Turkey Tips: Grilled, Smoked or Deep-Fried Article - Allrecipes.com
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How to Grill a Turkey

Feeling adventurous? Try smoking or grilling your Thanksgiving turkey.

Smoked Turkey

One of the benefits of smoking a turkey is that it's almost impossible to overcook anything in a smoker. The temperature remains low and the cooking is slow, resulting in perfectly moist and tender meat with a rich, complex flavor.

Watch: How to Smoke a Turkey

Smoked Turkey Tools

Besides a smoker, there are a few other things you'll need to smoke your turkey:

  • A large pan
  • An accurate meat thermometer
  • Wood chips--any kind of fruit wood, such as apple or cherry, complements turkey very well, but hickory, pecan, and maple will be equally good

If you're smoking a whole bird, we recommended that you choose one weighing no more than about 15 pounds--large turkeys take too long to heat all the way through.

If you choose a frozen turkey, it should be thoroughly thawed before you begin. 

Be sure to remove all the giblets and gizzards from the turkey, as well as the plastic pop-up thermometer.


To add even more flavor to your turkey:

  • Try brining: while not an essential part of smoking a turkey, soaking in brine before cooking gives the meat maximum flavor and juiciness.
  • Rub bird with oil or butter for crispy and evenly browned skin.
  • Apply a dry rub just before smoking. (If you have brined the turkey, you should not use any salt in the dry rub).

Unfortunately, you can't stuff a smoked turkey. Make your stuffing separately in the oven.

Smoking Your Turkey

Once you have prepped your turkey, you are ready to begin smoking:

  • Place turkey in the pan, breast-side up.
  • Insert the meat thermometer deep into the thigh, being careful not to touch the bone or joints.
  • Run your smoker at 240 degrees F (115 degrees C).
  • Allow 30 minutes of cooking time per pound of meat. 
  • Baste the turkey with its own juices a few times during smoking, but avoid opening the smoker too often; you will lose heat and increase the cooking time.

When the thermometer reads 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) , pull the bird out of the smoker and let it rest at least 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

    Grilled Turkey

    Don't have a smoker? Use your charcoal grill. A 12-pound turkey is the largest that will fit most grills.

    Grilled Turkey Tools

    To grill your turkey, you'll need:

    • Good-quality charcoal briquettes: about 20 pounds
    • Disposable aluminum roasting pan
    • Soaked wood chips, if desired
    • An accurate meat thermometer
    • Tongs and heavy-duty oven mitts
    • Recommended: a thermometer on your grill or deep-fat frying thermometer placed through the vent on the grill's lid


    Follow the instructions above for Smoked Turkey.


    Essentially, you'll be using your grill as an outdoor oven: you want a moderate, even temperature rather than searing heat. Arrange the coals on one side of the grill only--you will use the empty side for the drip-pan. When the coals are covered with white ash, add a handful of damp wood chips. Add more wood chips any time you add more charcoal.

    • Lightly oil the grill's grate. Brush the skin of the turkey with oil or rub it with butter to prevent it from sticking.
    • Set a disposable aluminum roasting pan next to the hot coals. This will catch drippings and prevent flare-ups.
    • Adjust the grill's vents so they are open halfway.
    • Many recipes suggest roasting the turkey in a second disposable pan, adding water, wine or aromatics to the roasting pan for basting.
    • If your grill is outfitted with a thermometer (or you have inserted a deep-fat frying thermometer through the vent), check it. Aim for 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), but don't get hung up on a perfect and constant reading.
    • Roast the turkey until the thigh meat registers 165 degrees F (75 degrees C). This may take two to three hours or longer, depending upon the heat of the fire and size of the turkey.
    • Avoid opening the lid; conserve heat. Rotate the turkey as necessary for even cooking.

      Deep-Fried Turkey

      For succulent, juicy meat and crispy skin, try deep frying your turkey this year.

      Nov. 16, 2009 7:13 am
      I grill my turkey every year and about half way through the grilling time I turn the turkey over, very carefully of course. It seems to cook much more evenly and really disburse the juices and flavor.
      Nov. 21, 2009 11:49 am
      If smoking, or grilling with chips, expect a dark appearing bird. My guests are surprised; but, after tasting, nothing is left behind but the bones.
      Nov. 23, 2009 5:04 am
      We have a gas grill....can you give me any help on grilling a turkey on a gas grill! Thanks, Sharon
      Nov. 23, 2009 5:55 am
      i grilled two6lb. chickens to test for the turkey. starting withn breast down then turnig over to finish keeps the whole bird moist. remember to cover and let it rest as it will dry out if you carve it to soon. approx. 2o min. seasonings very be iventive.
      Nov. 23, 2009 5:59 am
      sharon: use same method for charcoal grill with the drip pan. adjust your heat to 350+/-. you'll do just fine! also weber grill .com has some very helpful ways to cook turkey on a gas grill!
      JEFFREYin HUSKERnation 
      Nov. 26, 2009 8:08 am
      For the past 5 years, I've been brining in apple cider & 7-up. You can add honey , mesquite flavor or anything else. I use a "Phoenix" propane grill (One of the best!") Put my bird in a pan, ona a rack, never turning, & do the stuffing & basting tricks, then Voi-la!!! Awesome bird Everytime!!! Yummmy! Family loves it every year as to Grandma's baked bird. Sorry Grandma!
      Dec. 19, 2009 11:03 am
      Has anyone ever did a 20 lb turkey on your Weber gas grill?
      Jan. 1, 2010 2:33 am
      We have smoked our Christmas every year since I was a child & can confidently say that comment about not being able to have stuffing with a smoked turkey is nonsense. Place the stuffing under the skin rather than the tradition cavity however.
      Feb. 5, 2010 2:49 pm
      I did 2 16lb turkeys on my gas grill and they turned out great. I would cut the cooking time by 1/3. grill acted like a convection oven.
      Mar. 14, 2010 11:46 am
      To reduce the smokiness,try spreading REAL mayonaise all over top of bird.AT start & aprox. every 20 minutes or so till done.meat will be super juicy & tender.Have friend who hates mayo,but raves about my turkey on the grill.Don't worry,can't even taste the mayo.
      Apr. 13, 2010 8:31 am
      Every summer I end up grilling about 4 turkey's on my gas barbie... I put mine on my rotisserie and let it do the turning for me. A 10lb turkey is the max as the rotisserie motor won't handle a larger one. I put some cut up carrot, onion, celery garlic and seasoning in the cavity before putting it on the rotisserie, then I centre the turkey on my rotisserie rod and put in the spikes to hold the bird in place, I tie the turkey up with butchers twine so there are no parts flopping around to be burned. I lightly spice the outside with whatever spices I have on hand. I put a drip pan under the turkey and start the barbie using the back burner only. I cook it on high for about 30 minutes and reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook for about another 3 - 3 1/2 hrs. The turkey bastes itself in it's own juices. About 20 minutes before the turkey is cooked I baste with a mixture of BBQ sauce, Port and a dash of liguid smoke. The meat is very juicy and tender. My family and friends go
      Sep. 24, 2010 8:32 pm
      If you are using a real smoker (example: masterbuilt, etc) you may want to try injecting the turkey first with a salt water mixture. Let set for 2 days in fridge. Inject a second time with a water and honey or maple syrop mix, etc. Smoke for about 16hrs at 180 degrees (22lb turkey). Use a meat thermometer to judge according to weight (deepest part at 160-180 degrees should be fully cooked). You can finish on BBQ to crisp the skin but skin is usually a little tough. This is the best smoked turkey I have ever eaten. Extra left over meat is easy to freeze and use in a smoked turkey soup or salad. Enjoy !!!
      Windridge Farm 
      Nov. 17, 2010 4:39 am
      I grill our turkey every year on a Weber kettle grill. I place a large dutch oven directly under the center of the grill and block it up so that the top of the oven just touches the bottom of the grill. I fill it with water and put the lid on and then pour a full 20lb bag of briquets all around the oven. Once the coals are ready, I remove the lid and add spices to the water, usually sage and whole black pepper. I have found that I can get an 18lb turkey on the grill. I use a wireless thermometer so I don't have to remove the lid and about halfway through the process I sometimes add some red wine to the water. If the legs stick out over the side of the oven I put foil under them. The turkey comes out incredibly moist, slightly smoky, and imbued with whatever spices are in the water. Great taste and a great way to free the kitchen oven for other things!
      Nov. 19, 2010 4:49 am
      I smoke mine every year. I soak it in a rum brine for 24 hours before I smoke it. Smoke it with pecan wood, and throw some pecans on the fire every hour or so. Use a fruit stuffing in the cavity to make a sweet turkey that compliments my brother's deep fried habanero turkey perfectly. I always do breast side down, as I don't care how it looks before I carve it up, and makes for a juicier turkey. 300 degrees for about 5 hours for a 12 pounder!
      Nov. 21, 2010 7:41 pm
      I have a vertical 55 gal drum, homemade barbecue. Does any one have an idea how long it will take to cook a 37lb turkey, unstuffed in it. I repeat 37lbs. Thanks in advance
      Dec. 26, 2010 2:59 pm
      To Lovin' Life Foodie To smoke on a gas grill get one side hot (on high). The other side low.Put turkey in pan with a rack. Put water in pan cook over high heat uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Move turkey to other side on low for 6 plus hours just watch temp.
      Apr. 26, 2011 11:03 am
      for 8 years I have brined the turkey in cajun (Emeril's recipe) last year smoked 3 turkeys, in a Bradley. needed to be turned around half way thru and I now only use 12 smoker biscuits, when they burn out they burn out. first turkey way to smokey using biscuits for full 8 hours,and it wasn't cooked on one side. 3rd turkey was perfect.
      May 14, 2011 9:42 am
      I use a Charbroil Big Easy RSG (roaster, smoker, grill) for my turkey. I also have a turkey beer can holder and it turns out fantastic. The one and only BBQ you will ever need.
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