How to Cook Turkey on the Grill

Everyone knows to cook their Thanksgiving turkey in the oven. What if you switched up the cooking method cook turkey on the grill and wow your guests with a flavorful, smokey, and crispy turkey with the perfect amount of char on the skin.

Cooking the turkey on Grill vs. Oven

cook Turkey in the oven

Now there is nothing particularly wrong with cooking your turkey in the oven. The oven produces great results with the proper brine, marinade, and stuffing and can leave you with a nice and juicy turkey for dinner. Ovens are consistent, easy to set up and allow you to stay inside while the cooking gets done.

A grill, on the other hand, can provide the same consistency of heat. Still, because of the properties of the grill construction, a more smokey complex flavor can be developed on the turkey, adding to the overall flavor profile of the bird. An adequately set up grill for cooking will give you that distinct “BBQ flavor” on top of the brine, marinade, and stuffing.

What you need:

  • Turkey (make sure it fits in your grill!)
  • A Grill
  • Soaked wood chips (to develop an extra layer of smokiness)
  • Drip Tray

Grill Set-up

The process will slightly differ depending on if you are using a gas or charcoal grill, but you want to set up the grill for indirect heat either way. This would mean igniting and moving the hot coals to one side, leaving a cooking area without a heat source under it for a charcoal grill. With a gas grill, you want to switch on the burners on one side only, with your cooking area being over the burners that are not on.

Close the lid and let the grill heat up anywhere from 350-425 degrees or what your average oven temperature would be. This is where the grill can act like an oven. Providing consistent indirect heat is how a grill can provide the same cooking capabilities as a traditional oven.

We start to develop the more complex flavors is to adding the soaked wood chips(your choice of water, beer, or other alcohols) to the grill’s heat source to start a smoking process. If you have a charcoal grill, just add the wood chips directly to the coals, but you will need a smoker tray if you have a gas grill.

The Cooking

cook Turkey on the Grill

Take your marinated and defrosted turkey and put it on the indirect heat of your grill. You can place the turkey in a baking tray or have it on a rotisserie to turn the turkey while it constantly smokes.

Under the turkey, you want to have a drip tray set up to catch all the drippings. Add about 2-3 liters of water for easy dripping removal and cleanup. If you plan to use some of the drippings to add to gravy, only use about 1-1.5 liters of water in your drip tray.

Let your turkey cook with the lid closed. You have to be patient Be patient because every time the lid is lifted, the grill will lose heat. Check up on the turkey periodically until the interior temperature of the turkey is at least 165 degrees throughout. Serve the turkey with some grilled vegetables for the perfect meal. 

cook Turkey on the Grill

Once the turkey is cooked to perfection, be sure to let it rest for about 20-30% of the total time is spent cooking. Letting the turkey rest will allow its juices and flavors to continue to develop and absorb into the meat, leaving you with juicy cuts of turkey instead of spilling onto the plate/cutting board with every cut.

After letting it rest, you now have a great Thanksgiving turkey with that added signature “grill flavor” to set your turkey apart.