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How to Cook Delicious Garbage Can Turkey

Would you believe me if I told you that this garbage can turkey recipe makes for one of the best turkeys that I have ever tasted?!

garbage can turkey

When I first witnessed a turkey being cooked in a garbage can it blew my mind.  I couldn’t fathom how that was even possible! 

Since then we have made numerous turkeys this way and it has quickly become my preferred way of cooking the most moist and delicious turkey I have ever had.  Let me show you how…

No seriously, this turkey was cooked in a garbage can in 1.5 hours you guys!  It’s super easy to set up and makes the tastiest trash can turkey.

We also have an amazing Smoked Turkey recipe that is to die for. Full of rich, smokey flavour, it’s another one that you should add to the must try list!

Too busy to make this right away? Pin this post for later! Pin this turkey recipe to your favorite board on Pinterest and it will be there when you’re ready.

garbage can turkey

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Supplies needed:


If this is your first time making trash can turkey, be sure to burn the galvanized coating off of your garbage can before cooking. This is done by heating the can to a very high temperature – we did this over a camp fire, using a torch or smoker would work too.

Alternatively you can use an extra large stainless steel stock pot to cook the bird as well (cooking times will vary for this method).

garbage can turkey

How to cook delicious garbage can turkey:

1: Prepare the turkey for cooking.  We found that the absolute best turkey was brined the day before cooking using this amazing turkey brine recipe

After removing from the brine we then coated it in melted butter and our favorite Mango Chipotle Seasoning.  You could also use this herb butter rub recipe. Fasten the wings to the bird with twine and tuck the legs in or fasten together with twine.

garbage can turkey

2: Prepare the cooking area.  You will need to make a stake that sticks out of the ground by 14″.  When we make this recipe while camping we simply use a branch and bury it at least 4″ in the ground so that it’s sturdy enough to hold a 15 lb turkey. 

At home we’ve created a stake using an old ground tamper that we cut to 14″.  The weighted end of the tamper is enough to hold up the turkey.

A little bit of preparation…

garbage can turkey

3: Wrap the stake in tinfoil, creating a ball of foil at the top to support the turkey.  Layer about 2 ft of tinfoil on the ground around the stake.

garbage can turkey preparation

4: Place the bird on the stake.

At this point you can insert a wireless meat thermometer, like the Meater, into the bird to help determine the perfect doneness.

garbage can turkey process

5: Cover the turkey with the garbage can, making sure that it is centered and not touching the can.

garbage can turkey lit

6: Pour 1/3 of the bag of briquettes into the garbage can lid and light them.  Tip: Be sure to use oven mitts when handling the hot lid and garbage can.

garbage can turkey process

7: Pour lit briquettes around the base of the can.

garbage can turkey process

8: Scatter the remaining briquettes around the base of the can on top of the already lit ones.

garbage can cooking

9: Set your timer for 1.5 hours and allow the garbage can to work its magic!  Cook for 1 hour 45 mins for an 18-20 lb turkey.

garbage can cooking

10: Using oven mitts, lift the can to reveal the delicious turkey underneath.

garbage can turkey

Doesn’t this turkey just look amazing you guys?!  Trust me, it tastes even better! 

This garbage can turkey recipe is perfect for using while camping when you don’t have access to an oven or at home when you don’t want to heat up the entire house with the oven or just when you want to make, seriously, the best tasting turkey ever!

garbage can turkey

We also love, love, love this easy Beer Can Chicken recipe, it makes the tastiest bird that we have ever had. If you want to make a smaller dish, try this one and let us know how you like it!

My friend Michelle cooks her turkey in an air fryer!! Have you ever tried it?! Be sure to check out her Air Fryer Turkey for all of the details!

More of our holiday favorites:

If you love this garbage can turkey recipe please help me share it on Facebook or Pinterest so that others can enjoy it too!

garbage can turkey

Delicious Garbage Can Turkey Recipe

Yield: 15 lbs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 45 minutes

This garbage can turkey recipe makes one of the best turkeys that I have ever tasted!


  • 15 pound turkey
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp mango chipotle seasoning
  • Brine:
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 5 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. Place fresh, not frozen, turkey into a brine bag or a large roasting pan.
  2. Cover the turkey entirely with the brine mixture and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  3. Drain and pat the turkey dry with paper towel.
  4. Rub the entire turkey with butter and coat with chipotle seasoning.
  5. Wrap the wings to the body with twine and fasten the legs together.
  6. Place the turkey on a 14" stake in the ground that has been covered by tinfoil.
  7. Cook for 1.5 hours under the garbage can, surrounded by lit briquettes.

Did you make this recipe?

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about heather

Hello, I’m Heather!

I'm an active mom of twin boys who is always looking for opportunities to inspire creativity through fun crafts, do-it-yourself projects and delicious recipes. This blog has been an integral part of supporting my little family and I am so grateful to have you become a part of our journey! Let's create together... Read more...

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Is it safe to prepare food in a galvanized container?