Learn How to Cook a Turkey in a Garbage Can

Lead Image
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-40
What You'll Need
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Whole thawed turkey
Wooden stake - 1 1/2 feet in length
10-gallon metal garbage can with lid
20 lb. bag of Charcoal
Lighter fluid
Food thermometer

If you want to learn how to cook a turkey in a new and interesting manner, try using a new 10-gallon metal garbage can. Next Thanksgiving, try something different with your turkey. You won’t need very many tools for this job, and the time it takes is comparable or even less than in an oven.

Step 1 - Clear and Prep a Spot

This job has to be done on the grass or on soil. Lay out aluminum foil in about a 3x3 foot square. Use several strips if you have to.

Step 2 - Set the Stake

Using your hammer, pound the wooden stake into the ground exactly in the middle of the aluminum foil square. Make sure it's firmly staked into the ground. Ball up a piece of aluminum foil into the size of a baseball and secure it to the top of the stake.

Step 3 - Light the Coals

On the upside down lid, light the whole bag of charcoal. Wait until they have grayed before you start to cook the turkey.

Step 4 - Set the Turkey

The turkey’s innards must be removed for this to work. Tie the wings and season as you wish. Set the bird on the stake. The ball of foil will prevent the stake from going through the turkey and give it something to rest on. The turkey should never touch the ground or the inside of the can.

Warning: Follow safe food handling procedures to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Step 5 - Place the Can, Set the Coals

Place the garbage can over the turkey. Around the edge of it, build up a small ledge of dirt or sand to add height to the coals. The coals should be ready by now. Place the coals on top of the upturned garbage can and all around the side on the ledge you made. Try to get them as close to the level of the turkey as possible.

Step 6 - Add Other Foods

You can wrap up potatoes stuck with a fork and other vegetables in tin foil and place them on top of the can around the coals. Leave them there for as long as you cook the turkey.

Step 7 - Cook Time

Cook the turkey for at least two hours. By this time, the coals may have burned out. Check the turkey by cutting into it. The juices should flow clear. If not, cook for another hour.

Warning: Poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C) as measured by a food thermometer

Your garbage can turkey is now complete, and with it you have vegetables. This is a great way to cook a turkey, especially when camping or as an alternative to barbecue.

Note: The use of any device to burn charcoal is usually prohibited during air-quality burn bans, drought conditions burn bans, or because of conditional-use regulations based on your premise or location. Check with the appropriate authorities in your area to ensure you are following the laws and regulations.