Here are a few tips to successfully grilling a whole turkey:
- Truss your turkey! No need for complicated French trussing. Just tuck the wings under the bird, use a couple toothpicks or a small skewer to close the skin over the opening to the cavity, and tie the legs together. Trussing keeps the wings and legs close to the body and helps to prevent the meat from drying out and to ensure that your turkey will cook evenly. Plus it makes for a better presentation!
- Remove the all of the meat in sections before carving, even if you are not serving it all. Leaving it sit on the bone, will keep it cooking (carryover heat) and it will begin to dry out.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the leg (thigh and drumstick) in one piece. The leg section should be fairly loose if the turkey is cooked through; cut through the skin and push the leg toward the cutting board and you should see the joint that joins the leg to the body. Cut through the joint.
- Starting at the breast bone, cut along the bone and rib cage to remove the breast and wing in one piece;
- Cut through the leg joint and separate the thigh and drumstick, cut the wing away from the breast, then slice the breast across the grain of the meat. Repeat with the other side of the turkey.
- If you are brining your turkey, monitor the browning. Brined turkeys brown faster.
- Grill set up: indirect cooking over medium-low heat (300° to 350°F). Place the pan so it is not directly over any heat. Close the grill cover and cook until the skin is nicely browned and the juices at the thigh run clear.
- Timing: about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound).
- To test for doneness, the temperature of the thigh, away from the bone, should be 170°F and the breast should be between 155° to 160°F. Remember – carryover cooking will continue to raise the temperature of the turkey another 5° to 10° after it comes off the grill.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!
Main photo credit: Heather Winters
Chad Sublet says
How would one cook a turkey on the rotiserie?
Jeff Parker says
Hey there Chad!
Cooking your turkey on the rotisserie is a great way to go. Start with a smallish bird, say 12 to 14 pounds to be sure that it fits in the grill and is not too heavy for the spit. I would suggest brining your turkey to ensure that that your hard work yields a moist, juicy and tender turkey. Season the turkey inside and out. Add a few aromatics loosely to the cavity (herbs, garlic, onion slice, lemon slices, celery, etc.) and then truss the turkey. The trussing does not need to be complicated – tie the legs together with butcher’s twine, then wrap around and secure the wings snugly to the body. This will help the turkey cook evenly.
You’re going to use indirect heat. I would remove the grill grates so you have plenty of room. Place a drip pan large enough to fit beneath the whole bird. It is ok to set the drip pan directly on the heat shields of the unlit burners. Pour 4 cups of water or chicken stock in the drip pan to help keep the bird moist and also so the pan dripping do not dry up. Light the outer burners to medium – you want the heat to hang around 325- to 350 degrees F. Skewer the turkey with the spit and be sure to get it centered and well-balanced on the spit. Secure the turkey with the spit tines and screw them down tight. Place the turkey on the rotisserie, start the motor and close the cover. The cooking times will be similar to that of a 350 degree F oven so use the time chart on the turkey packaging as a guide. You will need to use an instant read thermometer to be sure of doneness. Remove rotisserie turkey from grill when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees at the breast and 175 degrees F at the thigh away from the bone. (The carryover heat from cooking will raise the temperature another 5 to 10 degrees while the turkey rests.) Transfer turkey and spit to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Remove the spit from the turkey and carve.
Note: If for some reason the turkey isn’t as golden as you would like, turn on the infra red rotisserie burner to high, open the lid and let it go a couple minutes until the color is the way you like. Conversely, if your turkey is browning too quickly. stop the motor and loosely wrap the turkey with foil then resume cooking.
I hope this helps! Grill yourself a fantastic turkey and be sure to write back and let me know what you did and how it went.
Cheers and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Chad Sublet says
This is great, thanks! I will let you know how it turns out!