This homemade citrus-rosemary turkey rub offers a bright and fresh flavor to the turkey. The beauty of this versatile turkey rub is that it works for several cooking methods, including grilling, rotisserie, and baking. Our recipe makes enough for one 16-18 pound bird. Reduce the recipe by half for smaller turkeys or turkey breast.
Hands down, this is one of my favorite rubs to slather on rotisserie turkey. If you’ve wanted to try rotisserie drip pan potatoes, the buttery goodness of this savory citrus-rosemary turkey rub will add amazing flavor! Use this rub with our Garlic Butter Turkey injection marinade for a hit of buttery pungent flavor or our Garlic-Lemon Turkey Injection for a pungent citrus flavor base.
Why use a butter rub on turkey?
Butter does several things. It imparts a delicious creamy flavor and provides extra moisture to the turkey as it cooks. These rubs are typically made of ingredients like fresh herbs, spices, and citrus to maximize potential. Finally, butter encourages the turkey skin to form a golden brown color. The best way to infuse your turkey with butter is to apply it under the breast skin and all over the bird’s surface.
- Unsalted butter
- Lemon zest (always zest the lemon first before juicing it!)
- Lemon juice
- Fresh rosemary
- Fresh thyme
- Onion powder
- Kosher salt (omit if planning to brine the turkey)
- Garlic powder (sub with
- Black pepper
How to make Citrus-Rosemary Turkey Rub:
- IMPORTANT: Remember to omit the salt if you have wet brined the turkey!
- Combine room temperature unsalted butter with lemon juice and lemon zest. Add remaining ingredients and mix through.
- Apply 1/3 of the turkey rub under the breast skin, coating the meat well. Apply the remaining 2/3 of the rub on the skin and inside the cavity of the turkey.
- Cook as directed.
- Discard any remaining rub that has come into contact with raw meat.
- Save time, make this citrus-rosemary turkey rub ahead of time, and store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let it soften for 1 hour at room temperature before using.
- Use room temperature unsalted butter for this recipe. Do not microwave the butter, but simply leave it on your counter for 60-90 minutes to soften.
- If you plan to wet or dry brine your turkey, do not add salt to the this rub mixture.
- Pair this rub with a turkey injection marinade to flavor the turkey from inside out.
- Don’t have rosemary on hand? No problem. Substitute with finely chopped sage or thyme.
Citrus-Rosemary Turkey Rub
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature (softened, not melted)
- zest of 1 large lemon
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt omit if wet brining
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- As mentioned above, if you plan on wet brining the turkey, omit the salt from this recipe.
- Combine softened unsalted butter with lemon juice and lemon zest. Add remaining ingredients and mix through.
- Apply 1/3 of the mixture under the breast skin, coating the meat really well. Apply the remaining 2/3 of the rub on the skin and inside the cavity of the turkey.
- Cook as directed.