This homemade turkey dry rub is the perfect combination of herbs, spices, salt, and sugar to season a whole turkey or spice up a weeknight meal. Don’t be intimidated by making a whole turkey thought, because this recipe for turkey rub works every bit as well on turkey breasts, wings, or legs.

Be sure you keep this turkey dry rub recipe as a staple in your kitchen. On busy days you can make a quick main dish by seasoning chicken or turkey breasts, drumsticks, thighs, and wings.

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savory turkey dry rub in a jar with fresh sage and rosemary near the jar

What Is A Dry Rub?

Simply put, a dry rub is a combination of herbs, spices, salt, and sugar. Usually, dry rubs are used on meats like chicken or pork. Dry rubs are used to season meat and infuse flavor into it, and the salt in the rub also helps the meat to stay moist as it cooks. They are a simple way to add a lot of flavor to all kinds of meats and side dishes.

Why Dry Rub A Turkey vs Brining

Using a dry rub achieves similar flavor results to brining. Brining involves soaking the meat in a saltwater solution to tenderize the meat and make it extra fall-off-the-bone tender. Brining works well for smaller cuts of meat, but brining a whole turkey can be complicated and messy. 

Using a dry rub to season a whole turkey is much simpler and cleaner than using a wet brine, giving the turkey a more complex flavor. 

If you enjoy making your own seasoning blends, be sure to try this Thai spice blend. I like to use it on grilled chicken. My coffee dry rub is great for pork and steaks, especially if you use your grill. The coffee flavor really compliments the smokiness from the grill. And if you love tacos, this all-purpose Mexican spice blend is the perfect way to infuse your favorite Mexican flavors into all your recipes. 

Making this turkey recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? You can’t go wrong serving this with a sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and other classic sides. Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving sides you can make ahead.

Why I Always Keep This Turkey Rub In My Spice Drawer 

  • Turkey dry rub is an excellent way to spice up your standard Thanksgiving turkey, but it’s also great for adding flavor to weeknight dinners. It has a long shelf life, so you can always have some around when the mood strikes to make a turkey breast recipe for dinner. It’s also great as a seasoning mix-in for ground turkey burgers. 
  • If I need an easy make ahead dinner I use this dry rub recipe on my Slow Cooker Turkey Wings. Turkey and gravy is pure comfort food for a busy or stressful day.
  • I love this dry rub because it’s versatile and simple to make. I usually have all the spices in my cabinet, so it’s a great last-minute seasoning choice.
  • Dry rub (and dry brining) is an easy way to have perfectly seasoned poultry. The skin always turns out crispy and delishous.
  • Kids love this dry rub on drumsticks and bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. 

Turkey Dry Rub Ingredients

To make this easy turkey dry rub recipe, you’ll need a few common herbs, brown sugar, and a spice grinder.

small bowls of turkey dry rub ingredients
  • Salt: I use kosher salt for almost all of my recipes, but you can use whatever salt you have on hand. Salt is the most important aspect of the rub since it seasons the meat, keeps it moist as it cooks, and makes turkey and chicken skin extra-crispy. 
  • Garlic powder: Garlic powder has a mild garlic flavor, but is not as strong as raw garlic.
  • Smoked paprika – Smoked paprika brings a dark color to the meat and a, smoky flavor to the spice rub.
  • Dried thyme – Thyme is a classic herb to pair with turkey, and this rub is no exception. It’s slightly floral, herbal notes are a welcome addition to the dry rub. 
  • Sage and rosemary: These are the classic aromatic herb that fills your kitchen when cooking a classic turkey dinner.
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar offers sweetness and a light caramel note to the dry rub. It also helps the skin of the turkey to get deeply golden brown as it roasts in the oven. 

The complete ingredient list with precise measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. 

How to Make Homemade Turkey Dry Rub Recipe (Step-By-Step)

  1. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, ground sage, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
whole herbs, such as oregano and rosemary in a spice grinder with salt, pepper, brown sugar and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  1. In a small coffee grinder, add the dried thyme, rosemary, sage, and marjoram. Pulse the grinder a few times to finely chop the dried herbs to make a fine powder.
turkey dry rub in a spice grinder and in a small bowl ready to rub on a turkey
  1. Combine the herbs ground in the spice grinder with the other spice powders in the bowl. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  2. Store the spice rub in an airtight container, or use it right away. 

Pro Tip

I like to use a dedicated coffee grinder to grind whole spices. This Mr Coffee Electric Spice Grinder from Amazon is affordable and has a clear lid so you can easily keep an eye on the consistency of your herbs when grinding.

Tips and Helpful Hints

  • This recipe makes enough rub to season a 10 to 12-pound turkey. If your turkey is larger, you should double the recipe to ensure you have enough seasoning for the whole bird. 
  • Use high-quality herbs and spices. Dry herbs and spices lose their flavor as they sit in your cabinet, so check the expiration dates on what you already have so you know what to stock up on. If you’re unsure how long something has been in the cabinet, that’s a good sign it might be time to buy a fresh jar. I like to use a permanent marker to label the lids of my spices with the date I opened them. 
  • You should plan to season your meat at least eight hours before you want to start cooking. This allows enough time for the dry rub to penetrate the meat and dry out the skin fully. 

Turkey Rub Questions

How can I make the dry rub spicy? 

If you like your seasoning blends with a bit of spice, you can include 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, chili flakes, or dried hot peppers like serranos or habaneros. You could also use ground chipotle powder for smoky heat. You could also add a dried ancho or guajillo pepper when you grind your spices.

Can I use a dry rub on a deep-fried turkey?

You sure can! In fact, dry rub is ideal for deep frying turkey because you don’t want to add other liquids, such as a marinade on your turkey’s skin when cooking in hot oil. 

How to Store A Spice Rub

Storage: Store the dry rub in an airtight jar or Tupperware container in your spice drawer or cabinet. Just remember, the longer spices sit, the more flavor they lose, so plan to use the rub within 3 months. 

Make It A Holiday Meal

Making this turkey recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? You can’t go wrong serving this with a sweet potato casserole and creamy dairy-free mashed potatoes. Also, let me help make your Thanksgiving easier with these Make-Ahead Dressing Recipes For Thanksgiving.

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Do you have a question about this recipe❓ I will answer in the comment form below👇🏼 the recipe card. Did you make this recipe? If so, could you be a gem and leave a comment and rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below? This helps others find yummy 😋 recipes to make for their family and friends.

savory turkey dry rub in a jar with fresh sage and rosemary near the jar small spoon for sprinkling rub on meat
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The Perfect Turkey Dry Rub

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 tablespoons
Your turkey will be the star ⭐️ of your meal when you prepare your bird with this easy homemade turkey dry rub recipe. The savory blend of aromatic spices and herbs will create crispy golden skin and juicy bites of tender turkey meat every time.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary, dried
  • 1 teaspoon sage, dried, ground
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, Pink Himalayan salt is also a great option for this rub recipe.

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, ground sage, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  • In a small coffee grinder, add the dried thyme, rosemary, sage, and marjoram. Pulse the grinder a few times to finely chop the dried herbs to make a fine powder.
  • Combine the herbs ground in the spice grinder with the other spice powders in the bowl. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  • Store the spice rub in an airtight container or jar until you are ready to use it.

Notes

How can I make the dry rub spicy? 

If you like your seasoning blends with a bit of heat, you can include 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, chili flakes, or add dried hot peppers like serranos or habaneros to your spice blender. 
Serving: 1g, Calories: 18kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 0.3g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.04g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 583mg, Potassium: 37mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 288IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 0.4mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Seasoning
Author: Gina Dickson

⭐️ One last thing, please leave a rating and comment letting me know how you liked making this recipe. This helps me provide more free, high-quality recipes for everyone.

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