Smoked turkey tails are so indulgent they’re just like the pork stomach of the chook. This is all the pieces you recognize about easy methods to smoke them.

Five smoked turkey tails on a grill.

By Christie Vanover | Printed August 25, 2022 | Final Up to date August 25, 2022

What are turkey tails?

A turkey tail is the muscle above the rear of the turkey that holds the chook’s symbolic tail feathers. Each chook has one, and generally you’ll discover it nonetheless hooked up to the entire turkey that you just purchase for Thanksgiving.

Based on the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, the tail is darkish meat. The thigh and drumsticks are additionally darkish meat, so that you’ll discover the style and texture will probably be just like each of these cuts.

The place it differs nonetheless, is in its fats content material. A 4-ounce portion of turkey tail accommodates 36 grams of fat, making it very wealthy and indulgent.

By comparability, the identical serving measurement turkey thigh has about 10 grams of fats; whereas 4-ounces of pork stomach has round 60 grams of fats.

So, in essence, you possibly can say the turkey tail is just like the pork stomach of the chook.


There are a number of methods to arrange turkey tails. Many well-liked recipes embrace boiling them or braising them, however at this time, I’m going to indicate you easy methods to smoke them.

The recipe contains an non-compulsory honey soy glaze which you could add on the finish. It actually helps crisp up the pores and skin. You too can use BBQ sauce or some other sort of glaze or sauce that you just want.

turkey tail ingredients: water, white vinegar, turkey rub, garlic, turkey tails, honey, soy sauce, dijon.
  • Turkey tails: These are slightly simpler to seek out in some areas of the nation than others. I purchase mine at Wal-Mart. Foster Farms sells them in 2.2-pound packages. You may additionally have luck discovering them at an Asian or Latin market.
  • White vinegar: That is used for the fast marinade.
  • Water: Water is used within the marinade to assist dilute the acidity of the vinegar.
  • Garlic: Use recent garlic for each the marinade and soy honey glaze.
  • Turkey rub: You possibly can season the turkey tails nonetheless you’d like. My do-it-yourself turkey rub is a good possibility.
  • Honey: The glaze on the finish makes use of honey as a sweetener and to present it that good gloss.
  • Soy sauce: The glaze additionally contains soy sauce to offer saltiness and a mahogany shade.
  • Dijon mustard: The mustard is added to the glaze to assist emulsify it.

Substitutions: The honey soy glaze on the finish is totally non-compulsory. You possibly can serve them with out glaze, use your individual favourite glaze or occasion brush them with barbecue sauce.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

Cookin with Cowboy Charcoal

These turkey tails may be smoked up on any sort of grill, however for at this time’s recipe, I used my PK Grill with Cowboy Charcoal hardwood briquets.

You wish to set your grill up with an oblique warmth zone to permit the tails to smoke slowly.

I discover the briquettes add loads of smoke taste, however in order for you you too can add 1-2 wooden chunks. Cherry, pecan and oak all would work nice.

bag of cowboy charcoal by grill.

Easy methods to put together turkey tails

Let’s take a better take a look at the turkey tail. It’s form of an odd trying piece of meat.

The very first thing that stands out are the items protruding of the edges. These are the feather shafts. More often than not they’re absolutely eliminated, however you may discover a piece or two with a couple of left inside.

feather shafts poking out of turkey tail.

The best approach to take away these is to take a small piece of a paper towel after which grip them and provides them a pull. They’ll pop proper out.

Turkey tails even have a gland hooked up to them, however fortuitously these are eliminated throughout processing earlier than they attain your grocery retailer.

In case you occur to be shopping for turkey tails from a neighborhood farmer, make sure to ask them to take away that half. It could possibly trigger the meat to have a tainted style.

paper towel holding feather shaft pulled from tail.

Fast marinade

This step is non-compulsory, however as a result of I wasn’t acquainted with the style of turkey tails, I made a decision to present them a fast marinade in vinegar, water, garlic and turkey rub.

It is a tip I discovered from my husband’s grandpa. He at all times used this marinade with rooster wings, they usually had been superior.

Place them in a zip-top bag and maintain them refrigerated for about an hour. You possibly can go slightly longer, however I wouldn’t go previous 4 hours. In any other case, the meat will begin to get chewy.

It is a nice time to gentle the grill.

zip-top bag with turkey tails in vinegar.

After they’re marinated, take away them from the bag and pat them dry with paper towels.

patting tails dry with paper towel.

Seasoning turkey tails

The meat has been seasoned on the within – due to the marinade. Now, it’s time to season the skin.

My turkey rub recipe works nice for these, as does my Chicken Rub from Spiceology. Be happy to make use of your favourite poultry mix or simply some easy salt, pepper and garlic.

seasoning turkey tails.

The temperature for smoking turkey tails

When organising your grill, shoot for a grill temperature of 250-275F levels with an oblique zone.

At this temperature, the turkey tails will take about 2 1/2 hours to smoke.

In case your temperature is decrease (say round 225F levels), they’ll take longer and the pores and skin could not get as crispy.

You possibly can velocity up the method by elevating the temp to 300F, however I haven’t tried cooking them hotter than that, as a result of we’re smoking them, not grilling them.

five raw turkey tails on grill.

Saucing turkey tails

You possibly can technically take away them from the grill and eat them identical to this, however I like so as to add yet another layer to the pores and skin by including a glaze.

Place a small pot over the charcoal and add honey, soy sauce, dijon mustard and garlic. You too can add a pair dashes of sizzling sauce in the event you like.

spoon over pot with honey soy glaze.

Let this boil and thicken after which brush it everywhere in the tails. Take away the pot from the grill, shut the lid, and let the glaze set for about 10 minutes.

basting turkey tail with glaze.

What’s the meat on the turkey tail like?

The primary time I cooked these, I had no thought what to anticipate. I knew there was meat, fats and a bone, and that’s about it.

The form is form of like a soccer and the bone lies proper within the center with two very juicy items of meat on both sides.

You’ll additionally discover some meat resting on the entrance finish of the bone.

turkey tail bone next to turkey tail.

When you pull off one of many sides, that’s while you get into that lusciously juicy meat.

You possibly can see within the image beneath that the meat is coated with a glaze of turkey fats. That’s why it’s so essential to take these smoked turkey tails to the next temperature.

You need that turkey fats to just about soften in your mouth as you chew into it.

And take a look at the image beneath. Look how the pores and skin is like glass. That’s the work of that honey soy glaze.

meat pulled away from turkey tail bone, showing crispy skin and fatty meat.

What to do with smoked turkey tails

You possibly can serve smoked turkey tails complete as a important dish, or you possibly can pull all the meat and pores and skin and chop it as much as make tacos or sandwiches.

plate of glazed smoked turkey tails.

In case you pull the meat, it’s particularly good cooked up in a skillet or broiled within the oven, as a result of then the fats renders much more, giving it the consistency of carnitas.

You too can add the chopped meat to collard greens or baked beans.

pulled smoked turkey tail on a tortilla with cabbage.

GCG Professional Pitmaster Ideas

  • Take away any feather shafts utilizing a paper towel
  • Marinade in vinegar or a turkey brine
  • Search for the tails to develop a wealthy mahogany shade
  • Cook dinner them to 205-210F levels to render the inside fats
  • Add a glaze to crisp the pores and skin

Ceaselessly Requested Questions

Do I must boil turkey tails?

No. Not in the event you’re smoking them. In case you do wish to boil them, you possibly can end them on the grill or smoker, however they gained’t get fairly as a lot smoke taste.

Do smoked turkey tails have bones?

Sure. There’s a Y-shaped bone that runs down the center of the tail.

Are smoked turkey tails wholesome?

Not likely. Turkey tails are excessive in fats, with 36 grams of fats per 4-ounce serving. They do have 13 grams of protein and meet 4% of your really helpful each day allowance for iron and calcium.

Need much more nice grilling recipes and suggestions? Subscribe to my e-newsletter and comply with me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my newest grilling adventures. In case you make a recipe, I’d love to your to depart a remark and score beneath. Thanks.

Five smoked turkey tails on a grill.

Smoked Turkey Tails

Smoked turkey tails are so indulgent they’re just like the pork stomach of the chook. This is all the pieces you recognize about easy methods to smoke them.

Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook dinner Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Servings 5


  • 5 turkey tails
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tsp turkey rub divided
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic minced


  • Prep: Examine the turkey tails. In case you see any feather shafts, pull them out, utilizing a paper towel to assist grip them.

  • Marinate: Place the tails in a zip-top bag. Add the vinegar, water, 5 minced garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon turkey rub. Take away all the air and seal. Place in a big bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

  • Warmth Grill: Warmth your grill to 250-275F levels with an oblique warmth zone.

  • Season: After an hour, take away the tails from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Season throughout with about 1 tablespoon of turkey rub.

  • Smoke: Add the turkey tails to the smoker over oblique warmth skin-side up and smoke for about 2 1/2 hours. You need the skins to have a mahogany shade and the inner temperature to succeed in 205-210F levels.

  • Glaze: Place a small pot over the coals. Add the honey, soy sauce, dijon and a pair of minced garlic cloves. You too can add a splash of sizzling sauce. Convey to a simmer. Then, brush onto the tails. Take away the pot kind the grill. Shut the lid, and let the tails smoke for 10 extra minutes.


You possibly can serve the turkey tails complete or pull the meat from the bones for tacos or sandwiches. 


Energy: 820kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 25gFats: 65gSaturated Fats: 18gPolyunsaturated Fats: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fats: 0.2gLdl cholesterol: 63mgSodium: 854mgPotassium: 71mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 47IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 1mg

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