Turkey on the BBQ

In my book, cooking the festive bird over the fire is far superior to the version done in the oven. There’s a delicious smokiness and succulence to the bird. And, of course, cooking outdoors is part of the charm of a South African lifestyle.

GAS BRAAI – ensure the turkey will fit with the lid closed, or spatchcock the bird

Serves 6–8


  • Marinade:
    • 5 naartjies (or use 4 oranges), halved
    • 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
    • small handful black peppercorns, lightly crushed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 x 750 ml bottle white wine
    • 250 ml (1 cup) white port
  • Turkey
    • 1 x 5–6 kg turkey, defrosted
    • 125 g butter, softened slightly
    • 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 12 whole cloves


  1. Make the marinade by squeezing the juice from the naartjies and combine it with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Reserve the naartjie halves.
  2. Place the turkey into an extra-large ziplock bag or extra-large plastic bag. Pour over the marinade and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Turn from time to time.
  3. The next day, remove the turkey from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and pat the skin dry with paper towel. Using your fingers, carefully lift the skin from the breast without breaking the skin and do the same from the neck side of the bird.
  4. Combine the butter, juniper berries and seasoning. Spread on the breast meat under the skin and do the same from the neck side. Divide the cloves between the naartjie halves and pack the halves into the turkey cavity.
  5. Place the turkey on a metal baking tray or in a foil container and place on the fire. For the kettle braai the turkey is ideal placed on the special roast holder with the foil drip tray underneath to
  6. catch the juices. Cook for 21⁄2–3 hours, basting frequently with the marinade. Use the pan juices and leftover marinade to make the gravy. To keep the temperature constant in the kettle braai, replenish the coals at least once halfway through the cooking time. Leave the turkey to stand for 15 minutes for easy carving.