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Chinese Barbecue Turkey

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
3 hrs
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

Barbecued meats are a huge part of Alabama cooking, so it's only natural the Thanksgiving turkey should have some of that smoky flavor. I used Chinese ingredients on the turkey, inspired by my time working for the U.S. Olympic teams in Beijing. This recipe is versatile and can also be used on chicken or pork. 

Special equipment: Flavor injector

Technique tip: To avoid overcooking, baste turkey in marinade every 30 minutes and flavor inject marinade into the breast every 30 minutes.


  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 6 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 tablespoons honey
  • 10-pound turkey



Mix everything together and marinate turkey overnight. Reserve marinade after for basting.


Place turkey on rack and cook in oven on 275°F covered in foil for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with leftover marinade and use a flavor injector to inject the breast.


Take foil off the turkey and finish on 400°F for 20 minutes or until turkey reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer.