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Wild Turkey Recipes that Will Convert a Vegetarian

Wild Turkey Recipes that Will Convert a Vegetarian
Recipes like the one for these BBQ Turkey Thighs will have you rethinking what to do with your gobbler in the kitchen. (Holly A. Heyser photo)
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Cooking turkey is a unique endeavor because it tastes virtually the same whether it's wild or domestic. Now before you start yelling, I'm talking about a heritage breed, free-range turkey – not the sad butterballs you see in your freezer section. A good, well-raised "Gucci" turkey – they can run you more than $100 in specialty stores – is pretty much the same as a nice jake or young tom. But like most of us, I'd much rather hunt for my dinner than buy it in a store.

That said, you'd think hunters and home cooks would be way more comfortable preparing wild turkey than, say, grouse or goose. Sadly, that's not been my experience. Most turkey hunters I know skin and breast their birds, leaving the best part in the trash. What's the magical bit being tossed, you ask? The thighs. I'll trade turkey thighs for breasts any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Thigh meat has way more flavor than breast meat, and when barbecued it's my single favorite way to cook turkey – wild or domestic.

Skinned or plucked, there's a whole lot more to a gobbler than the breasts. What follows is my BBQ turkey thigh recipe, plus a few other wild turkey recipes your momma didn't make on Thanksgiving.

BBQ Turkey Thighs Recipe

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


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


  • 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

Get the Recipe: BBQ Turkey Thighs Recipe

Smoked Turkey Hocks and Wings Recipe

wild turkey recipe
Smoked turkey hocks and wings are great cold the next day, too. (Shutterstock photo)

These smoked turkey hocks and wings will keep in the fridge for 10 days or in the freezer for up to 1 year.


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed juniper berries (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon Insta Cure No. 1 (curing salt you can get online or at a butcher shop)
  • 4-8 turkey legs or wings, separated into drumettes and tips

Get the Recipe: Smoked Turkey Hocks and Wings Recipe

Wild Turkey Carnitas Recipe

wild turkey recipe
Pile turkey carnitas into a soft tortilla and top with cilantro, diced onions, and a squeeze of lime. (Holly A. Heyser photo)

Making wild turkey carnitas is a good way to use up turkey legs that are otherwise difficult to eat.


  • 2-4 turkey legs plus wings or thighs
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 3-5 dried small chiles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup lard or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Juice of an orange

Get the Recipe: Wild Turkey Carnitas Recipe

Nordic Turkey Soup Recipe

wild turkey recipe
Top this Nordic Turkey Soup Recipe with sliced radishes just before serving. (Holly A. Heyser photo)

If you like a good chicken soup, you will love this Nordic Turkey Soup Recipe, made with a rich turkey broth, root vegetables, barley, and peas – all ingredients common in Scandinavian cuisine.


  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt
  • 12 juniper berries, crushed (optional)
  • A 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ½ ounce dried mushrooms (any kind)


  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 yellow or white onion, sliced from root to tip
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into discs
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1-2 radishes, sliced paper thin
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Get the Recipe: Nordic Turkey Soup Recipe

Wild Turkey Parmesan Recipe

wild turkey recipe
Serve this turkey parmesan with pasta or on a roll. (Holly A. Heyser photo)

This recipe is total comfort food.


  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste


  • 4-8 turkey breast cutlets (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds total)
  • Salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

Get the Recipe: Wild Turkey Parmesan Recipe

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