When you cook a turkey on the pit the way we do, you don’t end up with a pretty, gold bird like the ones you see on the covers of the Thanksgiving issues of all the food magazines, But I don’t think most of those pretty birds taste as good as the one that’s been smoked on the pit or grill and seasoned the way we do. Spatchcocking the turkey allows us to cook it more evenly and get seasoning throughout the bird. You be the judge.

Serves 12-16


  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds), giblets removed, and spatchcocked (save the giblets for gravy, dressing or discard)

  • 1⁄2 cup Rodney’s Rib Rub (see below)

  • 4 cups Rodney’s Sauce (see below)


Fire up your grill to 250°F

Prepare the turkey by sprinkling rib rub all over both sides of the bird. Place the turkey on

Rodney Scott Book cover Rodney Scott's World of BBQ Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie

the grill grate skin-side down, close the grill and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Using a small, clean mop or a basting brush, baste the turkey with the sauce. Flip the turkey so it’s skin-side up and baste the skin side. Clowe the grill and cook until the thickest part of the thigh meat measures 160°F, another 1 hour 30 minutes. (Once you have finished basting the turkey, discard any remaining sauce, as it will have come in contact with raw turkey).

Remove the turkey from the grill and let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes before carving and transferring to a platter.

Rodney’s Pro Tip

Spatchcocking the turkey allows it to lie flat on the grill. Have your butcher do this or do it yourself: set the turkey breast-side down on your work surface, with the tail facing you. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up from the tail to the neck on each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and save for soup or discard. If you prefer, at this point, you can cut the turkey in half through the breastplate.

Rodney’s Rib Rub

Makes 2 cups
Can be stored, at room temp for 6 months

  • 1⁄2 cup kosher salt (we like Diamond Crystal)

  • 1⁄4 cup MSG

  • 1⁄4 cup fresh ground black pepper

  • 1⁄4 cup paprika

  • 1⁄4 cup chili powder

  • 1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Rodney’s Sauce

Makes 1 gallon

Rodney’s Sauce is the same vinegar-pepper sauce that we use in large quantities at Rodney Scott’s BBQ restaurants to mop our hogs when they are cooking. It gives the meat a slight tang and a little heat. Some folks may feel like there is too much acid when they taste it on its own but that acid is essential for balancing out fatty, rich meat. Because we serve “whole hog”— which means that the meat that we serve is pulled from all parts of the hog that has been pit- cooked so that each guest gets a little of the shoulder, ham, belly, etc... and that means that the blend is rich and flavorful and can use this hit of acid.

We also use this sauce in recipes like our collard greens where it can take the place of pepper vinegar that you might use in traditional long-cooked greens. While our sauce is not what folks from outside the Eastern Carolinas might be used to, it speaks to Rodney’s heritage, his place and his palate. It is a versatile “all purpose” sauce and great as a finishing sauce as well.

Note: This recipe is for a large amount but because of the ratios and the way it cooks down it is important to make this much—it is not recommended to reduce this recipe by more than half. If you are using it as a “mop sauce” while grilling or smoking, you will need quite a lot with some left for the table. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.

  • 1 gallon distilled, white vinegar

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoons red pepper flakes

  • 2 cups sugar

In a small stockpot, warm the vinegar over medium-high heat. After about 5 minutes, when the vinegar reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, just before it starts to simmer, add the lemon slices and continue to cook until the lemon peels begin to soften and wilt, about 10 minutes more.

Whisk in the black pepper, cayenne, pepper flakes, and sugar. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sauce reaches 190°F, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool before using. Once the lemon is removed, the sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.

Reprinted With Permission From Rodney Scott's World Of BBQ Every Day Is A Good Day: A Cookbook. Copyright © 2021 By Rodney Scott And Lolis Eric Elie. Photographs Copyright © 2021 By Angie Mosier. Published By Clarkson Potter/Publishers, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House.

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