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3 ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey on the grill

3 ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey on the grill

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How to cook a turkey on the grill

Whether you’re looking to free up precious oven space for Thanksgiving sides or an opportunity to step outside the overcrowded kitchen, cooking your turkey on the grill is a great way to shake things up. (See also: one of our favorite recipes for smoked turkey) These three Thanksgiving turkey recipes are a breath of fresh air (literally) that will have your mouth watering.

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How to smoke a turkey

This smoked Turkey recipe can be made on a charcoal kamado grill for a unique yet classic smoky flavor that’s a fresh take on a traditional Thanksgiving dish.


  • Whole turkey (12-16 lbs)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion cut in two halves
  • 1 handful of celery tops
  • ½ bottle of dry white wine

Dry Rub ingredients:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp. onion salt
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. chili powder


  1. Slide your hand gently between the breast and the skin of the turkey to separate the skin, being careful to not tear. Apply a gentle sprinkling of the rub under the skin and all over the exterior of the turkey.
  2. After applying the dry rub, load the turkey onto the rack, place a drip tray underneath. Within the drip tray, you’ll have the white wine, carrot, onion halves, and celery tops.
  3. Set your kamado grill up for indirect cooking by either placing heat deflector stones between the fire and the cooking grates or taking advantage of a higher cooking grate if you have a kamado grill that’s already set up for indirect cooking. Don’t forget to make sure your wood chips and charcoal are ready to go before putting in your heat deflector plates if using them.
  4. Stabilize the cooking temperature at 350°F and smoke your turkey over the maple wood chips for approximately 12 minutes per pound. Use a temperature probe to check that the temperature in both the breast and the thigh is 165°F.
  5. Let your turkey rest for a couple of hours before carving so that it continues to absorb the flavors and juices. You can use the white wine and vegetables from the drip tray as a gravy if you’d like.
  6. Carve, serve & enjoy!
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How to cook a rotisserie turkey on the grill

With a rotisserie grill, or a rotisserie grill attachment, you’ll be able to cook up this rotisserie grilled Turkey recipe, which is packed with festive flavor. 


  • Whole turkey (12-14 lbs)
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for the turkey
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Stuffing (see below)
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 16 cups cubed stale white bread

Special equipment:

A rotisserie attachment for a grill; butcher's twine; a 9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum pan or half-sheet pan; an instant-read thermometer


  1. Prepare a grill fitted with a rotisserie attachment according to the manufacturer's instructions for cooking over medium-high heat.
  2. Truss the turkey with butcher’s twine so it is compact, then mount the turkey on the rotisserie spit. Push in the spit forks so they are very secure and make sure the wingnuts are tight so the turkey doesn't shift during cooking.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, about 450°F. Prepare a stack of disposable foil roasting pans (about 2 or 3 pans) stacked together.
  4. Mix together the sugar, paprika, 2 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. pepper in a small bowl until combined. Rub the turkey all over with oil and sprinkle with the seasoning. Place the spit on the rotisserie.
  5. If using a large kettle-style charcoal grill, position a 9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum pan under the turkey. If you are using a multi-burner gas grill, position a 9-by-13-inch disposable aluminum pan or a half-sheet pan under the turkey, depending on the clearance between the bird and the grill grates.
  6. Cover the grill and cook until the skin starts to brown slightly, about 20 minutes. Uncover the grill, drizzle the turkey slowly with the melted butter as it turns, then cover the grill and continue to cook for another 40 minutes. While you wait, prepare the stuffing (see stuffing instructions below).
  7. After the turkey has been roasting, uncover the grill and carefully spoon the stuffing into the pan under the turkey. Cover the grill and continue to cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F and the stuffing is golden on top and hot throughout, another 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the turkey from the spit and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. Keep the stuffing warm until ready to serve.
  9. Carve, serve & enjoy!

For the stuffing: 

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sage, thyme, celery, onions, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  • Beat the eggs with the parsley in a large bowl. Add the bread, then pour in the vegetable-broth mixture and toss to combine.
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How to roast a turkey on the grill

Cook up this grilled turkey recipe on your classic gas grill for a dish that’s loaded with flavor, while also incredibly moist and easy to make.


  • Whole turkey (12-14 lbs)
  • 2 onions, halved
  • 2 to 3 lemons, sliced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, top sliced off
  • 1 large bunch of fresh herbs, including sage, thyme, rosemary
  • 8 to 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • dried herbs, like sage, thyme and rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 2 large aluminum roasting pans


  1. Remove the turkey from the fridge about an hour before grilling. Make sure the grill’s propane tank is full and that you have a backup.
  2. Preheat the grill to 500°F and clean grates. Turn down burners on center grates to Low for indirect grilling. The outside burners should be set to medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast-side up. Fill the cavity with 1 halved onion, 1 lemon, the garlic bulb, and fresh herbs. Tie the legs loosely together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings under the turkey.
  4. Rub the turkey all over with the softened butter. Sprinkle it with the salt and the pepper, dried herbs, and paprika.
  5. Pour 1 to 2 cups chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the remaining lemon wedges and onions.
  6. Place the roasting pan on the grill and and turn the center burner to medium-low. Close the grill, and allow to roast for 2.5 to 3 hours. The temperature should be around 425 to 450°F during cook time.
  7. Check the turkey periodically and baste juices from the bottom of the pan. Add more chicken stock as needed.
  8. At the end of the cooking time, check the internal temperature using a digital meat thermometer until it reaches 180°F in the thigh.
  9. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Carve, serve & enjoy!
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The perks of learning how to cook a turkey on the grill

Who says you can’t spice up the Thanksgiving menu? The secret ingredients? A kamado grill (for smoked Turkey recipes) and gas grill (for classic—and not so classic—grilled Turkey recipes).

Bonus: cooking the Turkey outside frees up precious oven space. Add moisture and flavor with grilled turkey recipes, or add a burst of barbecue flavor with smoked turkey recipes. Don’t forget to periodically clean your grill to keep it in tip-top shape.

What are your favorite smoked turkey recipes?