Skip to Content

How long does it take to cook a turkey in a deep pit?

Cooking a turkey is an art, and there are many ways to do it. One less-known method, however, is cooking a turkey in a deep pit. This ancient cooking method, also known as the Maori hangi, has been used for centuries by indigenous cultures worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll explore how long it takes to cook a turkey in a deep pit and the steps involved in preparing and cooking it.

Step 1: Digging a Pit

The first step in cooking a turkey in a deep pit is digging the pit itself. The pit should be deep and wide enough to hold the turkey, the rocks, and the firewood. A depth of at least two feet and width of three feet is recommended for the pit.

Step 2: Building a Fire

After digging the pit, the next step is to build a fire in it. Gather some dry wood and light it up. Let the fire burn down to hot coals, which will be used to cook the turkey.

Step 3: Preparing the Turkey

While waiting for the fire to burn down, it is time to prepare the turkey. To keep the turkey from burning, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil. Then, season the turkey with your preferred spices. You can add any other ingredients, such as herbs, onions, or garlic, to enhance the flavor.

Step 4: Creating a Bed of Rocks

Once the fire has burned down to hot coals, it is time to create a bed of rocks inside the pit. Use large, flat rocks to create a flat surface on which the turkey will be placed.

Step 5: Placing the Turkey on the Bed of Rocks

Once the bed of rocks is in place, the turkey is then placed on top of it. Be careful when placing the turkey, as it is important to make sure it doesn’t touch the sides of the pit. Any contact with the sides could cause it to burn or cook unevenly.

Step 6: Covering the Turkey

Cover the turkey with a layer of wet burlap sacks or banana leaves. This will keep the moisture in and enhance the flavor of the turkey. After covering the turkey, add another layer of aluminum foil to keep it intact.

Step 7: Burying the Pit

The final step in cooking a turkey in a deep pit is burying the pit. Spread a layer of dirt over the burlap sacks or banana leaves until the entire pit is covered. Leave the turkey to cook for approximately 4 to 5 hours.

Monitor the pit for the first hour or so. Ensure that it hasn’t caught fire and that there is no smoke coming out. Smoke is a good indication that the pit is too hot, and you might want to remove some of the soil. Too much heat could burn the turkey.


Cooking a turkey in a deep pit is not only an ancient method but also a delicious one. It takes some work to prepare the pit and the turkey, but the end result is always worth it. The golden brown color on the outside and juicy tenderness on the inside are unforgettable. Now that you know how long it takes to cook a turkey in a deep pit, you can try it out for your next special occasion!


Can you cook a turkey in a pit?

Yes, you can cook a turkey in a pit. In fact, cooking a turkey in a pit can yield some of the juiciest and most flavorful meat you will ever taste. A pit is essentially an underground oven where food is cooked with the help of hot coals, and in the case of a turkey, this technique can produce excellent results.

To cook a turkey in a pit, you will first need to dig a hole in the ground and build a fire in it. Once the fire has burned down to hot coals, you can wrap the turkey in aluminum foil or place it in a covered roasting pan and bury it in the pit, making sure that it is completely covered with soil. The turkey will then cook slowly in the heat, absorbing the smoky, earthy flavor of the pit.

Another way to cook a turkey in a pit is to use a Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC), a popular type of outdoor cooker that uses a vertical drum to smoke and roast meat. To cook a turkey in a PBC, you can place the turkey on hooks or a special turkey hanger and let it cook in the drum for approximately 4 hours or until a thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the breast or thigh.

Cooking a turkey in a pit can be a fun and delicious way to prepare this classic holiday dish. However, it is important to exercise caution when working with fire and hot coals, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that the turkey is cooked safely and thoroughly.

Is it better to cook a turkey at 300 or 325?

Cooking a turkey is a special task that requires careful temperature control and planning. When it comes to setting the right temperature to cook your turkey, some basic principles must be kept in mind. One of the most frequently asked questions about cooking turkey is whether it’s better to cook it at 300 or 325 degrees F. And the answer is that you should aim for a temperature of 325°F to 350°F.

Roasting a turkey requires a higher temperature than braising or stewing. At high-temperature levels, the turkey develops the desirable golden brown color on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and tender. The problem with lower temperatures is that the turkey will take a very long time to cook, which leads to the risk of bacterial growth. The internal temperature must reach 165°F, or else consuming the turkey could lead to foodborne illnesses.

Additionally, cooking a turkey at a low temperature increases the risk of dry meat. The low-heat method of cooking may tenderize the meat, but it doesn’t always produce the best results. When roasted at a higher temperature, the juices from the turkey are able to distribute evenly throughout the bird, leaving the meat moist and flavorful, unlike the dry and bland meat you might expect when cooking at 300°F.

So, in summary, it’s best to roast your turkey at a temperature between 325°F to 350°F. This higher temperature ensures that the turkey cooks safely, and also produces a juicy and delicious bird with a beautiful golden brown color. When it comes to cooking poultry, patience is key, so it’s important to take your time, monitor the temperature closely, and allow the turkey to rest after cooking to let the juices redistribute themselves. Following these steps will help ensure a perfect turkey every time.

What is the best temperature to cook a turkey on a pellet grill?

When it comes to cooking a turkey on a pellet grill, the recommended temperature range is usually between 275 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range allows the turkey to cook evenly while allowing for the smoky flavor of the pellet grill to infuse into the meat.

To cook a medium-sized whole turkey on a pellet grill, it typically takes around 3.5-4 hours. The first step is to cook the turkey at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for the first two hours. This lower temperature allows the turkey to slowly cook and absorb the smoke from the wood pellets.

After the first two hours, the temperature can be increased to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to help cook the turkey to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the turkey will develop a crispy golden-brown skin while sealing in the juices.

It’s important to note that the cooking time can vary depending on the size of the turkey and the type of pellet grill being used. Therefore, it’s always essential to check the temperature of the turkey using a meat thermometer.

The best temperature to cook a turkey on a pellet grill is between 275 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. By following these temperature guidelines and using a meat thermometer, you can be confident that your turkey will turn out perfectly cooked and infused with a rich smoky flavor.