Smoked Paprika Roast Turkey

My best memories of Thanksgiving dinner with my family include roasting a turkey, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, and Grandma’s rolls with a pat of butter, spending the holiday with friends and family, and catching up with people, totally relaxed and sipping wine because we’re on vacation!  I love where I live now, but I certainly miss my family – especially around the holidays. No matter what, I still like to roast a turkey, even if we end up having to freeze the meat because we can’t eat it all.

smoked paprika roast turkeyI like to go big with the flavor, so this year I decided to go all out with a smoked paprika rub.
smoked paprika spicesA dark red spice blend gets rubbed into the meat and the skin of the turkey, then glazed in with pan juices.
smoked paprika turkey rubI let this one get a little darker than usual, but without anything getting tough or dried out.
smoked paprika roast turkey 2The best gravy is made from turkey pan juices – gravy from scratch is the best gravy ever, and complements the turkey well because they’ve got the same spices.
turkey gravy
Smoked Paprika Roast Turkey (+ gravy)

Smoked Paprika Roast Turkey (+ gravy)

A smoked paprika rub gives deep smoky flavor to oven roasted turkey, then the pan juices are used to make a delicious gravy


    For the Dry Rub
  • 1 1/2 tbs smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp powdered garlic
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • For the Turkey
  • 12-15 lb turkey, completely thawed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • For the Gravy
  • 4 cups broth (turkey pan juices / broth)
  • 1/3 cup fat (either skimmed fat from turkey broth or butter)
  • 6 tbs flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Mix together the dry rub spices. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place the turkey in the roasting pan. Then, gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs. Spread the rub under the skin as evenly as possible, then sprinkle the remaining rub over the top of the skin. I recommend gloves for this operation, because cayenne is spicy and turmeric turns things yellow.
  3. Tuck the thighs and wings into the bird. Quarter or eighth the onion and tuck the pieces around the bird and in the chest cavity. Do the same with the garlic cloves. Drizzle the olive oil over the turkey, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  4. Place the turkey in the oven. Baste the turkey with pan juices every 30 minutes thereafter, and when the skin is sufficiently browned, loosely place tin foil over the bird. Bake until the lowest internal temperature of the bird is 165°F (should be around 2.5 - 3 hours).
  5. Leaving the foil on the turkey, move it to a serving tray and let it rest for 30 minutes. While it rests, make the gravy.
  6. Gravy
  7. Gently scrape the bottom of the roasting pan, then strain the pan juices in a fine mesh strainer. Let the juices stand for 2 minutes so the fat separates out, then skim the fat off. At this time I made a quick broth from the giblets and neck by simmering 2 cups of water with the organs so that I had around 4 cups of broth when combined with the pan juices.
  8. Make a roux using the skimmed fat and flour: heat the fat in a pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk. Mixture should bubble. Cook for 3 minutes, then slowly whisk in the broth. Season gravy with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer gravy for 5 minutes then remove from heat.

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