The Best Turkey Rub Recipes

Add Layers of Flavor to Your Holiday Bird

roast turkey recipe
Brett Stevens/ Getty Images

Seasoning rubs add deep flavors and a savory taste to any type of meat, and turkey definitely benefits from this type of flavoring treatment. A good rub adds layers of flavor, as well as beautiful color to the skin. From fresh herbs to Cajun spice, any of these six rubs will turn your turkey from ordinary into extraordinary.

Seasoning rubs can be either wet or dry—dry rubs are made up of powdered spices and dry herbs, while wet includes liquids such as oil, wine, or vinegar. When using a rub,...MORE remember to get the mix under the skin and inside the turkey. To do this, gently place your hand between the breast skin and meat and work the skin away from the meat with your fingers being careful not to tear the skin. Then massage the rub onto the meat going as far back as possible. This will season the breast meat perfectly. 

  • 01 of 06
    Herb Turkey Rub ingredients
    Claire Cohen

    This is a great rub for turkey any way you plan to cook it. It is a wet rub, including olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, white wine, and balsamic vinegar, all of which add rich flavor to the meat. The herbs featured are rosemary, thyme, and sage—it is best that you use fresh rosemary because you want the oils from the rosemary to season the turkey.

  • 02 of 06
    Deep fried turkey rub
    Claire Cohen

    Even though deep-frying a turkey creates delicious flavor on its own, adding a rub the day before will create a bird that your guests won't be able to get enough of. This recipe calls for 20 bay leaves, which is about 1/3 cup. The real secret to fried turkey is to get the rub well on the surface of the turkey before it hits the oil.

  • 03 of 06
    Spices for spicy poultry rub
    Claire Cohen

    Although perfect for turkey, this spicy rub is also a great all-purpose poultry rub (try it on chicken wings!). The recipe calls for paprika—use Hungarian if you can find it because its flavor is deeper and sweeter than regular paprika.

  • 04 of 06
    Carjun Turkey Seasoning ingredients
    Claire Cohen

    This basic poultry rub's heat can be adjusted to your liking—the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (which is just enough to get your attention but not to bring tears to your eyes), but feel free to add or subtract to taste. Perfect to use when grilling or smoking the bird. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    spices for jerk turkey rub
    Claire Cohen

    Jerk seasoning originated in Jamaica and brings a bit of the Caribbean to any dinner table. The combination of sweet (brown and white sugars) and savory (garlic and onion powders) in this rub makes for an interesting turkey—add the optional cayenne pepper to give it a kick. 

  • 06 of 06
    spices in jars
    Rachel Husband/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

    This recipe for dry rub comes from barbecue legend Mike Mills. The combination of paprika, sugar, dry mustard, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne turns any turkey from bland to bam! Like magic! The mixture can be stored in a tightly covered jar for up to one year, and the rub is also great for seafood and red meat.