Can You Cook a Turkey in a Dutch Oven?

Turkey is one of those dishes that takes center stage on every table, no matter the occasion when served. It is tender, juicy (if cooked correctly), very filling, and loved by most. If you’re in the states like me, you know this is the most iconic dish served for Thanksgiving. 

While roasting a Turkey slowly in the oven during the big day of the year is the most popular way of preparing this bird, what if you’re looking to spice it up and try something new like cooking the turkey in a dutch oven? 

The real question is, can you cook a turkey in a Dutch oven? Will it still turn out tender and scrumptious or fall flat? Let’s get to answering your burning questions! 

a young lady seasoning a turkey in a dutch oven as she prepares it for cooking over coals for Thanksgiving.

Cooking Turkey In A Dutch Oven

Is It Possible? Yes!

A lot of families have traditional recipes dating back for generations and generations on how to prepare the signature turkey dish.

But if you’re like Caroline and I, you may be looking for a way to change it up a bit and see if the results vary. A couple of holidays ago, we decided we were going to whip out the dutch oven and see if cooking Turkey on it while enjoying the great outdoors would result in a delicious meal. 

cooking turkey on a dutch oven outdoors

If you have roasted a turkey in the oven before, you know it is a long and tedious task. No matter what family member’s recipe you choose, roasting the bird in the oven will take anywhere from 8-9 hours, depending on its size. The worst part about roasting is the turkey might still be dry or undercooked in parts even after all that time and effort. Booo! Not to mention, it takes up valuable oven space, making planning other dishes a pain. 

The one secret that most pro chefs and turkey enthusiasts resort to here is using a Dutch oven. It is an easy and quick way to roast the entire turkey at once, whether you use the power of the oven or charcoal outside (my favorite). 

The Dutch oven will help you get an evenly cooked and tender turkey in just 1.5 to 2 hours, which is significantly less than the standard oven way. Keep reading to find out how you can ace the task of cooking a turkey in a Dutch oven.

Easy Recipe To Make Turkey In A Dutch Oven 

If you are new to cooking turkey in a Dutch oven, here is a super easy recipe that you can follow:

Ingredients You Will Need

For Turkey

  • 1 young turkey weighing 12-14 pounds (reserve neck for stock)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • ½ onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 rosemary stalks 

For Wet Brine

  • 1-gallon vegetable stock
  • 1-gallon cold water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped in 2-3 slices)
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 2 stalks of fresh sage 
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

For Herb Butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sage 
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 4 tablespoon butter, unsalted and at room temperature 


For Wet Brine

  1. Take a large stock pot, put it over medium heat, and add vegetable stock, olive oil, kosher salt, black peppercorns, celery, sage, and onion, and then bring the mixture to a boil. 
  2. Post boiling, remove it from heat, let it cool down and reach room temperature and then you can refrigerate it. 
  3. Add in 1 gallon of cold water and stir it well. 
  4. Take a completely defrosted turkey and remove the giblets and neck from it (). 
  5. Put the turkey in the brine and submerge it completely. You can put it in the fridge for 12-14 hours, but make sure not to keep it for over 24 hours. 
  6. Turn the turkey at least 3 times while it is brining to ensure it gets adequately coated. 

For Turkey

  1. Preheat your Dutch oven to 425 degrees. Wondering what size Dutch oven is needed for a turkey? Well, you will need a 14-inch cast iron deep Dutch oven to cook a 14-pound turkey.
  2. Dry the turkey by gently patting it and absorbing the excess fat from it. 
  3. Start from the neck cavity of the turkey; loosen the skin from the drumsticks and breast by inserting your fingers and gently pushing them between the skin and the bones. Be careful not to break the skin. 
  4. Then you can lift the wings, tip up, and back over, and lastly, tuck them under the turkey. 
  5. Next up, take a small bowl and all the ingredients for butter. 
  6. Take the butter and rub it well under the loose skin, drumsticks, and breasts. You can also apply the butter inside the turkey, along with a few fresh sage leaves. 
  7. To stuff the turkey, put chopped carrots, onion, crushed garlic, rosemary stalks, and quartered lemon inside the bird. 
  8. Then tie the turkey’s legs together with twine. 
  9. If you have a wire rack, place it at the bottom of the Dutch oven. If not, you can place parchment paper to separate the turkey from the bottom. 
  10. Place the turkey in the oven with the breast side up on the paper or the wire rack. Let the turkey bake for around 30 minutes at 425 degrees without the lid on top. It will give a brown color to the top. 
  11. After that, you can cover the Dutch oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. 
  12. Let it bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you want to ascertain whether the turkey is properly cooked, you can also insert a thermometer inside the meaty part of the thigh of the turkey, and the temperature should be 165 degrees.

  13. A turkey weighing 12-14 pounds ideally takes 2-2.5 hours to cook, but since you will cook it with the lid closed, it will take less time. 
  14. Once done, let it rest in a loosely covered oven for another 30 minutes before you can carve it.  

Cooking Turkey in a Dutch Oven with Charcoals

If you decide to take this adventure outside, you’ll need charcoals and a dutch oven that lends itself well to allowing charcoals to sit on top.

cooking turkey in a dutch oven with charcoal

  1. First, start by putting down some foil if you wish and heading up your charcoals with a charcoal chimney. Let the charcoals get nice and hot.
  2. Next, place your hot charcoals in a circle on the foil in the diameter of your dutch oven. Then fill in the circle with a few added charcoals.
  3. Now place your dutch oven over the charcoals and add charcoals on top of your dutch oven to ensure your turkey gets cooked from all angles.
  4. Ensure your thermometer has a wire so you can monitor it in real-time as the turkey cooks.
  5. Light up more charcoals in your chimney so you can rotate in new coals during the cook.


Final Thoughts

Whether you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on short notice or just craving some good old-fashioned turkey and gravy this weekend, the Dutch oven is totally the way to go.

Instead of roasting a turkey the traditional way, you can cook it in a Dutch oven and get a delicious and healthy turkey ready in far less time.

If it’s your first time cooking turkey in a Dutch oven, follow the recipe above and become everyone’s favorite host. Or if you’re looking to try your hand at cooking with charcoal, I highly recommend it.