Cooking a turkey in a clay pot is one of many unique ways to cook a turkey.

Turkey at our house is not always cooked, as you would expect, such as Texas deep-fried, Ohio oven baked, or even outside Cajun seasoned and slow cooked on our grill. Nope, we really don’t have just one “brings back memories” traditionally baked turkey. In the past I have experimented cooking our turkeys with many unique recipes. In Ohio, I watched my YiaYia stuff our turkey with ground lamb or beef, golden raisins, pine nuts, chestnuts or walnuts and cinnamon. I then followed Better Homes and Garden’s recipe when I cooked my first one for Phil, in 1970. Moving on, in Louisiana I learned to make a Cajun turkey and slow roasted it on the outside grill alongside several links of boudin and andouille sausage. Years later we moved back to Baton Rouge where I tried my hand at a turducken … I even deboned all three of the birds myself! It was so delicious but OMG … so much work. It’s a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with spicy sausage cornbread dressing. The next time I made a turducken, we lived here in Kingwood. I bought the turducken fresh and oven ready from Ronnie Veron at Veron's Meat Market. He is from Lafayette, Louisiana. You can learn all about it at If you want to try a turducken now, you can also find them at H-E-B or Central Market in the frozen food section of those grocery stores. For several years we lived in Corpus Christi (1980s), where I always baked our 15-pound turkeys in one of our four microwave ovens. On a side note, for those readers who didn’t know, I had a cooking show. Yes, I taught microwave cooking on television with a live studio audience. Actually, thinking back, I’m amazed my entire family doesn’t glow in the dark from radiation as in those days I made everything in those microwave ovens! Moving on to new ways to bake a bird, I began experimenting with unique options. I tried the brown paper bag method, then the brining method, the clay pot method and, of course, the Greek lemon oregano and garlic method. One year I even made only wings, spicy buffalo turkey wings complete with blue cheese dip and celery sticks. That was our salute to my football turkey day menu … all tailgate food that year! It was our once and done menu, and the family immediately voted to go back to a whole bird! So, the whole bird it is. “Please join our table” as we enjoy this all-American holiday where the bird is the word! By the way you can Google 50 ways to cook a turkey here

I’m starting with my turkey wings … I don’t care what my kids said … I thought they were great and so unique!

Texas Style Buffalo Turkey Wings


1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

4 pounds turkey wings (I like them whole, they stay much juicier, but you can also cut them into wings and drumettes.)


2 tablespoons extra virgin Greek olive oil

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1-1/2 tablespoons reserved spice mixture, from above

1/2 of a (12-ounce) bottle hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, etc.)

1/4 cup unsalted butter (not margarine)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or white vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine all of the spices. Remove and reserve 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mixture. Rinse the wings and pat dry. Pour the wings into a large freezer bag, add the spice mix, seal and shake to coat well. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat the grill to medium-high or preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

ON THE GRILL: Cook the wings over direct heat until they are good and crispy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Turn them over and put them on indirect heat, turning frequently, as needed. IN THE OVEN: Line a baking sheet with a nonstick wire rack. Spray it with PAM. Place the wings on the rack in a single layer and bake them for 50 to 60 minutes, turning halfway through. While the wings are grilling, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the reserved 1-1/2 tablespoons of the spice mixture and 6 ounces of hot sauce. Bring to a simmer; add the butter, vinegar and lime juice. Keep it warm until ready to serve. When ready to serve, place the wings in a large bowl, pour in the sauce and toss. Place back on rack lined baking sheet under broil for about 2-3 minutes to caramelize and crisp up the wings.

Top with shredded cheddar, chopped fresh jalapeños and/or cilantro, if desired.

Blue Cheese Sauce


1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

2 tablespoons finely grated red or green onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves or scallion tops

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Stir together the yogurt, blue cheese, red onion, cilantro and salt and pepper in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

The Potter’s Turkey

I received this recipe about 15 years ago from a friend of mine in Corpus Christi who is a potter. She loved to cook her turkey this way but she bought her clay cooker; she didn’t make it. If you want a custom clay pot for your turkey next year, I suggest you contact John Hyder. He is a fantastic potter!


12-pound turkey or one that will fit comfortably in your pot, fresh or defrosted turkey (I buy organic free range.)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

4 teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 tablespoons herbs de Provence (or use dried oregano, crushed)

1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarsely ground cracked pepper

3-4, 3-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 lemon, halved and sliced and 1 orange, halved and sliced

5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1/3 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped

DIRECTIONS: Soak your clay pot in warm, not hot, water for 30 minutes. Remove gizzards from turkey, pat it dry, and set it aside. Combine EVOO, thyme, paprika and rosemary in a bowl, set aside. Rub the outside of turkey with one half of the oil and herb blend. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper to taste. Place the rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, half of the orange and lemon slices in the turkey. Place it in the clay pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place in a COLD oven. Set the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake the turkey for about 15 minutes per pound. Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a trivet or heat-resistant pad. (Do NOT place it on a cold surface as the pot may crack.) Baste the skin with the remaining olive oil mixture. Put it back in the oven without the lid. Increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes, or until the skin is medium golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees. Place the turkey on a serving platter and garnish remaining lemon and orange slices and parsley.

NOTE: A heated clay pot will crack if placed on a cold surface. Always use a trivet or heat resistant pad to allow the pot to cool. Do not use soap or detergents to clean your pot. Use water, baking soda and a soft brush to remove any baked-on foods Store the pot separately from the lid, to avoid trapping moisture that might create bacterial growth.

P.S. I’m having a contest! I need your “sweet” Christmas recipes! Send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Photos would be great, too. I will pick a few to print from a drawing. If I pick your recipe, I will send you an invite to my Christmas holiday “Baklava and Bubbles Party.”

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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