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The Best Non-Traditional Turkey Recipe

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cut and ready to serve

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Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey

I’ve always said there’s a reason we only eat turkey once a year; sadly, it’s because traditional turkey is just sort of boring. We’re going to change that today with this non-traditional turkey recipe. By non-traditional turkey recipe, I’m not talking about the deep-fried turkey that was so popular for years. Don’t get me wrong, I love a deep-fried turkey at the Thanksgiving table. But, I wanted to do something a bit different this year with the turkey my friends at Omaha Steaks sent me.

For this non-traditional turkey recipe, I’m taking two very distinct flavors that I love, vinegar-based Carolina style BBQ and sweet Thai chili to make what I am calling Thai Chili BBQ Turkey. I’ll promise you after you try this recipe you’re going to be running to the store after your Thanksgiving feast to stock up on as many left over (and on sale) frozen turkeys as you can fit in your freezer.

Gone are the days of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner consisting of boring roast turkey or stuffed turkey. I remember as a kid at those giant Thanksgiving meals that the turkey breast would always go first. In this non-traditional turkey recipe, you might find the wings being the hottest item. The Thai Chili BBQ glaze combined with the cooking technique really makes for some crispy skin and the wings are seriously show-stopping.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cooling on rack

Best Sides Dishes for Turkey

Just because this turkey is non-traditional doesn’t mean the sides can’t still be traditional. For these, I definitely recommend my roasted garlic mashed potatoes and my all-time favorite, cranberry sausage stuffing. Of course, cranberry sauce also goes well with this Thai Chili BBQ turkey but if you are looking for a non-traditional side for this Thanksgiving turkey, you have to try my lobster stuffing. It’s life-changing.

Best Way to Cook a Turkey

This is debatable but for me, I’m going with the turkey on the grill. There are countless advantages to grilling your turkey for Thanksgiving, starting with the flavor from the charcoal or wood pellets. These are flavors that just can’t be achieved in an oven. Second, by grilling your turkey you free up oven space for your sides and pies. Finally, and maybe most importantly, by grilling your turkey, you have a reason to excuse yourself from a holiday crowd of sometimes awkward conversations to “check on the turkey”. In this case, “check on the turkey” is code for take a break and have a beverage of your choosing.

What Temperature to Cook a Turkey

I always say the single most important tool any griller or chef can own is a reliable instant-read thermometer. I’m also a huge fan of using a quality leave-in thermometer for things like turkey, brisket, roasts, etc.

For this turkey cook, we’re going to place our leave-in thermometer probe in the thickest portion of the turkey breast. We’ll then cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 162 degrees F before removing the bird. It’s very important to tent with foil and let the bird rest so the carry-over cooking can carry this bird to the final serving temperature of 165 degrees F.

NOTE: Be sure you are cooking a properly thawed bird. It’s more than the scope of this post but I highly recommend reading this article about thawing turkeys.

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The Best Non-Traditional Turkey Recipe

Serves: 6-8 | Prep Time: 1 day | Cooking Time: 2.5 hours

Ingredients
1 10 lb. Omaha Steaks turkey (backbone removed, turkey split in half)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground black pepper

For the glaze:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fish sauce

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey

Step 1: Remove backbone from turkey using a pair of kitchen shears. This is much easier done with shears as opposed to scissors. If you’re not sure how to do it, see my video here. Using the same sheers, cut the turkey in half along the breast bone. This will allow the turkey to cook much more evenly than a whole turkey, makes for a beautiful presentation, and is infinitely easier to carve.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cut and ready to cook

Step 2: Place turkey on a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet. Dry off the turkey with paper towels to get as much moisture off the skin as possible. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic, and return to the refrigerator overnight. The salt pulls more moisture out of the skin and helps achieve that crispy texture we love.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey seasoned and ready to cook

Step 3: Place turkey on countertop and light grill, setting up for indirect heat. Preheat grill temperature to 225°F.

Step 4: Once the grill is preheated, place a reliable leave-in thermometer in the thickest portion of the breast and place turkey on the grill. Close the lid and allow the turkey to cook until the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cooking on the grill

Step 5: While turkey is cooking, add 2 cups cider vinegar to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once vinegar starts to boil, reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining ingredients for the glaze. Continue to whisk until brown sugar and salt have dissolved. Divide glaze in half and set aside.

Step 6: When the turkey reaches 110°F internal temperature, increase grill temperature to 350°F. Using a hi-temp silicone glazing brush, coat the entire surface of the turkey with glaze. Reapply the glaze every 15 minutes till the turkey reaches 162°F internal temperature.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cooling on a wire rack

Step 7: Remove turkey, tent with foil, and let rest until the internal temperature of the turkey has reached 165°F as read on your leave-in thermometer.

Step 8: Slice and serve with the remaining half of the glaze to be used as a dipping sauce for the turkey.

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cut and ready to serve

Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey

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5 from 1 vote
Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey cut and ready to serve
Sweet Thai Chili BBQ Turkey
Prep Time
1 d
Cook Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
1 d 2 hrs 30 mins
 

After you try this recipe you're going to be running to the store after your Thanksgiving feast to stock up on as many on sale frozen turkeys as you can fit in your freezer.

Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 10 lb Omaha Steaks turkey backbone removed, turkey split in half
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
For the glaze:
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
Instructions
  1. Remove backbone from turkey using a pair of kitchen shears.

  2. Place turkey on a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet. Dry off the turkey with paper towels to get as much moisture off the skin as possible. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic, and return to the refrigerator overnight.

  3. Place turkey on countertop and light grill, setting up for indirect heat. Preheat grill temperature to 225°F.

  4. Once the grill is preheated, place a reliable leave-in thermometer in the thickest portion of the breast and place turkey on the grill. Close the lid and allow the turkey to cook until the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees.

  5. While turkey is cooking, add 2 cups cider vinegar to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once vinegar starts to boil, reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining ingredients for the glaze. Continue to whisk until brown sugar and salt have dissolved. Divide glaze in half and set aside.

  6. When the turkey reaches 110°F internal temperature, increase grill temperature to 350°F. Using a high-temp silicone glazing brush, coat the entire surface of the turkey with glaze. Reapply the glaze every 15 minutes till the turkey reaches 162°F internal temperature.

  7. Remove turkey, tent with foil, and let rest until the internal temperature of the turkey has reached 165°F as read on your leave-in thermometer.

  8. Slice and serve with the remaining half of the glaze to be used as a dipping sauce for the turkey.