Last Updated on: 5th November 2022, 01:50 am
Rubs are applied to turkeys while smoking to improve the flavor of the meat.
These help us achieve a good crispy bark along with enhancing the flavor of turkey.
But there are many misconceptions when it comes to applying rub on turkeys.
One of these misconceptions is when to apply rubs when smoking.
Smoking is a sensitive process, and a simple flaw can lead to bad flavor.
In this article we are going to explain to you all the ins and outs of applying rub on turkey.
There is no simple answer to the question of when is the best time to rub your turkey.
Different pitmasters have different opinions on this , but in our opinion , rubbing time for turkey when smoking can range from 10 minutes to 6 hours.
Being a passionate pitmaster, I often find myself in such situations.
I personally prefer to rub turkey for 10 minutes to 2 hours when using a dry rub and 2 to 6 hours when using a wet rub.
You should preferably take into account the turkey texture before deciding on rub time.
Rub time for turkey is a personal choice.
There is no hard and fast rule for this .
You should try different ranges and select the one that you like.
But it’s better to start by applying for less time and then increase the time if you want to.
Some people even prefer to rub turkey the night before smoking to allow the turkey to properly absorb the flavor.
But in our opinion, rubbing turkey overnight is not needed because usually the rubs sink into the pores of the turkey when it is heated.
Factors affecting rub time
Rub time is a really controversial topic in the smoking space, and many pitmasters have different opinions on this.
There are various factors that affect the rub time of turkeys while smoking.
These factors usually include turkey texture and rub type.
If you are applying rub on a lean and soft turkey, then it’s better to apply rub for a shorter duration because applying rub for too long can affect the appearance of the turkey.
The quality of rub is as important as any other factor. you should make sure that your rub is not clumped when applying it onto the turkey. here is a complete guide on avoiding the clumping of rub.
Some people even prefer applying rub just before placing it into the smoker.
But it’s better to give it some time so that the rub should sink in and stick properly to the turkey surface.
The rub time for lean turkey can range from 10 minutes to 6 hours .
It will give the rub enough time to sink in without affecting the appearance of the turkey.
When deciding the rub time , you should consider taking into account the rub type that you are planning to use.
There are two main types of rubs used in smoking : dry rub and wet rub.
Both of these require different amounts of time to sink in properly.
When to apply dry rub on turkey
As is obvious by the name, dry rub is dry and is rubbed onto the turkey to get a better flavor and produce a good bark on the turkey.
The most common rub time for a dry rub can range from 10 minutes to 2 hours.
Some pitmasters prefer to apply dry rub for a longer time to give it proper time to sink in.
But in our opinion, giving more time is not needed because the dry rub sinks into the turkey when the turkey is heated and the pores of the meat open.
After opening the pores of the turkey, the rub sinks in and sticks to the surface of the turkey.
Giving more time while applying dry rub can make the turkey reddish.
The appearance of the smoked turkey is as important as the flavor.
You can apply a dry rub on lean and soft turkey just before placing it into the smoker.
To make sure that the rub properly seeps in ,it’s best to give at least 10 minutes before placing it into the smoker.
However, applying the dry rub to the hard turkey is difficult.
Hard cuts of turkey are thick and dry rubbed can stay on the superficial surface, due to which the deeper turkey can become tasteless.
After the turkey has been smoked completely, you need to rest it for some time to allow rub and meat juices to sink in properly. Slicing it immediately will result in spilling out of meat juices. you can read our guide on how long you need to rest turkey for more information.
So it’s better to give it a bit longer time to let the rub stick to the turkey properly and seep in as deeply as possible.
An effective trick to apply dry rub on hard turkey is to massage it roughly while applying rub.
You should consider turning your hand into a fist and hitting the turkey with your knuckles.
It will allow the rub to seep into the turkey.
But if you are smoking a lean turkey, then you should avoid hitting it with your knuckles because it can demage the texture of the turkey.
If you are having a problem sticking the rub onto the surface of the turkey, then you should consider applying olive oil to the turkey before applying the rub.
When to apply a wet rub
The second type of rub that is used most commonly when smoking hard turkey is wet rub.
As is obvious by the name, it is in liquid form and the turkey is submerged into it to allow the rub to seep into the turkey properly.
It is also used to increase the flavor of turkey.
It doesn’t have much effect on the texture of bark, but it is usually used to increase the tenderness of turkeys.
So it requires more time for the seasoning to sink into the turkey and increase its moisture.
A wet rub is usually used on the hard turkey because the hard turkey can dry out when smoked for a long time.
The sweet spot for wet rub time can range from 2 hours to 6 hours because it takes more time for the wet rub to seep in and stick to the turkey.
Can you leave a rub on too long?
There is no black and white answer to this question because many people have different opinions over time.
So a long time for you may be a normal rub time for someone who wants to get more flavor from the rub than turkey.
- Typically, you should rub your turkey for 10 minutes to 6 hours.But it’s a personal choice to apply for an even longer time.
- It depends on whether you want to enjoy turkey flavor or if you are using turkey as a carrier to enjoy rub flavor.
- It’s often known that applying the rub for more time results in more flavor . But it can affect the appearance of the turkey if left for too long.
- You should consider taking appearance into account because no one wants to taste a delicious chunk of turkey that looks messy.
- Furthermore, applying rub for an extended period of time can result in the conversion of the rub to a paste-like structure.
The rub absorbs the internal moisture of the turkey, which means the turkey can dry out during the smoking process.
- Sometimes you should consider that less is more. Because if you rub lean and soft turkey for a long time, you may end up with a reddish turkey along with more flavor of the rub than turkey.
In either case, you can’t go wrong with it.
If you are still interested in applying rub for a longer time, then you should consider the following points.
- First, you should consider using a rub with a low salt content because if the salt content is higher, it can result in absorbing the moisture of the turkey, which can dry out during the smoking process.
- Secondly, you should only apply the rub for a longer time if you are smoking a hard and thick turkey.
Because lean turkey doesn’t require much time and applying rub for more time on the thick turkey often results in enhancing the flavor of the turkey.
Personally, we would recommend always being careful about rub time because it can enhance or destroy the flavor of turkey.
You should consider applying the rub at the appropriate time to get the best flavor possible.
When deciding the rub time for a turkey, you should consider taking into account both the rub type and turkey texture as mentioned above.
If the weather is bad, you should not leave the rub on your turkey for too long.
Do you put rub on both sides of the ribs?
Because everyone wants the same flavor in every bite of the turkey, the simple and straightforward answer is always yes.
Even if you mistakenly leave a piece of turkey without rub , it may feel tasteless when it goes into your mouth.
But you should not restrict yourself to two sides of turkey because some chunks of thick turkey can have more than two sides .
So you will have to apply the rub all around to smoke the turkey with the same flavor in every bit.
Lean turkey doesn’t involve much complexity because it has less surface area and you can easily rub it to get a better flavor.
The real problem is faced when rubbing a hard turkey because it can have multiple sides and the rub may not seep in.
You need to rub and smoke turkey effectively to make sure it has a mouth watering flavor and odor. when the temperature of turkey will increase over time, it will absorb less smoke. here is a more detailed guide on at what temperature does turkey stop taking smoke.
The best method to apply rub on thick turkey is by massaging it with your knuckles .
It will allow the rub to seep into the deeper portion of the turkey and provide consistent flavor throughout the chunk.
You should make sure to not leave any side dry and without rubbing.
Can you leave rub on turkey overnight?
There is no black and white answer to this question because many pitmasters have different opinions over how long to leave the rub on the turkey.
But succinctly, applying rub overnight can result in an intense flavor.
Rub time on turkey is a personal choice.
You should consider testing different rub times and choosing the one that suits you .
Leaving the rub overnight can surely result in more flavor of the rub and less flavor of the turkey.
Personally, I don’t prefer to leave the rub overnight because it doesn’t have much effect on the flavor of the turkey.
The rub actually seeps in when the turkey is heated and the pours of turkey are opened .
You can leave overnight if you are not able to smoke right away.
Rubs are usually applied overnight on hard and thick meat , which takes time to absorb the rub.
Such meats include brisket and pork butt, which are usually rubbed overnight to get better flavor.
But in the case of turkeys, we have to be careful.
Turkey’s meat is soft and lean and is cooked quicker than brisket.
So we don’t have a drying problem during the smoking of turkeys.
A dry rub is usually applied to the turkey to increase the flavor of the meat and get a good , crispy bark.
So we don’t need to wait to apply it overnight.
Dry rub actually stays on the surface of meat and does not seep into the meat over time ,rather it sinks in when heated.
Moreover, leaving the rub overnight on the turkey can This has an impact on the appearance of turkeys.
Can you leave wet rub on turkey overnight?
Usually, wet rub is left overnight because it requires more time to seep into the turkey.
A wet rub is applied to increase the tenderness and moisture of the turkey.
So, if you give the turkey more time to rub, it will retain more moisture and will not dry out during smoking.
Normally, turkey is soft in texture and it smokes quicker than brisket or other hard meat.
So it doesn’t require much moisture and the chances of drying are extremely low.
But if you apply a dry , you should consider applying it for a maximum of 6 hours.
Can you leave the dry rub on the turkey overnight?
When using dry rub, there are no benefits to leaving it overnight because dry rub is applied to get good bark and it usually stays on the surface of the turkey.
Applying dry rub for more time can make the appearance more reddish.
A dry rub is usually used while smoking turkey because it helps us enhance the flavor of the meat and get a good bark on the turkey.
But it often requires less time than wet rub because we don’t have to wait for it to seep into the meat texture.
you also need to keep in mind the clumping of rub . you read our guide on How do I keep my rub from clumping? for more information.
You can apply dry rub as soon as you place the turkey into the smoker,but to make sure that the rub sticks to the surface of the meat,you should considerably apply it for at least 10 minutes.
If you want a more intense flavor, then you can go for about 2 hours.
How long before smoking should I put the rub on?
Now that we have discussed most of the misconceptions related to rub time, you may be thinking how long before you put rub on the turkey.
Rub time can range from 10 minutes to 2 hours for lean turkey and 1 hour to 6 hours for hard turkey.
Hard cuts of turkey require more time because the primary function of the wet rub applied on them is to increase the moisture content of the turkey and avoid it drying out during smoking.
So it requires more time to seep in and perform its function properly.
For soft turkeys, the rub time is lower because the dry rub is applied on a soft turkey to get a good bark on the turkey.
So we don’t need to wait for it to sink in , rather it stays on the surface of the turkey and sinks in when it is exposed to heat.
Should you use olive oil before a dry rub?
Another misconception related to applying rub on turkey is whether you should apply olive oil onto the turkey before the dry rub or not.
The short answer to this question will always be yes, because it helps stick the rub to the turkey surface.
Applying olive oil to the turkey before a dry rub is a personal choice .
Some people prefer using mustard in place of olive oil.
You can use any of the above materials because the main purpose of them is just to help rub the surface of the turkey.
In our personal opinion, olive oil is better than mustard because it is easy to apply and, in addition to helping rub to stick the turkey surface, it also helps to increase the moisture content of the turkey and prevent it from drying out.
The right way to apply olive oil to the turkey is just to apply it in an excess amount on the surface of the turkey and massage it properly.
After that, you can just move on to applying your dry rub and smoking the turkey as planned.
There is no right or wrong time about when to rub turkey before smoking.
You can apply rub for around 10 minutes to 6 hours or even longer if you want to.
You should preferably test different rub times yourself and decide what suits you
You should keep in mind that overnight rubbing will not increase the flavor of turkey.
In our experience the taste of turkey rubbed overnight and the one rubbed for couple of hours is just the same.
But rubbing overnight doesn’t demage the flavor either.
It’s your personal decision to select which one to go with.
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