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BBQ Turkey Thighs Recipe

These BBQ Turkey Thighs take a while to cook on the barbecue, but they are worth the wait.

BBQ Turkey Thighs Recipe

Cook these BBQ Turkey Thighs low and slow. (Holly A. Heyser photo)

Print Recipe

The real key to this BBQ Turkey Thighs Recipe is to cook the turkey thighs low and slow. This is barbecue, after all, not grilling. You want a moderate fire on one side of the grill and the turkey thighs on the other. Just practice a little patience and you'll be rewarded. Believe me, it's well worth the wait.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2-4 hours


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-4 turkey thighs
  • Salt

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • Salt to taste


  1. Get your grill ready as described above. Coat the turkey in the vegetable oil and salt it. Arrange the thighs skin side down (if you plucked your bird) on the cool side of the grill. Cover the grill.
  2. Once the turkey is cooking, make the sauce by cooking the onion and garlic in the butter until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook down by a third. Add more chili powder and salt to taste. You can puree the sauce in the blender if you want; I personally like a smoother sauce. Return the sauce to the stovetop over very low heat.
  3. After the turkey has cooked for 30 minutes, turn it and paint with the BBQ sauce. Repeat this process until the meat wants to fall off the bone, which will take 2-4 hours, depending on how old your turkey was. When the turkey is about ready, move the thighs to the hot side of the grill for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce. Coat the thighs with a little more sauce right when you serve.

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