How to Cook a Wild Turkey: The 3 Delicious Recipes to Try Out!

You’ve gone turkey hunting and caught yourself a big one, perfect for Thanksgiving dinner! But wait: How do you properly cook it from scratch?

When you capture the wild turkey, it’s still got its feathers and you’ll need to dress it yourself, cleaning and separating its meats before cooking. It’s different from your typical store-bought domesticated turkey, that’s for sure!

With that being said, what’s the best way to cook wild turkeys and where can you begin? I did the research on how to cook a wild turkey, so you know what to do from start to finish. Read on!

The Benefits of Consuming Wild Turkeys

You’re probably wondering: What does wild turkey have to offer anyway? Is it similar to purchasing a store-bought turkey from the groceries?

Thanksgiving Turkey riding a BBQ grill barrel
Thanksgiving Turkey riding a BBQ grill barrel

Well, consuming wild turkey that’s dressed and cleaned correctly has a ton of advantages, such as:

Versatility In Dishes

Fried, baked, grilled, ground, you name it! There are so many things to create from a turkey that you’ll never run out of ideas.

Tastes Delicious Despite What People Say

People think that wild turkey tastes tougher and the dark meat puts them off. Well, that’s so wrong because it tastes absolutely delicious when you cook it well!

Traditional thanksgiving turkey

Tons of Protein

Turkey offers a great balance of both fat and protein, which is required for more energy and muscle-building. It’s the perfect post-hunting meal to replenish those muscles!

Feel Proud About Your Catch

Who doesn’t feel proud about reaping what they sow? You’ll have bragging rights and tell everyone about your new catch being on the dinner table! 

Discover more:

Dressing and Cleaning a Wild Turkey

Before actually cooking your wild turkey, you have to know what to do once you shoot and capture it in the fields! I recommend that you dress your wild turkey immediately upon killing it, to quicken the process and make it taste better.

Here are the steps to follow when doing so:

  1. For starters, you need to pluck all the feathers, pulling them out bit by bit as you secure the skin. This prevents the skin from tearing. You can also place the bird in a pot of boiling water to make this step (and the following steps) easier.
  2. Next, cut the wings from the first joint and cut its tail above the gland. After that, cut the feet, and remove the head (from the neck).
  3. Once you have properly cut off these body parts, remove its insides by cutting a slit underneath the tail. Pull out the insides by the handful, separating the gizzard, heart, and liver from its innards.
  4. Remove its crop, which is the digested food (the crop lies where the neck lies near the chest).
  5. Rinse its carcass thoroughly to remove blood and lung tissue. After that, you’re ready to take it home and clean/wash it properly.

Check out this helpful video on how to dress a wild turkey:

How to Cook a Wild Turkey: Three Delicious Recipes!

Once your wild turkey is dressed and cleaned, it’s ready to be cooked! These are my three favorite recipes that my entire family loves whenever I bring home wild turkey for our next dinner:

Simple and Flavorful Baked Wild Turkey Breast

smoke wild turkey breast

This is a classic and simple recipe I love to do, without using “complicated” ingredients!


  • One wild turkey breast halved
  • Eight ounces of Italian salad dressing
  • Eight ounces of white wine
  • One oven cooking bag
  • Creole and lemon pepper seasoning
  • Half a cup of better
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil


  1. Mix both dressing and wine, then pour it into a zip-lock bag (one gallon big). Place the turkey breast inside and allow it to marinate overnight, turning it once.
  2. Drain the marinade and throw it away. Sprinkle the seasonings on the turkey breast, and place it in the oven cooking bag.
  3. Melt the butter and mix it with the olive oil, and drizzle around the turkey breast.
  4. Place it on a 9×5 loaf pan and bake for an hour and a half at 350 degrees. Take it out, let it cool, and enjoy it with a salad or rice!

Deep-Fried Crispy Wild Turkey Legs

Deep-Fried Crispy Wild Turkey Legs

I love this because it tastes similar to chicken cutlets but more flavorful and crispy! I love pairing this with a bowl of steaming rice or as a filling sandwich.


  • 1 1/2 pounds wild turkey breasts
  • One quart of buttermilk
  • Two cups of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • One tablespoon of dried sage
  • One tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup of oil


  1. Pound your turkey breasts into four half-inch thick pieces and soak them in buttermilk overnight.
  2. Mix the flour and all the remaining ingredients (besides the oil) in a pan. Remove the turkey breasts from the buttermilk and place it directly on the seasoned flour and dredge thoroughly.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat before pan-frying the cutlets. Turn the breasts every four minutes until golden brown.
  4. Serve and enjoy with your favorite carbs and sauces!

Awesome Wild Turkey Burgers

turkey burgers

Who knew you can make your own turkey burgers, which are less fatty than what you’re used to? It’s extremely delicious and healthy!


  • Two pounds of ground wild turkey
  • One large egg
  • One hot green chili
  • 1/4 cup of red bell pepper
  • Two tablespoons of mixed shallots
  • One teaspoon of minced garlic
  • One teaspoon of ground chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Six toasted burger buns


  1. Combine the ground turkey with the egg, then add the chili, bell pepper, shallots, chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Mix well to blend and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat your grill over medium-high heat, oiling it or using a nonstick pan.
  3. Mold your turkey meat mixture into six equal mounds, shaping it to patties. Then coat the outer parts with a generous amount of olive oil.
  4. Put the burgers on the grill and leave it for six minutes, turning it and grilling for another five minutes.
  5. Place the burgers on the bun and top with your favorite toppings and sauces. Enjoy!

Bonus Tips on Cooking Wild Turkey

Now that you know about the top delicious recipes you can try when cooking a wild turkey, what are other helpful tips to follow? Here are some helpful ones to check out for a better-tasting output:

  • I recommend that you soak the turkey meat overnight using cold and lightly salted water to add more flavor before you cook it. After that, rinse it and wrap it with butcher paper tightly for freezing, or start cooking!
  • What’s great about wild turkeys is that there aren’t any genetic tinkering or use of growth hormones, making it healthier. However, don’t expect it to taste as similar and as soft as your store-bought turkey. Manage your expectations and make sure that you moisten your turkey by using turkey broth to soften it and have it taste tender and juicy!
  • If you plan on grilling or oven-roasting wild turkey, you might want to try using a can of beer to moisten and tenderize the meat! Place the turkey over a full beer can with a wire stand as it cookies. You need to use the outdoor grill to make this task easier.
  • Do not forget to marinate or baste your turkey frequently as it cookies, which ensures that it can come out flavorful and juicy.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it! You don’t need to spend a ton of money hiring someone else to dress or cook your turkey. As long as you follow the steps and had the right supplies, you’ll be able to whip up a delicious dish that everyone will love this Thanksgiving.

I hope that this article on how to cook a wild turkey gave you an idea on what you should begin doing for an awesome dinner with your loved ones. So don’t wait any longer and try any of these recipes now!

If you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences on cooking a wild turkey, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

3 thoughts on “How to Cook a Wild Turkey: The 3 Delicious Recipes to Try Out!”

  1. Here is my favorite wild turkey recipe. It is based on Outbacks wedge salad but the lettuce is cut in slabs so the turkey stays on top. Yummy

  2. Thanks Mitch – these are some excellent recipes. I’m bookmarking this for the spring turkey season coming up! Those wild turkey burgers sound delicious.

    One thing I’ve found to give it a really nice kick is to add some cumin, paprika, and at the end, glaze it with a little honey, and those things come to life! Will try yours though!

    Also, using wild turkey for turkey chili is incredible. That always fills the family.


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