Grilling a turkey? Are you serious? Yeah, we know that grilling an entire turkey isn’t the most convenient way to cook the Thanksgiving bird. It is, however, one of the most fun and – more importantly – most delicious ways to cook a turkey. It requires a good know-how of how to get the job done, though, and that’s what we’re here to help with.
So what’s the process of grilling a turkey?
Regardless what type of grill you’re going to be using for your turkey, the first and foremost thing for you to do is choose a really good turkey. You’re also going to have to make sure that it’s going to fit in your grill before you actually pay for it.
Once you’ve done that, read the following instructions if you’re cooking on a gas grill, or read the second set if you’re using charcoal.
Preparing a gas grill for a turkey
First off, you’re going to want to make sure that you cover the turkey with a cheesecloth. Leave it like this for a few hours to prime it for when you’re ready to put it on the grill.
You’ll have to get the grill ready just for cooking your turkey. One of the best and tastiest ways to do this is using some wood chips. A perfect turkey mixture of wood chips I two handfuls of cherry and one of hickory, but you can decide on your own ratio yourself.
- Make sure to soak your wood chips for a while – at least half an hour, up to two hours. You can soak them in beer for extra flavor, or just use water.
- You can put the chips in a smoker if your grill has one as an attachment.
Make sure you don’t forget your drip pan. Like cooking anything on the gas grill, there’s a risk of drippings. Put a few liters of water in the drip pan and put it underneath where you’re going to cook the turkey or, if you want to save the drippings for gravy, just use one liter of water.
Get your grill ready for using indirect heat. You won’t be putting the bird over a lit burner because this would likely burn it and change the entire cooking procedure. (It’s good to remember this when placing your drip tray, as well). Preheat it for ten minutes or so.
Getting a charcoal grill ready for a turkey
Charcoal grilling is, in my opinion, a much better option for grilling a turkey. If you want the best flavor, these tips should be a good guideline to follow.
First, get your drip pan ready by taking off the grates and opening all the vents in the unit. Put the drip pan in the middle of the grate and line the sides with roughly 25 briquettes. Burn the briquettes right away for about half an hour or however long it takes for them to get a nice covering of gray ash.
Put the grate back in place and then get your turkey ready. When preparing for a gas grill, once the turkey is thawed, take the giblets and the neck off so you can drain the juices. Once drained (or not, if you prefer the juices) pat it dry.
Turn the wings in to hold the neck flap in place and tuck in the legs. Now it’s time to brush the turkey with oil and put whatever herbs or spices you typically put under the skin. Then, stick the whole thing, breast up, above the dripping pan. Leave the air vents open and close the lid.
Add 6 or 7 more to the briquettes every 45 minutes. Cooking times differ depending on the weight and size of the bird and are probably included in the packaging that it came with.
Finishing the job – on either grill
Your ultimate goal is to slowly heat the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 – some say the inner thigh should reach 180 degrees, just for certainty. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, go get one.
Check the temperature when you think you’re about halfway done, once again when you’re three-quarters done. The best place to check the temperature is on the innermost thigh and the deepest part of the breast, since they’re the furthest away from the actual heat source and the best indication of whether or not it’s cooked through.
- Cooking times will vary depending on the time of year and where you live. Canadians will have to cook a turkey in winter for a bit longer than a Texan will have to in the heat of summer. If your Turkey’s between 10 and 16 pounds it won’t take more than 2-3 hours to grill.
- Cooking times are easily found and are probably included on the bag or box you bought your turkey in and tend to be in minutes per pound.
Afterwards, let the turkey cool for about 25% of the total time you spent cooking it. This is ideal and will retain the most moisture without being too hot or too moist. You can cover it with foil while you’re letting it cool, especially if it’s outdoors, but this isn’t necessary.
The end result should be a beautiful golden turkey that’s succulent, moist, and delicious. If it’s not the best turkey you’ve made, don’t give up – just make sure to refine your technique.
Grilling a turkey isn’t the most popular way of preparing the Christmas bird, but those who have tried it agree that it’s one of the best. It takes a bit longer to prepare a grill for cooking a turkey than it does for cooking other types of meats, but it’s not too difficult. What’s more important is that it’s worthwhile.
Grilling a turkey only takes a couple hours and the reward is a bird cooked with a distinct flavor that you can’t get in a regular oven. While the preparation of the grill may take a little bit, the cook time is nothing serious, and your family will be very impressed once it’s done.