Tom Slater’s Barbecued Wild Turkey

Tom says that the key to this recipe is the use of a real barbecue. Now, I know a bunch of you think that your propane unit qualifies as a barbecue. And I suppose that a Subaru Brat is a pickup truck, too.

To Tom Slater, barbecue means smoke – smoke from real wood coals or charcoal. We’re talking smoky flavor. This recipe also works well with a smoker, especially a water smoker.

You can help keep your turkey moist by placing a pan of water somewhere in the ‘cue when cooking. Check it often to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate. I haven’t included cooking times because it varies so much with the size of the turkey and the heat of the coals.

The best way to cook it is through indirect heat. If you’re using a standard kettle barbecue, get the coals white-hot, then move them to the outside edges of the kettle. Place a pan of water on the lower rack and set the turkey on top. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer reads 150 degrees at the center of the breast.

Tom says, “The legs and thighs will likely require additional cooking time. I usually cut them off and start them at least one hour before I start cooking the rest of the bird.”

You should do likewise. To carve the breasts, remove the entire breast from the bone and then start slicing.

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5 from 1 vote

Tom Slater’s Barbecued Wild Turkey


  • 1 wild turkey split along the breastbone and through the back into halves
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 12 ounces flat beer
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt


  • Combine mustard with remaining ingredients to make marinade. Place turkey halves in a non-reactive container and pour marinade over. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours, turning occasionally. Remove turkey and discard marinade. Allow to air dry for 20 minutes before placing on the barbecue. Cook as per above. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.


  1. Sarah H Warren on April 12, 2022 at 8:38 am

    5 stars
    This marinade is delicious! I made about half of the recipe because I only had a single wild turkey breast. Grilled it on your basic Weber kettle grill on charcoal with some applewood chips. It was tasty! Thanks!

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