Turkey Dry Rub

Every Thanksgiving turkey needs a rub—and this turkey rub is simple and packed with flavor. The salt and the sugar act to both flavor the meat and draw out moisture from the skin of the bird to create a crispy brown crust that is just as delicious as it is beautiful at the center of the Thanksgiving table. Because the black pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder are mixed in with the salt and sugar, the spices are able to penetrate into the meat of the bird and flavor the juices in the meat as it cooks. Garlic powder is an essential spice because its pungent flavor complements and enhances the succulent taste of roasted poultry with an earthy depth of flavor. The smoked paprika is a bright red spice that lends the flavor of food cooked over an open flame, and this smokiness adds interest to meat roasted in the oven. The blend of these two spices with the spiciness of black pepper prevent the meat of your precious holiday bird from being bland.To ensure that the meat absorbs as much of the turkey rub's flavor as possible, thaw your turkey two days before Thanksgiving, and then rub it evenly with this rub mixture the day before Thanksgiving. Leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This time and the dryness of the refrigerator draw out the moisture in the turkey and infuse it with the flavor of the spices before being reabsorbed by the bird. This is a foolproof step for a flavorful turkey with crisp skin.

Smoked Turkey & Turkey Dry Rub
Photo: Alison Miksch
Hands On Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
Makes about 1/3 cup


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Stir together kosher salt, brown sugar, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder together in a small bowl.

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