I tried a $ 129 turducken and my mind was blown


There’s still time to order a pre-assembled tour duck for Thanksgiving this year. And you absolutely should.


There are a lot of Turkey hot takes this time of year. One of the most common is that they just are not very good or too hard to get right, but we give it all a try anyway, because you know, tradition.

It is true that it is not easy to get the big birds to cook an even meal and not dry out over several hours in the oven. You can brine and drip until you are blue in the face, but frying a 12-pound-plus turkey is still a difficult task, even for an experienced home cook. I decided to try something new this year when I saw it authentic Louisiana turduckens for sale online (It’s a turkey stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck for the uninitiated.)

The turduckens I found at Goldbelly were all pre-assembled (with a layer of cornbread filling to start), spicy and ready to be cooked. They looked amazing in their internet glam pictures and had great reviews on Goldbelly. Pound-for-pound, they were not terribly expensive either, especially when you consider that yourself “small” $ 129 turduck feeds up to 15 people. That was enough for me to take a ride on the turduck, and the next thing I knew, a massive serving of shrink-wrapped, frozen meat sat on my doorstep.

I cooked my very first turduck for a Friendsgiving party last weekend. It turned out so tasty that it’s hard to imagine going back to plain old and (sorry) often boring turkey.


My ($ 129) turduck turned out nicely packaged and completely frozen.

David Watsky / CNET

What is a turducken?

Turduckens are whole turkeys that have been boned and stuffed with a whole chicken that has even been stuffed with a boned duck. The solid meat roll is fried like a normal turkey, then cut into slices and served. One of the ideas is that the famous fatty duck helps prevent the famous lean turkey from drying out.

The Turducks landed in our lives, mostly thanks to former NFL coach Spokesman John Madden, who wanted to hit one on live TV in his many Thanksgiving appearances. As the origin story says, a tour duck was sent up to Madden in the press box of a local New Orleans meat shop called the Gourmet Butcher Block during a New Orleans Saints broadcast. Madden tried it, loved it and then incorporated it into his on-air turkey day tradition from then on.

I remember seeing these trios of poultry stuffed inside each other like Russian brooding dolls on TV, but I always assumed the turdock was more of a stunt; a bit like a food meme before we even knew what memes were. I further assumed that although the turducks were good, they were probably more cumbersome than they were worth making, what with all the boning, flattening, filling and seasoning.

This is not the case with these ready-to-fry versions.


The 12-pound tour duck takes about 12 hours to defrost on the counter, and longer if you plan to do so in the fridge.

David Watsky / CNET

How to cook a turducken, and how long does it take?

First, defrost the bird (s), which can take as much as three days in the refrigerator and more than six hours in a sink or bath of cold water.

Making a tour duck is pretty simple, but it takes time. The included instructions instructed me to cook the turdock at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours covered and another hour uncovered to make the skin crisp. I used a frying pan with a pan underneath to catch drips. I also used mine Meat thermometer to track the internal temperature, which must reach 165 degrees in order for poultry to be eaten safely.

Caution: A turducken may take longer to cook than the instructions dictate

My tour duck was nowhere near 165 degrees after the prescribed five hours. In fact, it did not hit the internal temp for another 90 minutes. Luckily we had plenty of wine and appetizers to keep us going, but this is something to keep in mind if your turkey day is going according to a tight schedule.

If you order one, I would definitely weigh your bird (mine was a whole pound heavier than it was advertised to be) and throw it away in an hour or so earlier than you usually do, keeping a close eye on the temperature. As a lucky accident, the extra time in the oven helped to make the skin perfectly crispy brown, and there were plenty of drips in the pan to make sauce. I sniffed a bit and dripped a little melted butter over the skin about an hour before it came out of the oven, but I suppose it would have been plenty crispy on its own.


I cheated and dripped some melted butter over the skin about an hour before it came out of the oven.

David Watsky / CNET

How was it?

Pretty much everyone agreed that it was about the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey experience we had ever had. The fat from the second permeated the entire roast, and all three meats were incredibly moist, tender and pumping with flavor. It was akin to eating pernil (fried pork) or another slow-cooked grill in the way that everything kind of shredded and fell apart. When I cut it into slices, all three types of meat melted in a way of the side and came together with the duck fat, filling and spices, creating a kind of sauce.


The turduck was more like eating pulled pork than a traditional fried turkey.

David Watsky / CNET

The special turduck I ordered had a layer of Cajun cornbread filling and a bit of Cajun spice on the skin so it had a kick; enough to notice, but not overwhelming. And nothing that a bite of creamy mashed potatoes or sweet cranberry sauce could not neutralize.

Where to buy a turducken online?

You can definitely make a turducken from scratch, but boning a whole turkey, a chicken and a duck will take a good while and you will need to nail the sizes to make sure they all fit snugly into each other. My recommendation is to snatch one from Guldmave pre-assembled but not yet cooked.

I chose Heberts 10-pound turduck with cajun cornbread filling for $ 129. There are also other options at Goldbelly, including a 17-pound one from Gourmet Butcher Block ($ 149). Turduckens are mostly still in stock and can be shipped to arrive before Thanksgiving (free if you order soon). Just be sure to allow six or seven hours for the tour duck thaw in a sink with cold water or a few days to thaw in the refrigerator.

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