Pork-Crusted Turkey, Simple Cook For Crispy Skin

pork crusted turkey
pork crusted turkey
Crispy skin, sliced turkey on a bed of fresh herbs. The smell is incredible.

Pork-Crusted Turkey, Grill-Fried, and Delicious

Nailing that perfect smoked turkey isn’t easy for everyone. So many tips, tricks, and steps to master, but we have so little patience. Even if you do nail it, it’s just turkey. Most of us don’t enjoy a simple turkey. That’s why I wanted to elevate the idea by combining the core of fried-chicken into a grill-fried, pork-crusted turkey.

So what’s this pork?

Glad you asked, it’s pork rinds. These are similar to chicharrones, but instead, it’s just the pork skin that’s fried. I used a ground variation of the pork rinds, made by Pork Panko, which is similar to the size of panko bread crumbs. You can certainly buy a bag of pork rinds and throw them in the food processor, but honestly, it’s cheaper to buy the jar of pre-ground rinds. Also, way less effort!

side shot crispy smoked turkey

Is this hard to make?

No, it’s not. Very little prep and stress.

I use a similar process to my previous recipe for Grill-Fried Chicken which essentially uses just a flavored oil and seasoned pork rinds. The main difference is that I dry-brine the turkey ahead of time.

Dry-brining is the key

Adding salt to the turkey the night before is going to draw out excess moisture, allowing the formation of that crispy skin we’re looking for. The salt will also penetrate into the turkey, ensuring much more flavor with the meat.

I recommend using the spatchcock process, removing the backbone and flattening the bird. If you try to smoke the turkey whole, with the Pork Panko crust, the bottom of the bird closest to the grates will most likely have a crust that could stick to the grill. You could even split the turkey into halves, or pieces, to create more areas for a pork-crusted surface.

whole smoked turkey

Important Tips for Success

Cooking a turkey isn’t typically a linear path to success. I’ll give you a few tips along the way to maximize the experience for your family:

  • Dry brine ahead of time: Salt the turkey and let it sit in the fridge, uncovered if possible, for at least 24 hours before you cook. This will draw out extra moisture, making the skin crispy. It will also add quite a bit of flavor to the turkey
  • Sprinkle the Pork Panko seasoning from above: Sprinkle it down, and pat it on. Do not roll the turkey in the breading. You’ll have the most even coating if you do it this way.
  • Foil those bones: Halfway through, put a little foil around the bones of the drumsticks. Optional, but they will get super dark if you don’t.

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pork crusted turkey

Pork-Crusted Smoked Turkey

Smokey, savory, crispy turkey. Elevating traditions by combining the core of fried-chicken into a grill-fried, pork-crusted turkey.

  • Total Time: 30 hours
  • Yield: 10 1x


  • 1216 lb turkey
  • Kosher salt (¼ tsp per pound)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Pork Panko
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper



You can use the same principles for individual pieces, such as turkey legs or breast. Just make sure you cook to the preferred temp for white meat and dark meat.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Category: Turkey
  • Method: smoking
  • Cuisine: Holiday meal

Keywords: holiday recipe, turkey, poultry

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