Free up some of the space in the oven this Thanksgiving and serve a grilled turkey.
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. The dinner guests have been invited, grocery lists are written, and culinary preparations have begun for one of the most glutinous days of the year. Shake up your Thanksgiving Day cooking routine and serve a grilled turkey this year.
For many years, our family has grilled the Thanksgiving turkey on a charcoal grill. I have memories of my Dad trying to keep the grill at the right temperature during the occasional windy and snowy Chicago Thanksgiving. My husband and I have kept the grilled turkey tradition alive as we celebrate the holiday at the Jersey Shore with our family.
A turkey cooked on the grill not only has a deep smoky flavor and crispy skin, it frees up the often limited oven space needed to cook the many side dishes and desserts. Either a charcoal or gas grill can be used to grill the turkey. My preference is a charcoal kettle grill.
How much turkey do I need per person?
When grilling a turkey for a crowd or just a small group, just how big a bird do you need? I good rule of thumb is about 1 pound per person if you do not want leftovers. But we always want leftovers right?! So count on 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per person so there will be plenty of turkey leftover for sandwiches, casseroles or just eating cold straight out of the fridge
How to thaw a frozen turkey
Set your holiday turkey grilling plans in motion at least a few days in advance. If the turkey is frozen, allow 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey to completely thaw in the refrigerator. For a quicker thawing method, place the frozen turkey in a cold water bath and change the water every 30 minutes. The plan on about 30 minutes per pound to thaw the turkey.
How to cook a whole grilled turkey
If using a charcoal grill, have at least a 20 pound bag of charcoal on hand. Using charcoal is my first preference. Nothing beats the smokey flavor it adds to grilled food. A charcoal Weber grill is the one I love. And one with a gas starter makes firing it up a breeze. For a gas grill, start with a full propane tank. Make sure the cooking grates of the grill are scraped clean. A disposable 9 inch by 13 inch foil pan is ideal for catching the turkey drippings. They also make a flavorful base for the gravy.
It is best to put the grill in an area that is shielded from the wind. That way an even cooking temperature can be maintained while the turkey is grilling. Ideally, the grill should be kept between 325 degrees to 350 degrees.
Having an instant read digital thermometer and a sturdy, long barbecue fork are essential. The thermometer allows you to quickly check the internal temperature of the turkey without having the lid of the grill off too long. The barbecue fork helps to remove the grilled turkey from the grill. Stick the fork into the cavity of the turkey to help lift and guide it to a carving board. I have included more detailed directions for grilling a turkey in the recipe below.
Inevitably, there are loads of dishes to conquer after a Thanksgiving feast. By grilling the centerpiece of the dinner, there will be one less pan to scrub.
Sides dishes to serve with the grilled turkey
- Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Fries
- Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce
- Orange Scented Couscous Salad with Cranberries and Maple Pecans
- Cheddar Stuffed Potatoes
Free up some of the space in the oven this Thanksgiving. Head outdoors and cook up a grilled turkey on either a charcoal or gas grill.
- 12 – 15 pound turkey
- 2 lemons cut in half
- 6 whole peeled garlic cloves
- About 1 cup of fresh herbs including thyme (sage, parsley)
- 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 9 inch by 13 inch foil drip pan
- Indirect grilling is the cooking method that will be used to grill the turkey.
- For the charcoal grill, open the cooking vents and remove the cooking grate. Place a drip pan in the center of the charcoal grate. Line each long side of the pan with about 25 briquettes. Light and burn the charcoal until covered with grey ash or about 20 to 30 minutes. Return the cooking grate to the grill.
- For the gas grill, remove the cooking grate and place the drip pan directly on the lava rocks or grilling bars. Replace the cooking grate and turn on the grill for indirect grilling for about 15 minutes.
- To prepare the turkey, remove the giblets and neck from the inside of the turkey. Place the lemons, garlic cloves and fresh herbs inside the turkey. Brush the turkey with the melted butter and generously season with salt and pepper.
- If the legs are not trussed together, either tie them with kitchen twine or tuck them under the bird. Place the turkey breast side up on the cooking grate over the drip pan of either the charcoal or gas grill and cover with the lid. Turn the gas grill down to about 350 degrees.
- For the charcoal grill, add 5 to 6 briquettes every 45 minutes to keep the grilling temperature constant.
- The turkey will take about 11 to 13 minutes to cook per pound. The total grilling time for a 10 to 15 pound turkey will be 2 to 3 ¼ hours. The turkey is done when it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from the grill to a carving board and tent with foil. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving it.
Grilling a turkey saves on oven space when it is at a premium during the holidays.
Before you start grilling, make sure you have a 20 pound bag of charcoal if using a charcoal grill or a full tank of propane gas if using a gas grill.
- Category: Entree
- Method: Grill
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: about 6 to 8 ozs
- Calories: 214
- Sugar: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 150 mg
- Fat: 9.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
- Unsaturated Fat: ) g
- Trans Fat: 0 G
- Carbohydrates: 1.2 g
- Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 29.5 g
- Cholesterol: 101 mg
Keywords: grilled turkey, grilled turkey recipe