3 Non-Traditional Ways to Prepare Your Holiday Turkey

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Deep-Fried Turkey
    • Oil Preparation
    • Seasoning and Frying
  3. Grilled Whole Turkey
    • Preparing the Grill
    • Seasoning and Grilling
  4. Smoked Turkey
    • Sweet Pickle Brine
    • Smoking the Turkey
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQs


When it comes to holiday feasts, the star of the show is often a perfectly roasted turkey. But what if you’re looking to break away from tradition and try something new and exciting? In this article, we’ll explore three non-traditional ways to prepare your holiday turkey: deep-frying, grilling, and smoking. These methods will add a unique twist to your holiday meal and leave your guests craving for more.

Deep-Fried Turkey

Oil Preparation

Deep-frying a turkey requires some preparation to ensure safety. Here’s how to do it:

  • Heat 3 gallons of peanut oil in a large stockpot or turkey fryer to 400 degrees F.
  • To determine the oil level, place the turkey in the fryer and fill with water until the turkey is just covered. Remove the turkey and allow it to drain, patting it dry with paper towels.
  • Note the water level, discard the water, and dry the fryer thoroughly.
  • Fill the frying vessel with oil to the previously noted level to prevent oil spill overs.

Seasoning and Frying

  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Rub 1/4 cup of Creole seasoning over the turkey inside and out.
  • Ensure the neck hole is open at least 2 inches for the oil to flow through.
  • Place a white onion inside the turkey.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil, making sure it’s fully covered.
  • Maintain the oil temperature at 350 degrees F and cook the turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound, approximately 45 minutes.
  • Drain the turkey and check its internal temperature, which should be 180 degrees F.

Grilled Whole Turkey

Preparing the Grill

Grilling a whole turkey outdoors adds a smoky and delicious flavor. Here’s how to do it:

  • Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry.
  • Place the turkey breast side down on the prepared grill and sear it until the skin is golden to dark brown.

Seasoning and Grilling

  • In a large roasting pan, mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon of chopped parsley, and 1 teaspoon of paprika.
  • Place the turkey breast side down in the roasting pan and scoop the pan mixture over it.
  • Cover the turkey tightly with foil and place it on the grill.
  • Grill for 3 to 4 hours until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180°F.
  • Allow the turkey to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Smoked Turkey

Sweet Pickle Brine

Before smoking the turkey, you’ll need to brine it. Here’s a sweet pickle brine recipe:

  • Mix 1 gallon of water, 2 1/2 cups of salt, 1/3 cup of light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of liquid garlic, and 1 oz. of pickling spices.
  • Rinse the turkey, drain it, and pat it dry.
  • Brine the turkey based on its weight: 8 to 12 lbs. for 3 days, 13 to 16 lbs. for 4 days, and 17 to 22 lbs. for 5 days.
  • After brining, rinse the turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat it dry.
  • Allow it to dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Smoking the Turkey

  • Lock the wings behind the back and tie the legs and tail together.
  • Baste the turkey with maple syrup before placing it in the smoker and every 2 hours while smoking.
  • Smoke the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F.
  • Smoking times can vary, so use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.
  • Let the smoked turkey cool in the refrigerator for 24 hours to enhance its flavor.


This holiday season, consider going beyond the traditional oven-roasted turkey. Deep-frying, grilling, or smoking your turkey can add a new dimension of flavor and excitement to your feast. Whichever method you choose, ensure safety precautions and enjoy the delicious results that will leave your guests impressed and satisfied.


Q1: Is deep-frying a turkey safe? A1: Deep-frying can be safe if done with caution. Follow safety guidelines, use the right equipment, and maintain the correct oil temperature.

Q2: Can I use any type of wood for smoking the turkey? A2: While you can use various woods for smoking, fruitwoods like apple and cherry are often recommended for turkey for a milder flavor.

Q3: What’s the benefit of brining a turkey? A3: Brining adds flavor, moisture, and tenderness to the turkey, making it juicier and more flavorful.

Q4: How long should I let the smoked turkey rest? A4: It’s best to let the smoked turkey rest for 24 hours in the refrigerator to enhance its smoky flavor.

Q5: Can I use these methods for a smaller turkey? A5: Yes, you can use these methods for turkeys of various sizes, just adjust the cooking times accordingly.

Now, with these non-traditional turkey preparation methods, you’re ready to make this holiday season a memorable one. Try one or more of these techniques to surprise and delight your guests with a unique and delicious turkey. Access Now for more holiday inspiration.

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