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How to Grill a Turkey

First time smoking a turkey in a grill. I need to know how that is done, from start to finish.

It couldn't be much simpler. But you need a grill with a lid and one large enough to cook the turkey of your choice by indirect heat. That is, the source of heat — coals or gas burner — needs to be roaring away on one side of the grill, while the turkey reclines in a foil roasting pan on the other. We'll give you a few tips before providing a very straightforward recipe.

A good first step is to make sure you have enough fuel. Just as in an oven, a large turkey can take 4 hours or more to cook. We have been told that a full tank of propane lasts 17 to 18 hours, so your tank needs to be at least a quarter full to allow a margin of comfort to cook a large turkey.

If your turkey is not yet thawed, you'll have plenty of time to refill the propane canister or pick up a few more bags of charcoal. Thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, which will take a full day for each 4 pounds. We find it useful to set it on a large platter in the refrigerator, as the wrapping sometimes leaks and the platter will save you from having to clean up a mess.

You're not going to stuff the turkey and cook it on a grill. If you want stuffing, prepare it separately, and cook it in a covered foil pan beside the turkey on the grill, also with indirect heat, during the last 45 to 60 minutes of grilling time. The stuffing needs to reach an internal temperature of 165F (74C) to be done.

The turkey is fully cooked when an instant-read thermometer registers 165F in the thigh or 170F (77C) in the breast. The cooking time will be about 11 to 13 minutes per pound. It can take much longer on cold or windy days, at high altitudes, or if you insist on taking the lid off every 10 minutes to see how it's doing.

Grilled Turkey


1 oven-ready turkey
1 Tbsp oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs, rub, or seasoning to taste

For gravy:

1/2 cup flour or 1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups chicken stock or milk


Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. Turn the wings back to hold neck skin in place. Return legs to tucked position. Brush the turkey with oil. Season with salt and pepper, inside and out.

Place the turkey, breast side up, on a wire rack in a large heavy-gauge foil pan. Place the pan on the grill, away from the source of heat. Close the lid. Cook for 11 to 13 minutes per pound, until the turkey registers an internal temperature of 165F (74C) in the thigh and 170F (77C) in the breast. Remove the turkey from grill and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Note: To collect drippings for making gravy, pour a little water into the foil pan. Replenish the water as needed to keep the drippings from burning. Remove pan from beneath the turkey about 30 minutes before the bird should be done and make gravy. (Continue cooking the turkey directly on the cooking grate).

To make the gravy, remove all but 1/4 cup of the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup flour or 1/4 cup cornstarch into the fat and drippings. Whisk over low heat until smooth, and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of liquid (stock, cooking water from the boiled giblets, or milk). Stirring constantly, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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Related Articles:
Smoking a Turkey
Using Rubs on a Soon-To-Be-Smoked Turkey
To Stuff or Not to Stuff a Turkey
Cooking a Turkey in an Electric Roaster
Slow-Roasting a Frozen Turkey
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Maw's Thanksgiving Turkey
Maria Eugenia Cerqueira Da Mota's Roast Stuffed Turkey
Herbed Roast Turkey
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