How To Cook a Turkey in a Fire Pit

November 21, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The holidays just won’t feel complete without everyone’s favorite poultry of the season, turkey! The hazards that come with cooking it, however, we can all do without. 

Cooking turkey in an oven is hard enough, but cooking in a fire pit might need some advanced skills. It doesn’t have to be all that complicated, though. As long as you pay attention and follow the instructions well for preparing it, you’ll learn how to cook a turkey in a fire pit in no time. 


To cook a turkey in a fire pit, you’ll need a quality fire pit. First, get a campfire started as early as an hour before your intended actual cook time because you’ll need to burn plenty of coals to achieve the perfect heat and sustain it. 

You can use different kinds of wood, but hardwood logs like hard maple, oak, and hickory typically work best. You can also use charcoal if you want to get it done faster. It will only take 15 to 20 minutes to prepare the charcoal briquettes to turn gray, which means it’s ready for cooking.

You’ll also need a large Dutch oven or any pot sizable enough to fit the entire turkey in. You should plan ahead which one you’ll use so you can also make sure that the fire pit will be large and secure enough to put the pot on it. 

One important thing to remember: Make sure that meat does not touch any part of the inside of the Dutch oven or pot — not the bottom (there should be a stand inside), not the sides, and not even the lid. Otherwise, it will defeat the purpose of the Dutch oven, which is to give a consistent cook all throughout.

Another method is to dig a pit six inches deep with a diameter larger than the actual turkey or Dutch oven itself. The coal briquettes produced by the campfire you set up earlier should then be placed in the bottom of the pit. Be sure you’re putting in actual, live coal and not just ash. 

In this second method, you won’t need a Dutch oven, but you will need cheesecloth and several layers of foil to tightly wrap the turkey with. Then you’ll put it on top of the coal briquettes, and then top off with some more coal briquettes to seal it in their heat from top to bottom.


The turkey must be completely thawed before dropping it in to cook. Rub oil on its outside and inside generously, and add your seasonings as preferred. Don’t forget your salt and pepper to taste. 

You can put some aromatics inside the turkey, such as lemons, apples, peeled oranges, onions, and others. However, it may not be a good idea to fill it up with traditional stuffing before cooking. If you want to add it in, do that after the bird has been cooked.

Cook Time

How long does it take to cook a turkey on a pit? That will mostly depend on the size of the turkey and the amount of heat being generated by the pit. But generally, a 12-pound turkey should be cooked and done after three hours. The temperature you’re aiming to get is 165 F. Once you get it, take out the turkey and leave it covered while resting for 20 minutes. Then you can start carving. 

Always take great care when handling fire, hot oil, or sharp and heavy kitchen tools. Happy firepit turkey-cooking!


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