Sous Vide + BBQ = A Brilliant New Turkey Recipe

This recipe will make the best turkey you have ever tasted, guaranteed. It will feature superbly tender and and juicy meat from the extremely low and slow sous vide method, highlighted by the delicate elegance of hardwood smoke and crispy skin. Here's how.

If you are not familiar with the concepts of sous-vide-que, then click the link. You will need a sous vide immersion circulator such as the Joule, our fave. You will also need a grill and hardwood chips, pellets, or sawdust. We want lots of smoke in a hurry, so chunks are not ideal. I do it with GrillGrates, a product that puts the smoldering wood within 1/2" of the meat. Your Thanksgiving or weeknight turkey will never be the same.

And here's a recipe:

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This recipe will make the best turkey you have ever tasted, guaranteed. It will feature superbly tender and and juicy meat from the extremely low and slow sous vide method, highlighted by the delicate elegance of hardwood smoke and crispy skin.

Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree.

Cuisine. American.

Makes. 6 to 10 servings depending on the size of the bird

Takes. 14 to 24 hours


1 whole turkey

Morton's coarse kosher salt (read more about the science of salt here)


Hawaiian Huli-Huli Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce Recipe

About the Huli-Huli. You can make you own easily by following the link above or just buy a premade teriyaki sauce and it works just fine.


1) Prep. Break down the bird into quarters, 2 breast lobes, and two drumstick/thigh combos. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat and a similar amount of sugar and let it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours so the salt can penetrate deep. Then put the meat in freezer safe zipper bags.

2) Set up the sous vide machine. Ideally we would cook the legs and breasts separately at different temps, as in the video above, the experts at Joule recommend we cook the breasts at 130°F and legs at 150°F, but our tests found very little difference if you compromise and cook them both at the same temp, 140°F. So set your sous vide machine for 140°F.

3) Cook. Slip the meat into the bags and slip the bag into the water and seal it so there is no air in the bag. Push it under water. If it floats, open the bag and insert a weight like a spoon. Leave it in the water for at least 12 hours. Watch the water level since some will evaporate.

Video: Sous Vide Que (2 min)

Here's a 2 minute video of the process:

4) Make gravy. After 12 hours or more, remove the meat and pour the juices in the bag into a sauce pan. Bring it to a low simmer and skim off any scum. Season it with salt and herbs. I like thyme and sage. Strain. This is the basis of your gravy. You can thicken it with a roux made from equal parts butter and flour heated in a pan til it turns pale yellow, but I prefer to serve it thin so it can penetrate a bit.

Video: Sous Vide Que (6 1/2 min)

Here's a longer, 6 1/2 minute version.

5) Crisp the skin. Pat the meat dry. Fire up a grill as hot as possible and throw chips or pellets on the fire and generate as much smoke as possible. I like to use a product called GrillGrates™ because they have a bottom that can hold the wood and smoke in very close proximity to the meat. Paint the meat with the Huli-Huli sauce. Turn the meat every 2 to 3 minutes so the grates don't burn the skin. Leave it on just long enough, with the lid up, to color and flavor the meat without overcooking it. Serve.

"Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants."Comedian Kevin James

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.




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