We’ve been cooking whole turkey on the grill for years. In fact, I learned how from my Dad, Larry Adams back in the 70’s. Since he didn’t have a blog, I guess it’s up to me to post this for the world to see.
Go to the store and buy the turkey a few days in advance (or better yet, raise your own!). Make sure it’s thawed well before putting it on the grill. The one pictured below is about 20 pounds. Try to get one that is broad-chested, but not too “tall”. That way the grill cover will definitely close without touching the turkey.
Take everything out of the cavity.
Next, pour some oil right on the turkey.
Now, rub the oil all over the bird. Add more oil if necessary. Keep rubbing until you start getting excited. Then rub some more! Just remember to stop when it’s thoroughly covered.
Add the seasoning of your choice. No need for very much seasoning – this cooking method brings out the awesome flavor of the turkey. A little Sea Salt and maybe Garlic Salt and some Pepper should be sufficient.
I prefer the Weber One-Touch charcoal grill.
The Weber Grill allows you to close the vents and choke the coals out when you’re finished cooking. That allows you to recycle charcoal. Leftover charcoal stays dry even in the worst weather with the lid on and vents closed.
Add the “used” charcoal to the bottom of the chimney. Then fill it up with new charcoal.
Crumple up a couple full newspaper pieces and put them in the bottom of the chimney.
Light the newspaper!
Now go pour the beverage of your choice and relax. The coals should be ready in about 25 to 30 minutes depending on wind and humidity. You know the coals are ready when the top pieces get a little gray on them. I think I let this one go a little too long (it was a good beverage!), so I had to add a few fresh charcoal briquettes to the top to compensate.
Now set the chimney aside for a minute and prepare the grill. Make sure any ashes from previous cooking are cleaned out and that the bottom vents are open for good air flow. Put in the side rails to hold the charcoal to either side.
Carefully pour the charcoal from the chimney on both sides of the rails. This is for cooking indirectly.
Put an aluminum pan in the middle. This will catch the drippings so you can make gravy. It also keeps the bottom of your grill clean!
Now put the cooking grate on. Make sure the handles are over the coals so you can add charcoal later.
Place the turkey directly on the cooking grate, right over the aluminum pan.
Put the cover on the grill. Make sure the vents are wide open for proper air flow.
Now it’s time to pour another beverage of your choice. Total cooking time is about 12 minutes per pound. No peeking except when you add charcoal every hour. Here’s what it looked like after one hour (and it smelled soooo good!). I added 8 pieces of charcoal on each side at the end of each hour cooking.
Lookin’ good after 2 hours!
This turkey is done! Notice the red pop-up on the left side. That means the meat has reached about 185 degrees. If your turkey doesn’t come with a pop-up, just use a meat thermometer. Time to take it off and let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing. Make sure you rescue the aluminum pan with the drippings so you can make some delicious gravy.
After letting the turkey cool for at least 10 minutes, go ahead and slice it up. This turkey cooked faster than anticipated, so we let it sit covered for nearly 45 minutes while finishing up all the fixins (and for all the guests to arrive!). It was still nice and moist when we ate it.
Reference: Here’s a link to the Charcoal Grill Owners Guide that comes with the Weber Grills.
Page 11 has instructions for cooking with the indirect method. Page 14 has the turkey recipe.
In my humble opinion, the turkey prepared this way is outstanding. It’s always moist with an almost unnoticeable smoky flavor. It also requires very little work while it’s cooking – just add a few pieces of charcoal once an hour. No basting or anything like that. Oh, and the gravy is out of this world (at least the way Carol makes it!)
Enjoy! As always, your comments are welcome.