These Smoked Turkey Necks are incredibly delicious, tender, and smothered in BBQ sauce. This recipe uses only four ingredients and can be a fun way to spice up your dinner spread and surprise your guests!
Wondering what to make for Thanksgiving? Smoking a turkey can be a whole day’s affair. Smoked turkey necks, on the other hand, are just as flavorful and take minimal effort.
Turkey necks are a staple in Southern American cooking and are generally used to enrich stews or greens. They taste great when cooked in the oven, instant pot, or slow cooker.
However, as a grill enthusiast, I had to figure out the best way to make them on the grill. Now, it is one of my favorite turkey recipes.
🍽️ Why This Works
Minimal Prep | It takes only five minutes to prepare the ingredients and you can focus on other dishes while you leave the turkey necks to smoke on the grill. Enjoy the smoked turkey necks with almost any side dish or just on their own.
Short Smoking Time | Whether you’re smoking the full necks or cut-up portions they’ll be ready in 2 hours tops.
Frugal | Turkey necks are inexpensive and smoking them will take them to a whole new level of deliciousness!
📝 Ingredient Notes
Turkey Necks – Turkey necks can be purchased separately or they might come when you buy an entire turkey. Depending on your serving size, you can use the whole neck bone or cut it into bite-size pieces. The great thing about them is they have a lot more meat compared to pork neck bones and chicken necks.
Olive Oil – You probably have this one at home. I used Classic olive oil by the brand Pompeian. The olive oil will help the dry rub stick to the turkey neck skin.
Dry Rub – You can use any dry rub you have at home. I chose the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Cajun Foreplay dry spice rub for the extra spice.
BBQ Sauce – Since I used a spicy dry rub, I opted for the sweet and spicy BBQ sauce by Sweet Baby Ray’s.
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Smoker – You will need a smoker or a gas grill. If you don’t have a smoker, you can still put in some wood chips and cook the turkey necks on indirect heat.
Wood – I recommend using Applewood or any mild fruitwood for this recipe. There are a few other alternatives listed in my Best Wood to Smoke a Turkey guide. For a more elaborate comparison, take a look at the Wood Smoking Cheat Sheet.
Zippered bag – You can use a quart or gallon-size zippered bag depending on your batch. I prefer zippered bags over mixing bowls as it is easier to spread the dry rub evenly across the turkey necks. Alternatively, you can use a large bowl if you prefer.
BBQ Brush – This brand of silicone BBQ Brush gets in the nooks and crannies easily and cleanup usually takes a couple of seconds.
Meat thermometer – You will want a meat thermometer, preferably one for poultry, to make sure the inside is fully cooked. My favorite meat thermometer is wireless, so it alerts you when the internal temperature reaches a certain point.
Step One: Heat up the smoker to a low-medium heat of 275°F.
Step Two: Wash and pat dry the turkey necks using paper towels, then place them inside a zippered bag or a large bowl. Add in olive oil, dry rub seasoning, and BBQ sauce and toss for an even coat.
Step Three: Place the turkey necks away from direct heat and smoke on the grill for up to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Make sure the grill lid is closed during this time. You can prepare side dishes during this time.
Step Four: Serve and enjoy!
Note: The cooking time depends on whether you’re smoking full turkey necks or cut-up portions. The portioned necks will need only 60-90 minutes in the smoker.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
I used a combination of Cajun dry seasoning and sweet and spicy BBQ sauce for a little bit of heat and sweetness. You can adjust your heat preference and opt for spicier or less spicy alternatives.
Since this recipe requires quick preparation and low surveillance during the smoking period, I recommend starting it before you move on to other recipes. You can focus on making side dishes while the turkey necks are smoking on the grill.
Make sure to keep the turkey necks away from direct heat during the smoking period. We want to preserve their natural juice while letting it cook.
🧑🍳 Storage and Reheating
You can store the leftover turkey necks in a storage container or a zippered bag for 2-3 days in the fridge. If you want to make a batch and use it over time, you can also freeze the remainder for 2-6 months in the freezer.
When it’s time to reheat, you have a few different options:
Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or pan fry on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes. Make sure it is thoroughly heated.
If you want the extra crunch, you can also put it in the air fryer at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can pop them in the oven at 350°F for around 15 minutes.
You might want to add a little bit of BBQ sauce on top before serving.
Smoked turkey neck gumbo is a wonderful recipe that I’m sure you’ll love. This slow-cooked meal rich in veggies like garlic cloves, onions, celery stalks, bell peppers, and an assortment of spices is a heart-warming meal that will leave everyone satisfied!
Use them to make turkey stock just like you would chicken stock but with the extra smoky flavor. They’re also the perfect addition to soups, stews, and broths!
Additions and Substitutions
Smoked turkey necks are the perfect vessel to bring in any flavor you want to channel. If you want to add your own touch or don’t have the ingredients on hand, here are some ideas to inspire you!
Other BBQ sauce options
The world of BBQ sauce is endless! You can create your own BBQ sauce and it goes a long way. My sweet and spicy BBQ sauce recipe would go perfectly with these turkey necks. Some of my more unique BBQ sauce recipes are whiskey BBQ sauce, cherry and bourbon BBQ sauce, and smoked pumpkin bourbon BBQ sauce.
Other dry rub options
If you don’t have store-bought dry rub or want to add your own touch, you can always make your own mix.
It is very fun and easy to make your own all-purpose dry rub, homemade Java rub, or Yucatan dry rub. It’s all a matter of placing the ingredients in a small bowl and giving them a good stir.
The best thing about making your own dry rub is that you can adjust how much you want of a certain ingredient. The main ingredients for dry rub are:
- Salt (Kosher salt is preferred)
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Ground mustard
- Onion powder
Other marinade options
For an extra depth of flavor, you may choose to marinade the turkey necks in a zippered bag for a few hours or overnight. You can create a simple marinade using olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and BBQ sauce. Alternatively, check out my recipe for honey lemon marinade or rosemary thyme marinade.
You can use the same process for other parts of a turkey, such as smoked turkey wings or smoked turkey breast. Keep in mind that due to the size difference, cooking times might vary.
Classic side dishes
These smoked turkey necks can be enjoyed with almost any of your favorite side dishes, from rice to mashed potatoes to biscuits. You can also pair it with slow-cooked or grilled baked beans. A classic mac-n-cheese is a must as well! As for potatoes, there is a whole list of ways you can prepare them, from smoking to grilling to frying.
Thanksgiving side dishes
Any Thanksgiving side dish would also go wonderfully with delicious turkey necks. Check out our recipe for smoked or grilled sweet potatoes or corn on the cob.
Healthy side dishes
Collard greens are traditionally eaten with smoked turkey necks and are packed with nutrients. Grilled broccolini and smoked asparagus bundles are also a great way to get your greens in. You may also grill some parsnips and onions for more flavor.
For even more ideas, check out our BBQ Sides selection. There’s also an impressive number of BBQ chicken sides that go well with all poultry, including turkey.
Alternatively, you can always snack on them on their own. We recommend that you dip them in a creamy remoulade sauce or a honey sriracha sauce.
🍗More Smoked Turkey Recipes
Smoking turkey is not difficult at all, and you’ll love the results every time!
When you’re not in a rush, a whole smoked turkey makes a fabulous meal, and going for a smoked Spatchcock turkey will lower the smoking time significantly.
Check out our top turkey smoking tips to level up your BBQ skills, and make sure your turkey always turns out perfect.
Turkey parts are also quick smoker recipes perfect for a BBQ cookout! Smoked turkey wings, smoked turkey legs, smoked turkey thighs, and smoked turkey breast are delicious, inexpensive recipes, perfect for feeding a crowd.
❓ Recipe FAQ
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