What is a Turducken, Exactly?


Thanksgiving Turducken

It’s the most infamous and outrageous of all Thanksgiving main courses: the Turducken. A meat-on-meat-on-meat extravaganza, this legendary creation is truly the stuff of legend. But what is a Turducken, exactly, and where did it come from?

Heberts Turducken
Hebert’s Specialty Meats’ Original Turducken

The Turducken Origin

First, a little history. Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme helped popularize the Turducken –– defined by the USDA as “a deboned stuffed chicken inside a deboned stuffed duck inside a deboned stuffed turkey”–– but its actual inventor was a Cajun butcher shop called Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana; owners Junior and Sammy Hebert claim that they created it in 1984 upon an enterprising customer’s request.

The Turducken remained largely unknown outside of Louisiana until December 1, 1996, when Glenn Mistich, the owner of a Cajun specialty meat market in Gretna, Louisiana, called Gourmet Butcher Block, presented renowned football broadcaster John Madden with a Turducken before a Saints vs. Rams game at the New Orleans Superdome. Madden was so enamored with the Turducken that he devoured nearly the whole thing (with his bare hands, some claim), sang its praises on live television, and continued to do so on Thanksgiving games and Monday Night Football broadcasts for years to come. And thus, a legend was born.

Butcher Blocks All Madden Turducken
Gourmet Butcher Block’s All-Madden Turducken

How is a Turducken Made?

Making a turducken is quite a complex process; just learning how to debone the three birds properly can take years of practice to perfect. In some instances, the turkey wings and ends of the turkey leg bones are left intact, so after it’s roasted it still resembles a turkey. Seasonings vary, and the layers of turkey, duck, and chicken usually alternate with traditional stuffing or sausage; some even have a different type of stuffing between each bird. After being assembled, it’s tied up and slow-roasted for hours until all the meats are cooked through, with each basting the other during the cooking process.

Where to Buy Turducken

If you’re in the market, you’ve come to the right place! Turduckens are notoriously difficult to make at home, but both of America’s most legendary purveyors, Hebert’s Specialty Meats and Gourmet Butcher Block, are shipping their iconic Turduckens nationwide on Goldbelly. Gourmet Butcher Block’s “All-Madden Turducken” –– the exact same one served to John Madden –– clocks in at a whopping 17 pounds and is stuffed with alternating layers of cornbread dressing and sausage stuffing. And at Hebert’s, the original is available in both small (10 pound Turducken) and large (16 pound Turducken) sizes, and is layered with Cajun cornbread stuffing.

If you’re a poultry lover, there’s more where that came from! Check out all of the Turkeys & Turduckens shipping nationwide on Goldbelly here, and click here to discover all of Goldbelly’s Thanksgiving foods, from thighs to sides to pies and everything in-between!