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Trash Can Turkey - Cook Turkey On The Road

If you find yourself camping around Thanksgiving, or if you are just in the mood for a delicious roasted turkey, you may be disappointed that your RV oven or campfire won’t really seem to do the trick. There is hope! You can cook a delicious turkey in a trash can! It’s not as trashy as it sounds! A slow-cooked turkey comes out hot and delicious, and it is very little work on your part as the chef! Here’s how you can make your own mouth-watering trash can turkey!

Trash Can Turkey

What You’ll Need:

1 Roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil

1 Sturdy wooden dowel or metal rod, at least 2 feet long

1 Pair of heat resistant gloves

1 20 gallon NEW metal trash can (must be new)

1 Bag of Match Light charcoal (15-20 pounds)

1 Disposable aluminum pan, make sure it fits in your trashcan

1 15-pound turkey


1. Be sure to wash and sanitize your trash can, so that no germs or debris get on your turkey!

2. If you are at a campground, measure your fire pit to ensure that there is enough room for the trash can to fit with some room left around the entire outer edge. Line the bottom of your fire pit with aluminum foil. If you are boondocking, or trying this recipe at home, find a nice flat spot with no grass (this process will scorch grass!) and make a large square with tin foil. Secure with rocks or non-flammable objects.

3. Stick your dowel or rod down into the dirt in the center of the square so that it can’t be knocked over easily, then wrap it in foil.

4. Poke a hole the size of your rod in the aluminum pan, and set on the foil with the rod running through it.

5. Clean and season your turkey to your liking, then place it on the rod, legs down.

6. Carefully place the trash can over the turkey, making sure that the turkey is not touching the sides of the trash can.

7. Cover the bottom of the trash can with charcoal, and spread the remaining charcoal evenly on the ground around the rim of the trash can. Use a matchstick to light the charcoal, starting with the bottom layer of charcoal, then moving to the top layer. DO NOT use lighter fluid to light the charcoal! It is important to get the Match Light charcoal to avoid the use of lighter fluid, which will make your turkey dangerous to consume if it comes into contact.

8. Let your turkey cook for about 90 minutes. Do not lift the trash can to check your turkey during this time.

9. After 90 minutes, your charcoal will be coals or nearly extinguished. Use a rake or fire poker to carefully brush off coals and soot from the top of the trash can.

10. Using your heat resistant gloves, carefully remove the trash can off the turkey, taking great care to avoid getting any ash or charcoal on your turkey.

11. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. The temperature should be at least 180 degrees.

12. With your gloves still on, use the aluminum pan and a utensil of some sort to ease the turkey off the rod.

13. Let your turkey cool for a few minutes, then carve and enjoy!

**Note: If you are staying in a campground and the trash can will not work in your fire pit, check with campground management about cooking outside of the fire pit. Most campgrounds do not allow burning outside of fire rings, so this may not be a doable project without a fire pit.

Easy, right? With little effort on your part, you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious, juicy turkey while you’re camping! You can even use the time while you’re waiting for your turkey to cook to play fun camping games like hillbilly golf or washer toss! Or get started on dessert with this tasty recipe. Enjoy!

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