Make jerky. Who gets the last laugh now, jerk?

Let me start by saying this jerky is delightful. It’s tart from the cranberries but carries in that “roasted bird” flavor with the garlic and rosemary. However, my experimenting with the jerky did yield one unfortunate batch.


I thought, “What if I tried to make it taste like actual Thanksgiving dinner?” Fast forward to me roasting chicken in the marinade, making a gravy out of it, marinating the turkey pieces and then (accidentally) over cooking the jerky. Not only was it too dry, my whole house smelled like dog food. You know the wet dog food with the chunks and the gravy? That’s the stuff. Not to mention it was kind of a pain to make what are now very fancy dog treats. But I digress.

This is a great way to use up any old turkeys in your freezer. Wild turkey tends to be a little leathery anyway. Why not embrace it? While I started out with raw turkey, you can also use already cooked turkey for this recipe. Just in case, in the near future, you have any leftover turkey breast that no one wants to eat.7982

Now. When I say “cranberry juice” in the ingredient list, I don’t mean “cranberry cocktail” or that Ocean Spray crap that’s really just cranberry-flavored apple juice. Buy the real, 100%, unsweetened cranberry juice. The molasses and brown sugar will even it out. If you can’t find a small jar, freeze the rest into ice cubes and put them into sparkling water for a holiday non-alcoholic festive beverage. Or add vodka to your festive beverage. Because you know, in-laws and such.


To dry it out, I used a food dehydrator. I have done jerky perfectly well in the oven, though. You just have to check on it more first, to drain any liquid that comes out after about the first hour to speed up the process. Then you will need to flip them at some point. Either way, it’s all pretty easy to throw together. I mean except for the 2-day process that is “remember to thaw, then marinate overnight.”

The moral of the story is, don’t marinate jerky meat in gravy. If you want the flavor of Thanksgiving, eat turkey with gravy on it.

Thanksgiving Turkey Jerky


  • 1/2 wild turkey (one thigh and breast, sliced thin in 1/4 inch slices)
  • 1 cup pure cranberry juice (not cranberry)
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (or regular molasses)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • zest and juice of 1 cutie or tangerine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


Step 1
In a ziplock or sealable container, mix all the ingredients for the marinade and stir well. Add the thinly sliced raw turkey strips and marinate overnight.
Step 2
For a food dehydrator: Place the strips without touching in the trays and set to 165 degrees, or whatever your dehydrator recommends for meats. Turn it on and let it dehydrate until the jerky is dried but still bendy (about 2-3 hours).
Step 3
For the oven: Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Place the turkey strips on a foil lined cookie tray. Bake. After about an hour, check on it and drain off any liquid that has accumulated. Bake another 30-45 minutes. If they are looking pretty dry, flip the pieces and continue to bake another 30-45 minutes until the jerky is dry but still bendy.

Non-game substitution: Turkey breast! You could also do this with sliced chicken.

Posted in Venison
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