Do you have a roast turkey on the menu for Thanksgiving?
Have you been meaning to put a new spin on it, but aren’t sure what to do?
We’ve got you covered.
The best thing about roast turkey is that it’s so versatile.
You can put just about any kind of seasoning on it and it will taste great!
But there are a few that we think are particularly good for this dish!
What Seasoning to Put on Roast Turkey
When you’re cooking up a roast turkey, you want to make sure you have the right seasoning in place.
Here are some of our favorite seasonings to put on your roast turkey:
1. Cinnamon-Sugar Rub
This is our favorite way to season a roasted turkey, because the flavor profile is so simple and sweet.
It’s also incredibly easy to make—you just combine cinnamon with brown sugar, then rub it all over the skin side of your turkey before roasting!
The result is an incredibly moist interior with a crispy skin that will have everyone coming back for seconds.
2. Pesto Butter
If pesto butter sounds weird, try it before you knock it!
It really does add a lot of flavor to any meat, especially when paired with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (all three ingredients will be used in this recipe).
The best part?
You can make it in advance so when guests arrive at your house for the big day, all you have left to do is pop your bird into the oven!
3. Soy Sauce Marinade
If you want something more savory than sweet, try this soy sauce marinade on your next bird!
It’ll give you a crispy exterior while keeping the meat juicy inside.
Just soak your turkey in soy sauce overnight before roasting it like normal—you won’t regret it!
4. Rosemary & Lemon Rub
This combination infuses subtle floral notes into the meat while enhancing its flavor with lemon zest and rosemary leaves.
You can sprinkle this on top of your turkey about 30 minutes before it goes into the oven, or mix it all together in a bowl beforehand and use it as a rub (like we did here).
5. Lemon-Rosemary Rub
This is another one of our favorite rubs because it adds great flavor without being overpowering—the lemon keeps things fresh while the rosemary adds an earthy note (and if you love rosemary as much as we do, you’ll want to add more than just one sprig!)
6. Citrus & Herb Butter
We love butter, so it only makes sense that we love citrus butter as well!
This mixture combines fresh lemon juice and zest with thyme leaves and garlic powder in order to create an incredibly flavorful coating for your turkey legs or breast meat before roasting them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally (about 1 hour per pound of meat).
7. Lemon Pepper Rub
For a tangy twist on regular salt and pepper, try seasoning your turkey with lemon pepper instead!
Just mix together lemon zest with black pepper until well incorporated, then rub it over both sides of your bird before roasting in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours (or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
8. Chili Rub
The key with this rub is balance—you want just enough heat to give the bird a kick without overpowering its natural flavor or making it too spicy (and therefore not as appealing) for guests at your holiday table who may not be accustomed to eating spicy foods.
9. Olive Oil + Italian Seasoning Rub
This rub combines two simple ingredients—olive oil and Italian seasoning—to create a richly flavored rub that will really bring out the best in your bird.
Just drizzle olive oil all over the skin side of the turkey (don’t worry if it runs off), then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper before roasting!
10. Curry Powder + Coconut Milk Rub
This is another great option if you want something with a little more oomph than just plain old cinnamon and brown sugar!
The combination of curry powder and coconut milk creates a rich and creamy rub that really packs in the flavor where other rubs might fall short.
Plus, this stuff smells amazing while it cooks—so much so that some people have even been known to make their own curry-infused gravy instead of using store-bought gravy packets!
11. Butter + Garlic Rub
This is another simple recipe that adds a delicious flavor profile without being too overpowering or complicated.
Simply melt butter in a small pan on your stovetop, then add in minced garlic and cook it until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
Let cool slightly before brushing over the outside of your turkey before roasting—the result will be a super-moist interior with crispy skin!
12. Soy Sauce + Honey Glaze (Dry)
If you’re looking for something more savory than sweet, try this delicious soy sauce glaze!
Just combine soy sauce with honey until it reaches your desired consistency (we like ours thick), then brush it evenly onto the skin side of your turkey before roasting in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 160°F (check the temperature in the thigh area).
A juicy interior with a crispy skin that will make everyone want more!
13. Lemon & Thyme Rub
This recipe uses lemon zest and thyme as its base ingredients, which gives the bird a bright flavor that perfectly complements any traditional Thanksgiving sides like stuffing or mashed potatoes.
It’s also super simple—just rub some lemon zest into butter and then add thyme leaves before rubbing them all over the turkey before roasting!
14. Smoky Paprika Rub
If you like things on the spicy side, try this smoky paprika rub instead!
It’s made up of ground paprika, cumin seeds, brown sugar, salt and pepper, which makes it great for adding flavor without overpowering the meat itself.
15. Ginger & Sesame Rub
If you’re looking for something more savory than sweet, this rub is for you!
It combines ground ginger (a little goes a long way) with sesame seeds and black pepper for an earthy yet spicy flavor that pairs perfectly with roasted turkey and mashed potatoes.
16. Honey-Orange Glaze (with a little kick!)
This glaze recipe has all the sweetness of a classic honey-glazed turkey, but with a little bit of heat from the cayenne pepper that gives the dish its “kick.
To make it, combine equal parts honey and orange juice with about one teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and salt in a bowl until well combined; then brush it onto your bird as it cooks in the oven.
17. Maple-Mustard Glaze (sweet and savory)
This glaze pairs so well with turkey because it’s both sweet and savory—it gives the meat a nice tangy flavor while still allowing it to retain its natural sweetness.
As an added bonus, you can use any leftover glaze on your mashed potatoes (or anything else) post-turkey feast!
18. Chipotle-Honey Glaze (spicy!)
We love the combination of sweet and spicy in this recipe, but if you’re not into spice don’t worry—you can make it without chipotles or add more honey if you want it sweeter!
19. Brown Sugar & Bourbon Glaze (for the bourbon lovers)
This glaze is super easy to make at home—you just combine brown sugar with some bourbon (or whiskey), then brush it onto the top of your cooked turkey before serving!
The result is a tender interior and crispy skin that will have everyone asking for more.
20. Mediterranean Rub
This Mediterranean-inspired seasoning is perfect if you want something more exotic than traditional Thanksgiving flavors (but not too exotic!).
It combines lemon zest with basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper for that classic Mediterranean flavor profile we all love so much.
21. Chipotle Bacon Rub (savory)
Here’s another savory option that is sure to please both kids and adults alike.
It combines smoked paprika with chipotle powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper, as well as just a touch of chili powder if you want some extra heat!
22. Chipotle Lime Rub (savory)
This savory rub is perfect for those who like their turkey with a little kick.
Just combine chipotle powder with garlic powder and lime juice, then rub over the entire surface of the bird before roasting at 350 degrees for about 2 hours until an internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your guests will be begging for more!
22. Mustard Glaze
If you prefer something with more zing, try making a mustard glaze by combining brown mustard with honey, apple cider vinegar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until well combined—then pour over the turkey before roasting for about 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
You can also add some thyme or sage if desired!
23. Beer-and-Chili Rub (sweet)
If you’re looking for something more savory—but still sweet—try making a beer-and-chili rub by combining chili powder, cayenne pepper, sea salt and black pepper with equal parts beer (about 3/4 cup) and olive oil (about 1/4 cup).
Pour this mixture over the turkey before roasting for about 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
You can also add some thyme or sage if desired!
24. Citrus Ginger Glaze
This flavorful combination is great for those who want something sweet but not too sweet!
Combine orange juice, lemon juice, honey and soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until well combined—then pour over the turkey before roasting for about 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
You can also add some thyme or sage if desired!
What Seasoning to Put on Roast Turkey (24 Easy Options)
- Cinnamon-Sugar Rub
- Pesto Butter
- Soy Sauce Marinade
- Rosemary & Lemon Rub
- Lemon-Rosemary Rub
- Citrus & Herb Butter
- Lemon Pepper Rub
- Chili Rub
- Olive Oil + Italian Seasoning Rub
- Curry Powder + Coconut Milk Rub
- Butter + Garlic Rub
- Soy Sauce + Honey Glaze (Dry)
- Lemon & Thyme Rub
- Smoky Paprika Rub
- Ginger & Sesame Rub
- Honey-Orange Glaze (with a little kick!)
- Maple-Mustard Glaze (sweet and savory)
- Chipotle-Honey Glaze (spicy!)
- Brown Sugar & Bourbon Glaze (for the bourbon lovers)
- Mediterranean Rub
- Chipotle Bacon Rub (savory)
- Chipotle Lime Rub (savory)
- Mustard Glaze
- Beer-and-Chili Rub (sweet)
- Citrus Ginger Glaze
- Pick your favorite seasoning from this list to put on your roast turkey.
- Prepare the rest of your dinner.
- Be ready to munch in no time!
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.