Jim Dolson's Turkey Rub Recipe

cooked whole turkey
A spice rub adds lots of flavor to the turkey. Erik Rank/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Total Time 10 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 0 min
Yield Rub for 1 Medium or Large Turkey

As far as I know, my father-in-law developed this easy 5-ingredient recipe for a turkey rub long ago.

My husband grew up having turkey made with this rub, and now I get to have it every Thanksgiving!

Measurements are approximate -- my husband doesn't measure and I had to stand beside him measuring everything he did. This amount will coat a medium to large turkey.

One thing I love about it is how the meat flavors the leftovers in recipes like yummy Low Carb Turkey a la KingLow-Carb Turkey Tetrazinni, or Low-Carb Turkey Soup.


  • 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning such as Bell's seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning like Bell's seasoning, 1 tablespon sage, 1 table sinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon cloves, until thoroughly combined.
  2. After cleaning a medium to large turkey, pat it dry and rub the entire mix on the bird, both inside and out, and under the skin before roasting.
  3. For best flavor, mix up this rub right before using it but, if you plan to roast another turkey within the next few days, you can make a double batch of rub and keep it in an airtight jar away from the heat.

    What's the Purpose of a Rub?

    A good rub adds layers of flavor to help make the most of your turkey.

    It can be made from dried spices, fresh herbs and the zest of citrus fruit. What remains important is to apply these flavors where they count -- under the skin -- as well as to the outside and inside of the bird.

    Starting where the leg connects to the body, slip your hand under the skin and loosen it as much as you can around the breast and body of the turkey.

    Push your rub into this space and spread it out evenly. Work the rub into as many meaty areas as possible, as well as the body cavity. As the moisture from the bird mixes with the rub it will steam the inside with flavor.

    Note: If you want to baste the bird later, set aside a tablespoon or so of the rub.

    Basting the Turkey with the Rub

    Wait until the last hour of the cooking time to begin basting. Mix the reserved tablespoon or so of the rub with 1 tablespoon melted fat-free butter substitute such as Butter Buds and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

     Apply the baste onto every inch of the surface of the turkey, including the insides if it's not stuffed.

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