Smoked Jerk Turkey Thighs & Drumsticks


Turkey dark meat is a great base for the intense heat of this jerk rub and the richness of smoking. Add more or fewer Scotch bonnets to your taste and be careful handling them. Some grocers and butchers have fresh turkey pieces available year-round. You can also stock up and freeze turkey when it is on sale—usually after Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Serves 4–6

Jerk Rub
4–6 small Scotch bonnet peppers, stems and seeds removed, fewer if you like it less spicy
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
¼ cup orange juice

6 pounds turkey legs or thighs

Make jerk rub. Combine ingredients in blender or food processor to a coarse paste. If too thick, add more orange juice or water.

Use spoon or kitchen gloves to coat turkey pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. A gallon zipper bag also works well.

Prepare grill for medium, indirect heat (about 250°). Place turkey on cool side of grill. Check every 30 to 40 minutes and add coals or wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke. Turkey is done when meat thermometer reads 165°, about 2 to 3 hours.


Michael Floreak is a food writer who lives and often eats in Cambridge. His interviews with authors, chefs, writers, food policy experts and other characters from the food world have appeared regularly in the Boston Globe and To Market magazine. Michael holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and recently completed a Master’s of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy from Boston University. In addition to writing about food, Michael works as a brand strategist and writer. You reach him by email at or follow on Twitter: @floreak.