan

When You Should Cook this Fabulous Dish

Using the rub on your turkey is immensely straightforward. You’ll only have to pat dry the bird to make the ingredients adhere to the skin. Preferably, you may want to use paper towels for this.

Although some people make their birds in an air fryer, the best alternative is to always put them in an electric smoker.

You’ll get an amazing flavor and your turkey will be the center of attention of your holiday feast.

You can make this recipe whenever you want, but it’s the perfect addition to your holidays. Switch it up depending on the date and what you prefer, and you’ll love the result you get!

What’s Next

If you’re ready to get on cook mode, get your dried herbs, an airtight jar, a paper towel, and some table salt, and start brining your bird.

Make my recipe and you won’t regret it – and neither will anyone who tries it!

Yield: 13 servings

Smoked Turkey Rub

Smoked Turkey Rub

To make this smoked turkey rub recipe, you'll just have to combine the ingredients, shake things up, and season the bird. It’s as easy as that!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 6 oz. Old Bay Seasoning
  • kosher salt or sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Brown sugar
  • Chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp. garlic butter (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil (optional)


  1. Add the ingredients to a bowl and mix until all the ingredients are perfectly combined.


If you're smoking your bird, the best turkey rub recipes (including this one!) recommend that you use a tablespoon of olive oil per each tablespoon of rub

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 3427mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

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