Roasted Turkey Tails: A Thanksgiving Tradition in Hawaii and Beyond

Turkey tails are rich in fat and flavor, and baking them in the oven will make them extra crispy. These tiny jewels, which can be found in many grocery stores packaged as turkey tails, are delicious as a side dish for holiday meals.

The bundles of fat become even more flavorful when marinated before baking, and baking the tails on a wire rack allows some of the fat to drip off, preventing the skin from becoming too wet. Heres what youll need and how to do it.

Keywords: roasted turkey tails, Thanksgiving, turkey tails, recipe, Hawaii, Samoa, Ghana, soul food, adobo

While many Americans discard turkey tails as undesirable these fatty cuts are a cherished delicacy in various cultures, including Hawaii, Samoa Ghana, and the American South. This article explores the history and cultural significance of roasted turkey tails, provides a detailed recipe, and delves into the surprising ways people enjoy this unique dish.

Cultural Significance:

  • Thanksgiving Tradition: In Hawaii, roasted turkey tails are a staple on Thanksgiving tables, often served alongside a traditional turkey and gravy. Islander’s cousin, Roxanne, who married a Samoan, Billy T., exemplifies this tradition.
  • Global Delicacy: Turkey tails are enjoyed in various countries, including Samoa and Ghana, where they are often imported due to their affordability. Despite attempts to ban them due to health concerns, their popularity persists.
  • Soul Food: In the American South and Southwest, turkey tails are considered “soul food,” a culinary tradition rooted in African American culture.



  • Turkey tails, raw and not smoked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Onion powder to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Mixture of chopped herbs (rosemary, sage, etc.), optional (optional)


  1. Wash the turkey tails and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Use tweezers to remove any visible quill ends of the feathers.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped herbs (optional).
  5. Place turkey tails on a rack over a foil-lined baking pan.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about an hour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a plate and serve with gravy or ketchup.


  • For more information on the history of turkey tails, check out the Smithsonian museum’s online magazine article “Why Don’t We Eat Turkey Tails?”
  • Turkey tails are also popular in Filipino cuisine, where they are often cooked adobo style (braised in a soy-vinegar sauce).
  • Some people, like Islander’s family and Kansas City Chief’s star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, enjoy turkey with ketchup instead of gravy.

Roasted turkey tails, once considered undesirable, have become a cherished culinary tradition in various cultures. This article provides a glimpse into the history and cultural significance of this dish, offering a detailed recipe for those who want to try it themselves. Whether served with gravy or ketchup, roasted turkey tails offer a unique and flavorful Thanksgiving experience.

Additional Resources:

Keywords: roasted turkey tails, Thanksgiving, turkey tails, recipe, Hawaii, Samoa, Ghana, soul food, adobo

How to Bake Turkey Tails Step-by-Step

  • In a bowl, combine distilled white vinegar, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, ground black pepper, granulated garlic, and a sliced small onion to make a marinade for turkey tails. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  • Two to three pounds of turkey tails should be rinsed and dried with paper towels.
  • After 20 minutes, stir the turkey tails once in the marinade bowl and let them sit for 45 minutes.
  • After ten minutes, drain the onions and turkey tails through a colander.
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After lining the baking sheet with foil, cover it with the wire rack.
  • Spray the rack with nonstick spray.
  • With the underside facing down, arrange the turkey tails on the wire rack, giving each one a space of roughly half an inch. Place a small piece of sturdy foil around the onions and seal it shut.
  • Bake the onions and the tails in the oven for approximately one hour, or until the skins are crispy and the meat is cooked through.
  • In a large glass bowl, combine the soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, chopped green and yellow onions, hot pepper flakes, and grape tomatoes to make the sauce for the turkey tails.
  • Take the cooked turkey tails out of the oven and put them in the sauce bowl.
  • Serve right away with a side of baked onions and a generous portion of white or brown rice to soak up the fat.

If you want the skin to be extra crispy and slightly burned, turn the oven on broil right before the end of the baking process.

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

how to cook turkey tails in the oven

How to make roast turkey tails in your oven #easyrecipes #BBQturkeytails


How long does it take to cook a turkey in the oven?

Cook Time (Unstuffed)
Cook Time (Stuffed)
7-10 lbs.
2½-3 hrs.
2¾-3½ hrs.
10-18 lbs.
3-3½ hrs.
3¾-4½ hrs.
18-22 lbs.
3½-4 hrs.
4½-5 hrs.
22-24 lbs.
4-4½ hrs.
5-5½ hrs.

How to cook turkey tails in oven?

Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray a baking dish with cooking oil. Rinse the turkey tails with water, and dry them with paper towels. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the turkey tails into the bowl and coat them with the mixture. Transfer the tails onto the prepared baking dish. Bake for 60-65 minutes.

How long do you marinate turkey tails?

Place the turkey tails in the bowl of marinade for 45 minutes, stirring once after 20 minutes. Drain the turkey tails and the onions through a colander for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the baking sheet with the foil and place the wire rack over the sheet. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.

Should you cover a turkey tail before baking?

Cover the turkey tail with aluminum foil while baking to prevent them from drying out and ensure a juicy result. Don’t forget to remove the foil 10 minutes before the cooking process is over so a nice crust can develop. Experience new flavors with our unique turkey tail recipe. Get ready for an exciting culinary adventure!

What temperature do you cook a turkey tail?

Bake at 350 degrees in covered roaster pan or pan covered with foil until done. Roasted Turkey Tails (By: Texcangal) – You know I found a package of turkey tails – what we used to call the “pope’s nose” back home. It was always my favorite part of the turkey so I picked it up.

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