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Smoke Roast your Turkey

Turkey Season is almost upon us. Why not Barbecue your Turkey this year!

Research shows that most Americans will serve Turkey as their meat of choice at Thanksgiving. Christmas is also an important event for Turkey with it being a very popular choice around the world.

There are a few reasons Barbecuing Turkey makes sense.

  • Free up oven space for all those delicious extra side dishes.
  • Save time, Barbecuing your Turkey can reduce the cooking time by 45 mins for a 14-pound bird.
  • Let’s face it when you take that Turkey off the Grill it will look so impressive!

Buying your Turkey

What size Turkey?

Have a look at the diagram below which will help you in deciding which size fits your needs. Also, chat with your local butcher who will guide you. It’s worth it to remember if you are expecting many guests it is easier to control the cooking of two smaller birds than one huge turkey.

Organic Turkey?

Always choose an Organic or Heritage Turkey. They normally have a better texture and flavor. You will have the added advantage of knowing the bird was raised naturally.

Fresh vs Frozen?

Fresh birds are always the first choice. However, this is not always possible and a good quality frozen turkey can be delicious. If frozen – allow for plenty of time to completely defrost the bird. A guideline is 24 hrs per (4) four pounds if you are defrosting in the refrigerator. You can hurry the process along by immersing the turkey in the packaging in a basin of cold water.

Pre-Injected with Saline?

It is better not to buy a saline-injected bird. You will then pay for the weight of the water too. The self-basting birds will be moist on cooking but tend to lack a bit in flavor.

It takes a little more effort to brine or baste your turkey but the results will be worth it.

A compromise may be to purchase a salted Kosher bird. This will help keep the bird moist but you cant control the quantity of seasoning. Don’t re-brine a Kosher bird!

Prep your Turkey

  • Take great care with defrosting a frozen turkey. (see above points on Fresh vs Frozen)
  • Remove the giblets from both the main and front cavities.
  • Stuffing a Turkey: A lot of cooks swear by stuffing the bird to help impart flavor. However, be very careful! You will need to add cooking time. The additional cooking time often results in the turkey meat being overcooked whilst you wait for the stuffing to reach a safe 165* F.
  • A way around this is to cook the stuffing in a separate skillet. The smokey flavor will still be there and a crisp buttery crust will form over the stuffing.
  • Place a lemon, some rosemary, onion or orange in the cavity before grilling.
  • Spread some butter (plain or herb) under the skin of the turkey. This will keep the meat moist and usually results in crisp skin.
  • You could inject the bird with your favorite rub injection, just be sure to dry the bird before adding dry spice rub to the exterior.
  • Sprinkle and rub into the skin your favorite spice rub.
  • If the bird comes with a Hock Lock, leave it in place. Tuck in the turkey wings and legs (toothpicks help) so that the bird will cook evenly. It will also result in a beautifully presented end product.


  • Position a roasting pan underneath the turkey so that you can collect drippings to make gravy.


Cooking your Turkey

Smoke – Roast the Turkey

A delicious way to Grill your turkey is to roast it on a charcoal or gas grill fitted with a smoker box. A moderate-high heat (325-400* F ) will cook the turkey and also result in a crispy skin.

Use the indirect grilling method shown above. For further details on Temperature Control, click on this link for further information:

If you are using a Traditional Gas Grill, you can add Wood Flavor using a Wood Grill Tube and some Wood Pellets.


Guide to Grilling Times: See below

  • 225-250 degrees 23-27 minutes per pound
  • 275-300 degrees 18-21 minutes per pound
  • 350-375 degrees 11-13 minutes per pound

Adjust by about 3 minutes per pound if it is cold.

It is important to check the temperature of the turkey halfway through cooking again at the three-quarters mark.

VIP: Use a Meat Thermometer

The recommended temperature to ensure complete cooking is 165* F on the innermost part of the thigh and breast. Using a meat thermometer is the ONLY way that ensures a complete, safe optimum temperature. Turkey is then safe to serve to your guests.

Baste your Turkey

Baste your bird once an hour to help keep the skin brown and crisp. A simple baste with melted butter, olive oil or bacon fat is preferable. (It is not advisable to baste with turkey stock or barbecue sauce as this will usually result in a soggy skin).

Resting your Turkey

You must allow a cooked turkey to rest before serving. Ideally, it should rest for 20-30% of the cooking time. This allows the meat to relax and makes it juicier.

Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil whilst resting. Don’t wrap the foil around the bird tightly as this will result in a soggy skin.

Final Tips

Practice Run: If you are expecting a large crowd or need to impress the in-laws it might be advisable to do a practice run especially if you don’t use your Grill often.

Wind Watch: The wind is the only thing that may affect your cooking time. Be careful that wind does not blow out gas burners. Grill in a protected area.

Stock Up: Remember stores are usually closed on the Holidays. Stock up on propane, charcoal, wood and smoking chips.

Enjoy your moment when you bring out your whole turkey crispy and tender to take pride of place on your Holiday Table!


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