Thanksgiving Grilled Turkey
Thanksgiving Grilled Turkey is our Favorite here at the Party Bluprints Blog. To kick off November, Elizabeth is sharing her Father’s recipe for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey!
My father has always loved to grill. He would experiment with different types of wood chips, techniques, meats and poultry. When I was in high school, he decided to smoke our Thanksgiving Turkey on the grill. We take our Thanksgiving Feast very seriously and there was a bit of discussion on risking the outcome of our Thanksgiving Turkey on the grill. My father’s plan prevailed and after “strategizing” on the perfect smoking technique for the grill, he delivered the most delicious turkey we had ever tasted.
He has continued this tradition over the years and groomed us in carrying on this tradition (my children got involved too – they LOVE Grandpa’s Grilled Turkey.) This year we celebrated Thanksgiving early when my parents were up north visiting and my father and I tag teamed the turkey (I can’t leave my mom out – she cleaned out the turkey, thanks Mom!) – best tasting and looking turkey EVER!
We’ve shared this technique with others over the years and people are still talking about the year they grilled the turkey (many, including me, tell the story of smoking one turkey on the grill and roasting the traditional one in the oven in order to have enough turkey to feed all their guests – the result is always the same, the grilled turkey “smoked” the traditional one!)
So I’m sharing my Dad’s tried-and-true technique (you will need a gas grill with at least 2 separate burners.) Once you and your guests get a whiff of the smoking’ turkey, it’s sure to become a new Thanksgiving tradition.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family and me! – Elizabeth
“Remember to be safe when cooking your Thanksgiving dinner! Check out Foodsafety.gov for tips!” or “Keep your guests safe when entertaining – check out Foodsafety.gov for tips!”
Check out this delicious Thanksgiving stuffing recipe!
Grandpa’s Smoked Turkey On The Grill
Materials and Ingredients
- 1 fresh turkey*, cleaned out (make sure to remove pouch of “innards” from cavity)
- 6 tbsp. butter, softened
- 4 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 bunch thyme
- 2 carrot sticks
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 apple sliced in half
- 2 cups mesquite wood chips**
- Aluminum foil – heavy duty
- Heavy-duty aluminum pan
- Smoker box – optional
Grilled Turkey Instructions
- Soak wood chips in water overnight. If you don’t have a smoker box for the wood chips, prepare foil packets by placing drained wood chips on large square of foil, roll foil to make a packet leaving one end open – this will serve as a chimney piping smoke into grill, continue making packets until all chips are used.
- Prepare grill before lighting. You are going to light only one side of your grill and place your turkey on the other side (the turkey side is to remain unlit through entire cooking time.) On the turkey side, remove grate and place heavy-duty aluminum pan on bottom of grill – fill 1/3 of the way with water, replace grate – this is to catch drippings to make gravy (our grill doesn’t allow for this – so we put turkey on a rack in aluminum pan and filled with an inch or so of water, you don’t want turkey sitting in water.) Place packet of wood chips on other side of grill with open end facing turkey side of grill, light this side and preheat grill to 325 degrees.
- Prepare turkey rub – mix salt, pepper, chili and cayenne pepper, set aside. Remove cleaned turkey from refrigerator. Fill cavity with carrots, celery, apple and herbs. Rub outside of turkey with butter and coat with turkey rub. Place turkey, breast side up, on unheated side of grill, close top and cook approximately 15-18 minutes/lb. – our turkey was 12 lbs. so we smoked it for 3 hrs. and then let it sit for about 30 minutes before slicing it. Important note: if you live in a colder climate, the tricky part can be the temperature outside. The colder it is, the harder it may be to get the temperature to 325 degrees, requiring additional cooking time because the grill temperature will never get as high as it needs to. If your grill does not have a built-in thermometer, place one inside the grill by the turkey. Check your turkey about every 45 minutes – 1 hour; keep an eye on the temperature so you can adjust cooking time accordingly. Also keep an eye on the liquid level in your drippings pan, if it is getting too low, add more water to keep at 1/3 full.) If your turkey is browning too much, cover that area with aluminum foil. Turkey must reach internal temperature of 165 degrees – insert meat thermometer parallel to turkey into meatiest part of thigh. A good crosscheck is to make sure juices run clear when you cut into turkey.
- When turkey reaches a minimum of 165 degrees, remove from grill to large platter and tent with aluminum foil. Allow turkey to rest for 30-40 minute
- Turn off grill and using oven mitts carefully remove aluminum pan and pour drippings into a pot (see below for Grandma’s Grilled Turkey Gravy recipe – you’ll use drippings from aluminum pan to make the most delicious gravy you’ve ever had.)
*When selecting a turkey, we stick within a 14-18 lb. range to make sure the cover of the grill will close. Since we typically host 25-30 guests, we need more turkey than this so we roast another turkey in the oven.
**You can also use another “lighter wood” such as Apple Cherry wood chips or whatever flavor you chose, just don’t use anything too “heavy”.
and here’s a BONUS Grandma’s Smoked Turkey Gravy
- 1 cup turkey drippings
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- A few drops Gravy Master (optional – deepens color)
- Empty turkey drippings from aluminum pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch and gravy master. Turn down to low boil and continue whisking until thickened and smooth.
- Note: You can also simmer neck and tail (it comes in a pouch in the cavity of the turkey – when you clean out the turkey, rinse off and place in pot with two cups of water with onion, carrot, salt and pepper.) Simmer for an hour and use to supplement turkey drippings to yield more gravy.