Grilled Whole Turkey

Chef's notes:

The grill has become a symbol of America, much like the turkey. It stands to reason that we should put the two together and grill a turkey. However, it can be tricky, and truth be told, I kind of messed this one up. I forgot that stuffing the cavity can drastically slow the cooking process. About halfway through the grilling of this turkey, I removed what I had stuffed inside. So, even though in the pictures there is clearly stuff inside the turkey, don’t stuff your turkey if you want to eat it this century! Trust me.


  • 13 pound turkey
  • Turkey Brine

Grilled Turkey Recipe: Whole Turkey Brined and then Grilled and Smoked on a Weber Kettle Grill

  1. Brine the turkey the day before. Especially for grilling and smoking, you will want to brine your turkey the day before cooking. Here’s a recipe for Turkey Brine. The brine will keep the turkey from getting dry as it cooks on the grill. It will also add a lot of your choice of flavoring. Be sure that the brine stays around 40 degrees F the whole time.
  2. Prep the turkey for grilling. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with disposable paper towels. If you decide not to brine your turkey, season it inside and out with salt and pepper and anything else you choose. Clearly have stuffed the inside of this turkey, but remember my warning, and don’t stuff the turkey when cooking this way. It just causes too many problems, and will delay cooking time by 1–2 hours.
  3. Prep the grill for grilling a turkey. Take a disposable pie tin and put it in the middle of the grill. Then get some charcoal going, either in a charcoal chimney or in the grill. Surround the pie tin with charcoal. I used a processed charcoal because they burn longer. I also opted for the briquettes with mesquite chips to give the turkey a smoky flavor. Put the turkey in the very middle, on top of the pie tin. Turn the vents on the bottom and top of the grill to low, and put the lid on.
  4. Keep checking the turkey as it's cooking. It will take 3–4 hours for a 13 pound turkey if you keep the fires low and only add a few briquettes at a time. About every 30 minutes, I added 7 briquettes to each side. After 2 hours, start checking the temperature of the turkey. If it’s cooking too fast, shut the vents down even more. If it’s cooking too slowly, add more briquettes and open the vents a little. Once the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, remove it from the grill. Allow it to rest for 45 minutes before eating.

Tips & Tricks

  • Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator 3 days before cooking. The fridge is the safest place and way to thaw a turkey.
  • Brine the turkey the day before you grill it to ensure that it stays juicy and delicious.
  • Don’t stuff the turkey with anything, because the inside will stay raw for hours and hours. Even if the turkey was on fire.
  • If you like smoky flavors, add mesquite or hickory chips to the grill, or buy charcoal briquettes with chips in them. They work very well.
  • The more closed the vents, the smokier the turkey will become. This is because you will be smoldering the fire and creating more smoke. Be careful you don’t put the fire out by closing the vents too much.
  • Keep checking the fire and the internal temperature as you grill about every 30 minutes.
  • Let the turkey rest for 45 minutes before you carve it.