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Eastern North Carolina Turkey BBQ recipe, as seen on Taste of Southern. Printable recipe.

Eastern Carolina Turkey Barbecue

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: Main Dish, Turkey
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe to roast up some mouthwatering Eastern Carolina Turkey Barbecue, in the oven. We’re turning that same old turkey and gravy, into turkey barbecue and sauce for a nice twist on your holiday meal. Prep the turkey a day ahead of time, and take the pressure out of getting a big meal on the table in a rush.



  • 1 Whole Turkey
  • ½ cup Butter, at room temperature ( 1-stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Tablespoons Steve’s Butt Rub recipe
  • Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce, to taste.

Steve’s Butt Rub Recipe:

  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Place all spices in a jar, cover and shake well. Store leftover rub in a tightly closed jar.

NC Eastern Style Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce recipe:

  • 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ Lemon, medium sized, sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Place all ingredients in a sauce pot and bring to a low simmer.
  • Let simmer 2030 minutes, remove from heat and let cool.


One day prior to cooking your turkey.

  1. Remove butter from refrigerator, set aside and let come to room temperature.
  2. Remove thawed turkey from refrigerator and place in clean sink.
  3. Remove any strings or bands that might be attached to the turkey legs.
  4. Remove neck and giblet pieces from inside turkey. Save for making gravy later. Do Not Discard.
  5. Rinse turkey well, inside and out, under cold running water.
  6. Pat turkey dry with several folded paper towels.
  7. Place softened butter in a small mixing bowl.
  8. Add 2 Tablespoons of the butt rub recipe.
  9. Add Worcestershire sauce.
  10. Add mustard.
  11. Add liquid smoke.
  12. Mix ingredients well to fully combine.
  13. Spread half of butter rub UNDER the skin of the turkey, fully coating the breast meat.
  14. Truss the turkey, securing the legs and wings with kitchen twine.
  15. Rub remaining butter all over the outside of the turkey, coating all parts well.
  16. Line a 9×13 sheet cake pan with aluminum foil.
  17. Add rolled up pieces of foil to pan, or insert wire roasting rack if available.
  18. Place turkey on roasting rack.
  19. Cover turkey with aluminum foil, sealing all edges shut tightly to the pan.
  20. Refrigerate turkey overnight, until ready for roasting.
  21. Thoroughly clean utensils, sink, and all exposed surfaces.
  22. Sanitize sink and counter with a solution of Bleach and water.

On cooking day, 1 hour prior to roasting turkey.

  1. Remove turkey from refrigerator. Remove aluminum foil.
  2. Let sit one hour, on your countertop before roasting.
  3. After one hour… Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Add one cup water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  5. Place pan with turkey, uncovered, on lower rack in your oven.
  6. Roast turkey for 30 minutes ONLY at this 425 degree temperature.
  7. REDUCE HEAT to 350 degrees, after the 30 minutes have passed.
  8. Roast the turkey for the proper amount of time, based on weight of turkey.
  9. Baste the turkey with pan drippings once each hour, until turkey is done. Rotate the pan each time you baste the turkey for more even cooking.
  10. If turkey breast is getting too dark before it’s done, lightly tent the turkey with aluminum foil.
  11. Test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching any bones. Turkey is ready to remove when temperature reads 165 degrees.
  12. Remove roasting pan from oven. Sit on folded towel or wire rack to let meat rest.
  13. Lightly tent the turkey with aluminum foil. It will continue to increase in temperature and cook once it’s removed from the oven.
  14. Let turkey rest beneath the foil tent for 45-60 minutes before carving and serving.
  15. Breast meat may be sliced and served with some of the vinegar based sauce poured over each slice.
  16. After slicing and removing breast meat, pull the rest of the meat from the bones.
  17. Place pulled meat in a mixing bowl. Add vinegar based sauce as desired, and toss well to coat.
  18. Serve warm and Enjoy!


Use our Butt Rub and our Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Based BBQ Sauce recipes, or substitute them with your favorites.

Keywords: Eastern Carolina Barbecue Turkey Recipe, made from scratch, OXO Kitchen Tools Review, BBQ, southern recipes