Turkey Gumbo, Bayou-Style

Save that Thanksgiving Day turkey carcass and freeze it for Turkey Gumbo at Christmas, or make the gumbo right after Thanksgiving and freeze it for cold winter days.

Be sure you have an entire day to devote to this, because making your own turkey stock from the carcass takes lots of time and love!

Turkey Gumbo – Post-Thanksgiving

This is a delicious bayou recipe for your leftover turkey carcass

For the Stock

  • 1 Turkey Carcass (for the stock)
  • 1 Large Onion (for the stock)
  • 2 Celery Stalks (for the stock)
  • 6 Bay Leaves (for the stock)
  • 3 Parsley Stalks (for the stock)

For the Gumbo

  • 1 lb Andouille (or smoked sausage of choice) (Sliced or cut to desired size/shape)
  • 4 Celery Stalks (Chopped to desired size)
  • 2 Bell Peppers – large (Chopped to desired size)
  • 1 Onion – large (Chopped to desired size)
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley Leaves (Chopped fine)
  • 1 Bunch Green Onion Tops (Chopped)
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt (or salt to taste after cooked)
  • 1 tsp File' (for flavor and thickening)

For the Stock

  1. Place carcass, 1 whole onion, 2 celery cut in half, 3 parsley stalks, and bay leaves in large stockpot and fill with water not quite over carcass (see photo) and bring to boil.

  2. After boiling, cover pot and lower to medium/low simmer for at least two hours or until meat falls off the bones. This may take longer, so start early in the day!

  3. Place another large pot or container in sink, place colander on top, and strain the stock, saving the meat and carcass in stockpot.

  4. Pour turkey carcass and all meat that fell off onto a tray to cool. Meanwhile, pour all the stock back into original stockpot on low heat to keep hot.

  5. Separate meat from bones. CAUTION: HOT Chop meat into smaller pieces if so desired. REMEMBER: The meat will continue to fall apart as gumbo cooks! (Trash the bones)

For the Gumbo

  1. In large skillet, place the cut sausage and a small amount of oil to slowly, lightly brown the sausage and render the fat. Then, remove sausage and reserve the oil/fat in skillet.

  2. To the oil in skillet, add the celery, bell pepper, and onion and sauté on low until soft

  3. Using slotted spoon, add all the sautéed vegetables and sausage to stock and simmer on low for an hour

  4. After an hour, taste for seasoning. Add Cajun spice if you like, salt, and black pepper to taste

  5. Now chop the green onion tops and parsley leaves and add to the gumbo.

  6. Add the file' and stir well. Taste again for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if needed.

  7. Gumbo is ready to serve anytime after 15 more minutes of simmer.

Serve gumbo over rice with French Bread. Bayou People enjoy theirs with a dollop of very plain potato salad in the middle (see photo). This ends up making more than a gallon of gumbo, so it will service a nice sized crowd for the holidays! 

Hopefully the photos below will help clarify the steps for beginners.

NOW, before some of you start in on the fact that this gumbo has no roux, stop right there. We’ve had this discussion many times!  If you are a seasoned cook and prefer to have a roux, then go right ahead.  However, in traditional low-bayou gumbo, there is no roux.  The reason this gumbo takes so long is because ALL the flavor and ALL the color come from the cooking process. You don’t see much color in the photo above, because I didn’t put  much sauce in that bowl – I wanted you to see the rice . . . but the sauce/stock is a light brown. All the vegetables in this dish actually form the base for this gumbo, instead of a roux.  If you talk to the old-time bayou cooks, they will tell you that a roux is for a stew, no arguments!  

If you’ve never done this before, you will be surprised how much delicious, moist dark meat is still attached to those bones!  If you don’t want to use the carcass and have lots of meat leftover, then buy some turkey or chicken stock and follow the rest of the instructions for gumbo and it should (almost) as good!

With that in mind, if you have a turkey at Christmas, save the carcass and make yourself a nice big pot of hot gumbo for those cold winter days ahead!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


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    1. Hi Gene! Wow! I didn’t realize you aren’t a cook. It is pretty good if you like turkey gumbo! You can still make you some with your leftover turkey meat if you want to give it a try! I’m always here if you need guidance, friend. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting. BW

  1. Sam makes turkey gumbo all winter long. He even makes it gluten free for me. It’s one of my favorites! It’s one of those things I crave when the weather gets cooler.

    1. Hi Kim. Great to hear from you. Your comment made me smile, because THIS gumbo is gluten-free, simply because IT HAS NO ROUX!!!!! Ta-da!!!

        1. Great! Just be sure you have all day so that those flavors can come together nicely! Do you have file’??? Some people like more, some less. Experiment and let me know how it turned out! Happy Holidays, D.!

  2. I may have to give this recipe a try. I make the roux based which is not a thick gravy that is very good. Do you ever put okra in yours? II put okra in my turkey or chicken but not seafood. I made a deal with my kids years ago. My daughter likes the okra but the boys don’t. Sooo they have to either pick it out or eat around it!

    1. Hey Steffi. I know for sure that you are a great gumbo cooker! This wouldn’t be any better than what you make. No, I don’t put okra in this or chicken, because down here, the best okra gumbo is a shrimp-okra gumbo! If you had it “Houma Indian Style”, you might like it. And we never, ever put tomatoes in a gumbo!!!

  3. So good!! I furnished 2, 14 1/2 lb turkeys for my son to cook. He uses an oil-free turkey size air fryer which makes a fantastic roasted turkey that he sometimes injects with seasoning. This year it was just plain salt and pepper seasoning and rubbed with oil.

    Then, he tried an idea he had been thinking of for the 2nd turkey. You would have loved it!!! It was fantastic and definitly a do again. He pulled out the old crawfish boil pot and propane burner, added the turkey and then enough water to cover it about 2 to 3 inches then took the bird back out to bring water and seasonings to a boil. He put 1 cup of the liquid Louisiana Crawfish, crab & shrimp boil in the pot along with 1/4 lb of the dry boil mix (he uses Slap Ya Momma) and a couple of smaller onions. Once it came to a boil, he put the turkey back in and cooked it till it was at 160 degrees. He removed it, tented it and let it set.

    You have got to try this combo of boil with maybe a chicken or other whole poultry. The meat was juicy, tender and it went so fast! Had just a touch of spicy heat to it. He sliced it leaving the skin on but, some of us pulled it off. (Not a boiled skin lover). I want to cook a whole chicken that way. Or another turkey!!!

    We all had to be symptom free to attend and several of us have been tested for job requirement. I had to be tested due to fever every evening. I found out I have rhuematic fever again. Not contagious. I do hope you and all your loved ones are doing well.

    1. Hi Cammy! Are you sure your son doesn’t have some Cajun blood somewhere? LOL! I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve heard of this. I wonder if our friend here, Steffi, has ever tried this? Anyway, I’d love to try it but I don’t want to be the one to do all that work!!!! We did have a good Thanksgiving. Termite also air fried our turkey, but first he rubbed it down with a seasoned rub and then injected it with some kind of Cajun garlic butter. It was tasty and moist! I’m sorry you’re ill so take care and be safe out there! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

      1. Not sure if he has Cajun blood in him or not. 🙂 If he does, I didn’t know it. But, we are all looking for December to end and April to get here FAST! It’s time for some boiled CRAWFISH!!!