Spice-Rubbed Turkey


A simple turkey rub of salt, sage, pepper and paprika produces a bird with crisp, golden-brown skin and incredibly moist and tender breast meat. Plus: Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide 

Spice-Rubbed Turkey
Photo: © Gentl & Hyers


  • 1/4 cup kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled dried sage leaves

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • One 18- to 20-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry

  • 5 cups of Rye Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Apples and Bacon

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons melted

  • 2 small onions, coarsely chopped

  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped

  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped

  • 3 cups water

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 quart Rich Turkey Stock, chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a small bowl, combine the kosher salt with the sage, black pepper, paprika and sugar. Set the turkey in a large roasting pan and rub it with the spice mixture inside and out; refrigerate for at least 12 hours or for up to 24 hours. Return the turkey to room temperature before roasting.

  2. Preheat the oven to 475°. Stuff the turkey body cavity and the skin flap at the top of the breast with the Rye Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Apples and Bacon, packing it loosely. Brush the turkey all over with the melted butter and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown.

  3. Scatter the onions, celery and carrots around the turkey, add the water to the pan and cover the breast loosely with foil. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and roast the turkey for about 3 1/2 hours longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°; remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of roasting. Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Pour the pan juices into a medium saucepan and skim the fat from the surface. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners and cook the vegetables over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are coated with the flour mixture and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of the Rich Turkey Stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the gravy is slightly thickened.

  5. Strain the gravy into the pan juices in the saucepan, pressing on the vegetables; discard the vegetables. Add the remaining turkey stock to the gravy and cook over moderate heat until thickened and reduced to 4 cups, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large gravy boat. Carve the turkey, arrange on a platter and serve with the stuffing and gravy.

Suggested Pairing

For a red, choose an intense, fruity-earthy Pinot Noir from Napa Valley.

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