Grilled Turkey questions!

alexanndraNovember 9, 2003

Hi all!

I just scanned the Internet for grilled turkey recipies (our oven is small and also on the brink, so I don't want to risk it!), and I'm kinda..confused!

1) Should I use a roasting rack, a heavy guage foil pan, BOTH or NEITHER?

2) If I DO use a foil pan, do I need to add water???

3) Do I start grilling breast side down, then flip it over...or just leave it in place?

4) Anyone ever try grilling a turkey? Any tips or links?

I have a gas grill (which I've only used once!) by the way...


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I did it last year, but I used a rotisserie. Since the bird should be grilled breast side up over indirect heat, I believe you would have problems grilling it that way unless the turkey was very small or the grill is REALLY big. I messed the meal up last year because I timed all of the sides based on the estimated time the turkey should have taken. Instead of taking 2.5 hours, it took 1.5 hours and was overcooked. When I do it this year, I am going to get all the sides done ahead, and then cook the turkey based on its temperature alone.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2003 at 6:28AM
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I use a roasting rack sitting in a foil pan. No water in it.

The turkey is not turned while roasting, and sits breast side up.

BTW, Butterball makes a boneless turkey breast roast. It is wonderful, though not necessaily Thankgiving-traditional. We cook one about once every two weeks.

It comes in cooking twine netting and with a gravy packet. I use my favorite dry rub. Then, with the grill preheated as hot as it will go, I sear it for 3 minutes each on 4 longside sides. Don't peak during the 3 minutes. Just let it go. Doen't matter if it flares up. After the 12 minutes of searing, it goes on the rack and in to the foil pan, with a meat thermometer inserted. Turn down the grill to about 325-350 degF. Cook 'til the center gets to 170 degF. Scrape the bits out of the foil pan and use with the gravy packet. Serve with Garlic/Cream Cheese smashed potatoes.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2003 at 8:43PM
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Thanks, you guys. I live in Mexico, so no Butterball here! :) In fact, I was thinking of getting a fresh turkey this time, instead of frozen. I mean the kind you pick out while it's still alive and they kill it for you on the spot! But then again, it kind of makes me sad, maybe I won't! :)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2003 at 4:14PM
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Hi All! This past Thanksgiving I barbequed my turkey. My gas BBQ has a fairly high dome, and a 15lb turkey stood up on it perfectly. I used one of those cones for standing chickens up in the oven. In a pan on the grill, I stood the turkey up over 1/2 can of beer, although I understand a 1/2 can of 7Up (or even water) would work as well. It just adds moisture the the meat.

I just smeared a teaspoon of butter on my hands and then lightly coated the turkey. A bit of salt and pepper or whatever seasoning you want, put down the lid and leave it for however long it takes to cook. A meat thermometer would be a good idea. I put the stuffing in a cake pan beside the turkey for the last hour of cooking.

All I can say is that it was probably the best turkey I have ever had. It was so juicy and the skin was so golden and crisp, there were hardly any leftovers! Absolutely superb!

This works equally well with chicken too. Good BBQing to you all!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 1:19PM
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I just so happen to be getting ready to grill the 12# turkey I got from work in November. I've done this twice before and have used the rotisserie each time. The first time the bird cooked in under two hours and the rest of the meal was not ready. That was a big disaster. The second time, I got all of the fixins' done first but this turkey took 3 hours to cook. Who knows what this bird will do. I'll post pictures of the finished bird.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 6:51AM
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This thread brought back such delicious Thanksgiving memories, I started to salivate! So as I type, my chicken is grilling away on the BBQ. Last time I used beer, so this time I'm using Sprite. I can hardly wait to dig in! Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 5:04PM
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I've done it with and without a foil pan. The advantage is that you reserve drippings for gravy if you use a pan. I like the roasting rack if I use a pan in order to help heat circulate.

laurelann: Next time, try using your fingers to loosen the skin on the breast and thighs, and spread the butter between the skin and meat. Add some spices to the butter, too (I use a Rosemary-dominated rub, and add some of this to the butter. You can kinda stick a glob of the softened butter between the skin and meat, and the use your hands outside the skin to kind of mash it around and spread it out.

DEFINITELY use a thermometer. I use a digital thermometer for pretty much anything more complicated than hamburgers. 'Course, most commercial turkeys come with that plastic pop-up dude built in, which is fine.

Remember to let the bird rest for 20 minutes or so before carving. Heating builds up pressure inside the meat (like in a pot of boiling water...), and if you cut it while it's too hot, that pressure will force out a TON of moisture from the meat. Give it a chance to cool and the internal pressure will drop to the point that the meat can retain the juices much better.

Here's a great turkey recipe from FoodNetwork. I did the brining, too, though I'm not sure how much it added. I did the roasting in my Weber gas grill rather than in the oven. Making the stock and then using that for the gravy was just unbelievable (I deglazed with red wine, not port...). Before browning the neck, cut it into smaller pieces to give more surface area for getting browned.

Here is a link that might be useful: Excellent Roasted Turkey Instructions

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 11:25AM
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sscutchen, thanks so much for the tip. It sounds absolutely mouth-watering. I'll try it next time. Tarragon goes well with turkey so maybe I'll add a bit to the butter.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2004 at 2:32PM
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This passed Mardi Gras we had a big party and more people than you can shake a stick at, so we figure that turkey legs would be quick and a whole lot cheaper. We took a big boiling pot filled it up with water and add crab boil to the water. Get the water to a good boil. Season meat and drop legs in and boil for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Let set in season water for 5 minutes. Take out and put on pit.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, remember the turkey legs are already cooked from boiling it so you just want to brown it.
Brush on your favoite sauce.

Bon Appetite!!!
cajun cat

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 4:35PM
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I am starting to think about my holiday turkey preparation. In the past I have smoked (using a smoker), deep fried and oven roasted. Usually I am lucky and my family falls in love with the juicy, flavorful turkey. This year, I would like to roast using our grill. We have a new grill that is hooked to out natural gas line.

I am planning on setting the grill to a temperature between 250F and 275F, and letting the turkey cook for 25-30 minutes per pound. I will likely do a brine and rub under the skin with an herb butter. I might even put some aeromatics inside (not too stuffed, though, but enough for flavor).

My question, though, is what size turkey is too big for grilling? I think for the numer of people that we are having I would like an 18 pound turkey. I read that you shouldn't grill a turkey larger than 20 pounds. Does anyone have experience with a large turkey? Any other suggestions? Do my temperatures and cook times seem right?

One other question - wheely boy I can't seem to get cook time to come out with the rest of the meal. If I plan 6 hours it is done in 3, if I plan on 3 hours it takes 5-6 to get to the right internal temperature. You help is greatly appreciated.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:14PM
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Greetings Tim.

Since I posted that in 2003, I have cooked the Thanksgiving turkey on the grill in 2005 and 2006. I plan on doing the same next week. I use a gas grill to rottiserie a 15# turkey and a charcoal kettle grill to smoke a 7# turkey breast. I start both out by brining for 24 hours in advance.

The cooking time is primarily effected by the outside temperature. In 2005 there was a raging snow storm and the cooking took for ever (5 hours). In 2006 the weather was nice and it went quick (3 hours). I would plan for the longer time and then monitor the turkey temperature very closely. I was able to slow the process way down by turning the grill temp way down. Set a time to eat, use the 30 minute per pound estimate and then pay very close attention.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 9:23PM
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Hey ho, All! Just found this site!

Ive been grilling/hot smoking the birds for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other festivities for about 20 years. I learned from my Dad. He started when he got his first Weber back in 1965.

He always used to say that the best use of the Weber instructions were to light your first fire!

HereÂs what he taught me:

Soak a 5 pound bag of hardwood chips (hickory, cherry, apple, alder) in water overnight.

On the day of the cooking, start with a CLEAN BBQ. No ash residue. Clean grill.

Load the grill with a 10 pound bag of good charcoal. Get it lit and wait until the coals are grayed out around the perimeters and the smell of any starter is long gone.

Push the coals to two sides, leaving a space in the middle.

Put a heavy duty aluminum foil drip pan in the middle under where the bird will sit. This will catch the drips. TheyÂll be way too burned for dripping gravy. The object of the pan is to reduce the clean up and flare up potential.

Put two decent handfuls of drained chips on the coals; one handful on each side. Brush the grill with peanut oil and pop it on the BBQ.

Put the bird breast DOWN on the grill. Yes, breast down. You wonÂt touch the bird again until you take it off the grill. The higher fat content in the thighs and back will help baste the breast and make it much juicier. Tip: if you use one of those metal turkey lifting racks, itÂll be WAY easier to remove the bird later!

Stick a meat thermometer in the thigh toward the bird. Make sure you donÂt touch any bone. I use two thermometers; one on each side. YouÂre going to be looking for an internal temp of about 180ºF.

Put the lid on and LEAVE IT ALONE!!!! Open all the vents wide to allow for good air circulation and maximum heat. Do NOT open the lid for at least one hour. YouÂll drop the heat level in the ÂQ, lengthen the cooking time and dry out the air around the bird making for a drier bird.

After one hour, load more chips on the coals. YouÂll notice that the skin looks really black. DonÂt worry, itÂs not burned, itÂs really heavily smoked. Put the lid back on and walk away. Resist the temptation to look! You may need to put more coals on each side if the fire has burned really hot and the coals are turning to ash piles.

About every 15 minutes after the first hour, put on more chips.

The bird should take about 9 minutes for each pound of bird. A 12 pound bird should take about an hour and three quarters to cook while a twenty pounder should run about 3 hours or less.

Take the bird off the ÂQ and left it sit quietly for at last 15 minutes, preferably about half an hour. This will allow the juices to stabilize and give them some chance of remaining in the meat instead of pouring out on the carving plate. The meat will be juicer and pinker than birds done in the oven. The meat will have a delicate smoked flavor.

The stuffing recipe that my mother passed down to my wife is a sausage and sage recipe that is cooked before it goes in the bird. I have heard from a number of sources that you should never stuff a bird being BBQÂd. My family has been doing just this for over 40 years with no ill effects. I think that there are two reasons for this: 1) the stuffing is cooked before going into the bird; and. 2) the temperatures at which the bird is cooked far exceeds anything your oven could muster.

Dad passed away fifteen years ago, by his "Bird ÂQing Lore" lives on.

Cheers, all! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Ian Wilson

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 4:41PM
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