Big Poppa’s 2023 Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted on Thursday, October 26th, 2023 in BBQ Tips & Tricks, featured recipes, main dish

An easy, fool-proof Turkey + gravy recipe for the smoker

Tired of bone-dry turkey breast? Don’t want to wake up at 5am to cook your bird? Big Poppa’s spatchcocked turkey recipe with the use of a cast iron pan is the answer to all your Thanksgiving woes. Be sure to read the post for ALL of Big Poppa’s Turkey pro-tips (or at the end of this post) – they will guarantee delicious Thanksgiving results!

Don’t have a smoker handy? This recipe can also be easily adapted to the oven.


Course: Main Course, Holiday Dinner   Cuisine: Holiday, American   Prep Time: 30-40min   Cook Time: 2-3hrs   Servings: 10-12


1 x 15lb turkey (spatchcocked)
1/2 Stick of butter, softened
1 x Sweet white onion
1-1.5 Cups Turkey Stock (if needed/as needed)
Large cast iron pan (Lodge 15-17″ or equivalent)
For Gravy: 
1 x Stick of butter
5 Tablespoons of fine flour


Preheat Grill or Oven to 350F

Make compound butter: combine butter and Desert Gold in a small bowl

Spatchcock the turkey, set the neck and the backbone to the side

Rub the compound butter under the skin and on all top exterior turkey parts

Slice the onion and place in pan with the backbone and neck

Snuggle the turkey into the pan, on top of the sliced onion, backbone, and neck

Place on smoker/in oven and cook for 2 hours, or until internal breast temp is 158F

At 1 hour, add a little turkey stock if you feel there aren’t enough juices to make gravy

Pull from smoker/oven at 158F internal temperature

Rest the bird, at least 20 minutes – make your gravy during this time (see recipe below)

DO NOT carve the turkey until all sides are prepared/finished. Carving should be the last thing you do.

To carve: Separate both breasts and cut against the grain. This will ensure that your breast meat is moist and juicy. Separate the thighs and the legs. Plate as desired (see photos for inspiration!).

Gravy Directions: 

Once turkey is removed from pan and set aside to rest, remove the neck and the backbone from the pan

Strain the pan juices into a fat separator

Blend cube of butter with 5 tablespoons of fine flour in a small bowl (aka make a roux)

Deglaze the pan, add the roux and slowly add the turkey stock/pan juices from the fat separator over medium-high heat – whisk and add stock until you receive your desired consistency and remove from heat

Once desired consistency is achieved, transfer to gravy boat/serving bowl.

Note: No need to season this gravy, as the seasonings from the bird have already added the required flavor!


Big Poppa’s Turkey Tips:

-Need to feed a crowd? Cook two smaller turkeys instead of one big one (like 2 x 12lb turkeys, or 15lbs max). By the time a big turkey is done cooking at the bone, the meat near the skin is overcooked! Younger (smaller) birds are more tender too!
DO NOT USE A ROASTING PAN. The temperature of the roasting pan at the bottom is sometimes 80 degrees less than the top. Ever notice that the skin is perfect on the top, and a mess on the bottom? This means the bottom wasn’t roasted. Use a baking sheet with foil lining for easy clean up and a roasting rack for ease of handling… but more importantly, to improve the circulation while the bird cooks.
Rest your meat. Twenty minutes. Then carve when the time is right (see below).
DO NOT CARVE your turkey until all sides/everything is done. This includes aunt Mildred’s jello mold, uncle Larry’s chesnuts, and your niece’s green bean casserole. This should be the LAST thing you do before serving.
Carve it right. Do not slice it like your dad (or uncle, or aunt, or Mom, etc) did with the grain while the breast is attached to the bird. Remove the legs and wings. Slice along the length of the bird to remove the breasts (along the top down) and then cut the bottom off giving you what looks like the shape of a boneless chicken breast – and then slice against the grain.
-Make your stuffing in a crock pot, oven roasting bag, or Pyrex – Don’t stuff a smoked bird – this is no bueno as far as bacteria and food safety goes. Be adventurous and play with different kinds of stuffing; sourdough, corn bread, mix up your sausages and flavors… you can always make another traditional one!
-Spatchcocking is a wonderful way to cook your turkey in less time, while having delicious skin and moist, tender breast meat.
Checking for internal temp: probe in the top of the breast, horizontally, in the deepest part of the turkey – make sure you steer clear of the bone though!
-Compound butter (butter + seasoning) rubbed under the skin and all over the exposed parts of the bird will give it great flavor and a nice skin! For Thanksgiving 2019, Big Poppa used his Desert Gold seasoning in his compound butter.


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