Smoked Turkey Rub

Use this smoked turkey rub to impart a savory bbq flavor to any poultry dish.
smoked turkey rub

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This bbq turkey rub is super easy to make and is perfectly balanced to complement the flavor of smoked turkey.

Traditional flavors and herbs with a little BBQ kick make this our favorite rub for turkey.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right balance to suit everyone, but this dry rub pretty much nails.

The best turkey rub

This is a great base rub for smoking turkey that can be adjusted to your tastes and also can be used on other proteins.

It’s a mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, mustard powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.

You can use it on a whole turkey, or any poultry.

Here are a few tips on how to tweak it:

  • This rub is perfect for turkey and chicken alike. If you wish to use it on pork, double the paprika and sugar quantities and add a little chili to taste. I recommend starting with a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne at first.
  • Don’t use salt if you’ve already brined your turkey.
  • Alternatively, if you feel it is lacking the ‘kick you in the pants’ type heat that you like, you can add some chili into it. I do stress starting small and building up. A little goes a long way when using chili.
  • If you find there’s too much of a smokey flavor, you can use normal paprika, or to give a slightly sweeter taste, go the sweet paprika.
  • If you want to use this on beef, remove the sugar and double the salt and pepper amounts used and half the paprika and you’ll be good to go.

Using the rub

For a 12lb whole turkey, I recommend using 3-4 tbsp of the dry rub. I don’t typically measure out the rub though, just apply an even coating.

I think the most common mistake for people new to smoking, and also some who have been doing it for a while, is they actually rub on their dry rubs.

bowl of rub and white plate with raw turkey breast on it

Don’t do it. A dry rub should be evenly sprinkled from a distance of around 12″ above the protein to get a uniform and even coverage over the meat.

Make sure you shake the rub up before each use and you’ll get the same taste every time.

raw turkey breast coated in rub on a white plate
Allow the rub to sit on the meat for at least 30 minutes to start activating with the outer part of your protein.

In reality, you should remove the meat from your fridge, trim it if needed and apply the rub while it is cold.

It’s a good practice to leave the meat out for a while so the rub can start drawing moisture from the protein’s outermost layer to help bind the rub to it.

You can also lift the skin and spread some rub under the skin to get even more flavor.


For storage purposes, I tend to transfer any remaining rub into an airtight container as the sugar content generally cakes up, and the whole rub turns into a spice brick, you can loosen this up with a fork but by storing it correctly, you eliminate the needs to loosen it the next time you need it.

Recipes to use this turkey rub on

smoked turkey rub

Smoked Turkey Rub

A super easy rub to make, perfectly balanced to compliment the flavor of smoked turkey
4.99 from 53 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment / Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 turkey breast
Calories: 345kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger


  • 4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp  salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp black pepper finely ground
  • 1 tbsp Thyme dried
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary dried
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder


  • Mix all ingredients well.
  • Coat the meat evenly.
  • Allow the rub to activate on the meat for at least 30 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight jar.


Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 20973mg | Potassium: 1128mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 14254IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 266mg | Iron: 11mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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