Let’s Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Turducken

If you haven’t experienced this extraordinary Thanksgiving entrée, it’s a de-boned chicken, stuffed inside a de-boned duck, stuffed inside a deboned turkey. Two homemade stuffings are used to give the de-boned birds a stuffed appearance, proper shape and wonderful flavor.

I’ve prepared this three times. Trust me …. After you’ve made it once you’ll say, “I’ll never do it again!”  It’s a lot of work. Then you remember how everyone raved about the Turducken and once again…..time passes …. and your back to deboning and stuffing birds inside one another for another Thanksgiving.

When you carve into this culinary masterpiece at the dinner table everyone will be amazed! It looks like a regular turkey, although each beautiful slice has stuffings, plus chicken, duck and turkey meat with no bones! The flavor is just off the chart fabulous!

If you have the time (I start two days prior to serving) and want to totally impress your family and / or guests for Thanksgiving, then check out my BabyBoomerBakes recipe for Thanksgiving Turducken.

Thanksgiving Turducken

Helpful Hints to Get Started!  The assembled Turducken must cook 12 – 13 hours, so begin preparation well in advance. Stuffings can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated. I debone the birds the morning before Thanksgiving, refrigerate and assemble the Turducken the evening before Thanksgiving for overnight baking.

1 (approx 25 lb) whole turkey

1 (approx 5-lb) whole duck

1 (approx 3-lb) whole chicken

Seasoning Mix:

3 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp white pepper

1 tbsp celery seed

1 tbsp dried sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic power

Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Other Items Needed:

Large roasting pan with rack

Butchers twine and trussing needle


1 recipe of Buttery Celery and Giblet Stuffing (recipe follows)

1 recipe of Old Fashioned Apple Chestnut Stuffing (recipe follows)

Buttery Celery and Giblet Stuffing

4 cup diced celery

2 cup water

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter

4 qt lightly packed cornbread and biscuit crumbs

2 tbsp poultry seasoning

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Giblets from turkey (cooked for 20 minutes in boiling water, cooled & chopped)

Combine celery and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the celery broth.

Cook the onion in a small sauté pan with the butter over low heat until tender, but not brown; about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine crumbs, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, cooked & chopped giblets, celery, reserved 1 cup of celery broth and onions. Mix thoroughly. Note: I make this 2 days before Thanksgiving and keep refrigerated until ready to assemble Turducken.

Old Fashioned Apple Chestnut Stuffing

8 cups of soft biscuit crumbs

2 tsp poultry seasoning

1 cup chopped white onion

1 tbsp sea salt

1 cup dark raisins

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

4 cups chopped apples (Granny Smith & Red Delicious)

1 cup chopped fresh chestnuts (or pecans) See note*

*Note: To skin fresh chestnuts, prick the shells with a knife. Place in a pan of cold water. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and peel while hot, taking off outer and inner skins. Process in food processor to chop.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to mix, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To Prepare Turducken:

Place the cleaned turkey breast side down on a flat work surface. Cut through the skin along the length of the spine. Using the tip of a heavy knife and starting from the neck end, gently separate meat from rib cage on one side. Toward neck end, cut through meat to expose shoulder-blade, cut meat away from and around the bone, severing bone at the joint to remove shoulder-blade. Disjoint wing between second and third joints. Leave the wing bones and keep the wing attached to the meat.

Continue separating meat from frame, heading toward the thighbone and being careful to keep the oyster (pocket of meat on the back) attached to the skin. Cut through ball and socket joint to release thighbone from carcass. Bird will open on one side, exposing bones left to deal with. Keep the leg attached to the meat.

Repeat boning procedure on the other side of the bird. Carefully remove carcass and reserve for stock or discard. You now have a flat boneless (except for wings and legs) turkey with the skin intact in one large piece. Cover the boned turkey and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Repeat the process on the duck and chicken, but cut off the wings and debone the drumsticks by cutting meat from around bones. Trim any excess fat from the necks of the birds. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

To Assemble:

Spread the turkey skin side down on a flat work surface exposing as much meat as possible. Rub 3 tbsp of seasoning mix evenly over meat. Spread Buttery Celery and Giblet Stuffing over the turkey in an even layer about 3/4-in thick. (Note: You will have a small amount of leftover stuffing.)

Place duck skin side down on top of Celery and Giblet stuffing. Season duck meat with about 1 tbsp of seasoning mix. Spread Old Fashioned Apple Chestnut Stuffing in an even layer about 1/2-in thick over duck. (Note: You may have a small amount of leftover stuffing.)

Arrange the chicken skin side down evenly over Apple Chestnut Stuffing. Season the chicken with the remaining seasoning mix. Spread remaining one or both stuffings on top of chicken.

Find a second set of hands at this point if possible! (I’ve done this alone, but it would be helpful to have a helper.)

Carefully lift the sides of the layered birds folding the sides of the turkey together. Have helper (if available) hold the bird while you truss together the bird with twine. You are sewing the turkey together down the back using the cotton thread. The bird may not close perfectly and a strip of cheesecloth can be used to help close any cracks in the back of the turkey so the stuffing will not fall out when the bird is turned over.

Since the Turducken has no skeleton, it must be reshaped with your hands at this point. Once shaped, tie cotton twine around the bird’s width every inch or so and along the length of the bird at the same intervals. Turn the Turducken over and place on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan so it is breast side up and shape again with hands to give a normal turkey shape. Tie the legs together just above the bone tips.

Place Turducken in a preheated 190-degree oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted through the center reads 165-degrees, about 12 – 13* (see note) hours. No basting is required, although drippings need to be removed every few hours so the lower part of the Turducken does not sit in the drippings while roasting. Remove from the oven and let Turdurken cool in the pan 1 hour before moving to a serving platter.

*Note: Check the Turducken 2 hours before your meal and increase oven temperature to 250 degrees, if necessary, during last hour of roasting to bring internal temperature up to 165 degrees.


  1. Sounds delicious.

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