Trashcan Turkey Cheat Sheet

Thinking about trying trashcan turkey this Thanksgiving? Bob and Beth Groves shared their method with us. Snip this out and keep it handy for Turkey Day.
Photography By Kelley Jordan Heneveld | September 15, 2011


  • 22-pound turkey, washed and seasoned with salt and pepper ONLY


Special Equipment:

• 3-square-foot piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, plus more for wrapping bricks (optional)
• 36-inch steel stake, no coating, sharpened on both ends
• 3 or 4 bricks (optional)
• 30-gallon galvanized trashcan that has been burned inside to rid it of chemicals
• Food thermometer
• 40 pounds of charcoal


1. Lay the foil on the ground where you intend to cook the turkey. Stick the stake into the ground at the center of the foil. The stake should be far enough in the ground so that the trash can will fit over it snuggly when it is time to cover the turkey.

2. If desired, create a platform for the turkey to rest on by covering bricks in aluminum foil. Set the bricks at the base of the stake.

3. Place the turkey, legs down, on the stake. The stake should run through the cavities of the turkey where you would find the neck and giblets. The turkey should stand upright with the leg ends resting on the foil.

4. Cover the staked turkey with the trashcan.

5. Place one layer of hot coals on the top of the upside down trashcan. In addition, place the remaining hot coals around the bottom of the outside of the can. (Groves heats coals in a chimney starter).

6. Place the remaining unlit coals around the bottom of can.

7. Let the turkey cook for 2 hours without peeking. (In very cold weather, it may take 2 hours 15 minutes cook time.)

8. After 2 hours, uncover the bird and check the thermometer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says to cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165° when measured with a food thermometer.

Recipe by Bob Groves

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  • 22-pound turkey, washed and seasoned with salt and pepper ONLY
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