Unlocking the Delectable Secrets of Cooking Turkey Necks

If you’re a fan of flavorful and tender meat, you’ve probably overlooked turkey necks as a culinary delight. However, these underrated morsels are a true gem, offering a unique taste and texture that will tantalize your taste buds. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the art of cooking turkey necks, unveiling tips, techniques, and mouthwatering recipes to elevate your dining experience.

What Are Turkey Necks?

Turkey necks are precisely what their name implies – the neck portion of the turkey, which is often discarded or used for making stock. However, when cooked properly, these unassuming cuts transform into a succulent and flavorful treat. Packed with collagen and connective tissue, turkey necks become incredibly tender and juicy when slowly cooked, making them a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire.

Why Cook Turkey Necks?

If you’re still on the fence about giving turkey necks a try, here are a few compelling reasons to convince you:

  • Flavor Bomb: Turkey necks are bursting with rich, savory flavors that will elevate any dish they’re added to. The slow-cooking process allows the flavors to concentrate and intensify, resulting in a truly delectable experience.

  • Budget-Friendly: Since turkey necks are often overlooked, they are relatively inexpensive compared to other cuts of meat. This makes them an economical choice for stretching your grocery budget without sacrificing taste.

  • Versatile Ingredient: Turkey necks can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to braises and even gravy. Their versatility allows you to explore new culinary horizons and add depth to your favorite recipes.

  • Nutritious: Turkey necks are an excellent source of protein, iron, and other essential nutrients. When cooked properly, they provide a lean and healthy option for those seeking a nutritious meal.

How to Cook Turkey Necks

Now that you’re convinced of the allure of turkey necks, let’s dive into the cooking process. Here are some popular methods and tips to help you achieve tender and flavorful results:


Braising is a slow-cooking method that involves searing the turkey necks and then simmering them in a flavorful liquid. This technique is perfect for rendering the tough connective tissues and infusing the meat with rich flavors.

  • Step 1: Season the turkey necks with your desired spices and herbs (e.g., salt, pepper, garlic, thyme).
  • Step 2: Sear the turkey necks in a hot pan or Dutch oven until browned on all sides.
  • Step 3: Add aromatic vegetables (e.g., onions, carrots, celery) and a flavorful liquid (e.g., broth, wine, or a combination).
  • Step 4: Cover the pot and transfer it to a preheated oven (around 325°F/165°C) or keep it on the stovetop over low heat.
  • Step 5: Braise for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the turkey necks are fork-tender and falling off the bone.


If you prefer a more hands-off approach, simmering is an excellent option for cooking turkey necks. This method involves gently simmering the necks in a flavorful liquid until they become tender and succulent.

  • Step 1: Place the turkey necks in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover them with your desired liquid (e.g., broth, water, or a combination of both).
  • Step 2: Add aromatics like onions, carrots, celery, and your preferred seasonings.
  • Step 3: Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat.
  • Step 4: Cover the pot and let the turkey necks simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.


For those who love a smoky twist, smoking turkey necks can elevate their flavor to new heights. This method requires a bit more equipment (such as a smoker or a grill with a smoker box), but the results are truly exceptional.

  • Step 1: Prepare your smoker or grill for indirect smoking, aiming for a temperature around 225°F (107°C).
  • Step 2: Season the turkey necks with your desired rub or seasoning blend.
  • Step 3: Place the turkey necks in the smoker or on the grill grate, away from direct heat.
  • Step 4: Add your preferred wood chips or chunks to the smoker box or directly onto the coals for that smoky flavor.
  • Step 5: Smoke the turkey necks for 2 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily pulls away from the bone.

Pan-Frying or Grilling

If you’re short on time or prefer a quick cooking method, pan-frying or grilling turkey necks can be a great option. While these methods won’t render the meat as tender as slow-cooking techniques, they can still deliver delicious results.

  • Step 1: Season the turkey necks with your desired spices and herbs.
  • Step 2: Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill over medium-high heat.
  • Step 3: Add a bit of oil or butter to the skillet or grill grates.
  • Step 4: Cook the turkey necks for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until they develop a crispy exterior and the meat is cooked through.

Delectable Turkey Neck Recipes

Now that you’ve mastered the cooking techniques, it’s time to explore some mouthwatering recipes that showcase the versatility and flavor of turkey necks.

Classic Braised Turkey Necks

This classic recipe is the perfect introduction to the world of turkey neck cooking. Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat is simmered in a rich and flavorful broth, making it a comforting and satisfying dish.

Smoked Turkey Neck Chili

Infuse your chili with an extra dose of smoky flavor by incorporating smoked turkey necks. The tender meat will add depth and richness to this hearty and comforting dish.

Turkey Neck Gravy

Elevate your holiday meals or weeknight dinners with a rich and velvety gravy made from turkey necks. The concentrated flavors will take your gravy to new heights, making it the perfect accompaniment to mashed potatoes, stuffing, or roasted meats.

Turkey Neck Soup

Nothing warms the soul quite like a steaming bowl of turkey neck soup. This comforting and nourishing soup is a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey necks, and it’s sure to become a family favorite.

Turkey Neck Sandwiches

For a twist on a classic, try shredding or chopping cooked turkey necks and using them as a flavorful filling for sandwiches. The tender meat pairs beautifully with tangy sauces, crispy veggies, and your favorite bread or roll.

Tips and Tricks for Cooking Turkey Necks

To ensure your turkey neck dishes turn out perfectly every time, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  • Patting Dry: Before cooking, pat the turkey necks dry with paper towels to ensure they brown and crisp up properly.
  • Seasoning Generously: Turkey necks have a rich flavor, so don’t be shy with your seasoning. Generously season them with your favorite spices, herbs, and rubs.
  • Slow and Low: For the most tender and flavorful results, embrace low and slow cooking methods like braising or simmering.
  • Adding Liquid: When braising or simmering, make sure to add enough liquid (broth, wine, or water) to cover the turkey necks or at least reach halfway up their sides.
  • Browning for Flavor: Searing or browning the turkey necks before slow-cooking helps develop a deeper, more complex flavor.
  • Skimming the Fat: If desired, skim off any excess fat that rises to the surface during the cooking process for a lighter dish.
  • Utilizing Leftovers: Turkey necks make excellent leftovers, so don’t hesitate to cook extra and repurpose them in soups, sandwiches, or other creative dishes.

With these tips and techniques in your culinary arsenal, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of cooking turkey necks. So, embrace these often-overlooked morsels and discover a whole new world of deliciousness!

Delicious Smothered Turkey Necks!

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