View Full Version : Thanksgiving - Grilled Turkey on gas grill?

10-09-2006, 02:05 PM
This year, it has finally happened. My mother is officially passing the Thanksgiving torch to me. I have a dining room set with leaves(finally!) and real china so I guess that makes me a real grown-up, huh? Since this is my first year I am already thinking about this so I can buy some things (like the turkey baster, thermometer, and enough folding chairs) in advance.
I am serioulsy thinking about grilling the turkey. Everyone I know who has one this way just raves and raves about doing it this way (ok, not as much as deep frying, but I would most certainly blow up my house so not an option). We have a gas grill. I haven't looked too closely, but I'm assuming the top rack comes out. How do you all do this? Pan - no pan, beer can, rotisserie - all have been suggested on the websites I have found. It seems this is a faster method than the oven, so about how long per pound? I have nighmares of a burnt turkey and having to quickly grill some frozen chicken breasts....Help! Thanks.
Alex Feb '03

Oops- I'll bet this gets moved - I totally forgot about the cooking forums - sorry mods!

10-09-2006, 02:13 PM
Skip the turkey baster. Opening and closing the oven to baste the turkey isn't a great idea. However, if you *brine* your turkey overnight before hand you won't even have to worry! We have been brining our turkey for the past 4-5 years and it makes it so moist and flavorful! :)

This is the method and recipe we use, it is from the Food TV show Good Eats. (check the Food TV website to see when they will be playing their full week of Thanksgiving shows! It's usually a week or 2 before turkey day so you have time to get ideas).


We've never grilled a turkey so I was really just chiming in with some unsolicited advice. :)

Oh, since I already have you I'll throw out one more. We have been hosting Thanksgiving for the past 4 years and I decided this year I am going to write out a list of helpful things people can do since everyone asks but I can't always come up with things at the moment. Actually, I am taking it a step further since it is just going to be close family and I'm going to have everyone pull a job out of the hat. :) My 22yo BIL and 18yo SIL never offer to help but if you ask them to do things they'll do them. Every little bit helps. Someone in charge of drinks, snacks, clearing the table...

Have fun!!


10-09-2006, 02:20 PM
So funny, I was just looking up brining recipies. Brining is the plan - thank goodness we are getting a new fridge and will have the second one in the basement to stick the huge stockpot in.
Alex Feb '03

10-09-2006, 02:27 PM
Just make sure to make a separate gravy. If you use the pan drippings from a brined turkey to make gravy, it will be WAY WAY WAY too salty!

~ deb
DS born at home 12/03
2 year check up: 25 lbs with clothes on and 35 inches!
BFARed for 20 months and 6 days
(Breastfeeding After Reduction is possible! www.bfar.org)


10-09-2006, 02:38 PM
How'd you find this out? :)
Alex Feb '03

Mommy Of A Little Angel
10-09-2006, 02:57 PM
Here's another helpful link:


You definately need to use a smaller turkey (or two small ones?) and it takes a while, but I hear they turn out amazing. DH LOVES to smoke our Thanksgiving turkeys. We bought a smoker for $40 and it was some of the best turkey I have ever had! You can make a bigger one that way, but it will take many hours too! Plus, I love that it doesn't take up the oven so I can get all the sides done.

I wish I could help more, but definately do a google search and you will find lots of info. Oh, and there are books like The Grill Bible that can really help. You might want to go check one out at the bookstore/library.

Good luck on your first Thanksgiving! I am sure everything will turn out fabulously!

10-09-2006, 03:07 PM
We've smoked a turkey and have deep-fried one as well, but never tried to grill one. Only thing I can think of beyond what you/others have said - do you use propane tanks? if so, you might want to have a second one filled just in case you run out of gas from the first one (due to cooking time or having to turn the burners higher for a cold day or high winds). Of course, if you have a gas grill directly connected to a gas line, completely ignore my thoughts! :)
~Connor's Mom 02/2004~
Agency paperwork completed - waiting (and waiting) for another baby!

10-09-2006, 09:34 PM
My advice is to make a test run on at least a smaller turkey, just so you can gauge how long it is going to take and to see if you like the taste. We have made the mistake of trying out new cooking methods/recipes on friends and family only to have things take hours longer or taste "interesting" to say the least. Since this is your 1st shot at taking over where your mother left off, you will probably be a little nervous about things going smoothly anyway. This will give you a little peace of mind. Good Luck!

10-09-2006, 09:47 PM
I literally just walked in the door from a Thanksgiving dinner (Canada!) where the turkey was done on the bbq. My brother put it on grill rack and put the rack over a drip pan. He then turned one side of the burner on medium-low and left the other burner off. I don't know how long it took, but I could certainly find out if you're interested. It turned out great - and he did baste it a few times but mostly just left it with the bbq lid closed. Oh and he did use the drippings for gravy and that was great, too! He didn't use a smoker so I can't comment on that but it was the first time I tried a bbq turkey and I thought it was great! My brother did say that it doesn't take as long as with a conventional oven. Let me know if you'd like more info!


10-10-2006, 05:15 AM
I just have to say.... the one year we had a grilled turkey was the worst turkey I have ever had. We were at a relative's place and they always have friends who do the turkey. Now, it was a charcoal grill, but still. It was awful - dry and tasteless. I actually roasted a turkey when we got home because I was so dissapointed.

10-10-2006, 08:03 AM
We did it one year on our plain old weber grill, and it was great !

I did miss smelling the turkey while it was roasting in the house, but that was the only down side. We put it in a regular roasting pan, and followed the directions in the weber cookbook/instruction manual that comes with the grill. I will look for it at home later if you like. It was essentially just like cooking it in the oven, but the time might have been different. Let me know if you want me to check it out. (I am at work now, or I'd just go to the kitchen and look in the book !)

10-10-2006, 10:03 AM
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I'm a decent cook - I'm actually not that worried about the majority of the meal (and of course I just jinxed myself). I am, however, still learning with grilling. I just thought this would really clear up oven space. So we may be having a turkey dinner this weekend...
Alex Feb '03

10-10-2006, 10:03 AM
I'd love any info you can get - thanks!
Alex Feb '03

10-10-2006, 10:04 AM
That'd be great - ours didn't come with much info.
Alex Feb '03

10-10-2006, 10:29 AM
Hey there,

My DH had bugged me about how awesome it would be to smoke a turkey this year for Thnxgiving, but after how our chicken thighs came out (half-raw and really chewy after 3 hours), I forbid him even the idea...hence the turkey roulade idea. I'm curious how long it took you and what you did to prepare it and make sure it was fully cooked. It sounds great, but I just can't get over the not-cooked taste when it's not done professionally. We also have a $50 smoker and have done brined fresh fish just fine, but a whole turkey terrifies me!!!

Any tips, tricks, hints or stories to tell? I know about the pink smoke ring it creates on meat & poultry, but our thighs were just plain gross, even though they were brined.



10-10-2006, 10:59 AM
Cooking A Turkey On Your Weber Grill Grilled turkey is a delectable treat that's surprisingly easy to prepare. Our Turkey with Orange, Cloves, Garlic, and Sage is a basic recipe that's good for any time of year. Here are a few tips to make a flawless feast.

Basic Grilled Turkey recipe
How much fuel?
Turkey size
Thawing turkey
Fresh turkey
Food safety
Cooking times and doneness temperatures
Preparing a turkey breast
No turning or basting needed
Making gravy
Perfect timing

Before you start: Whether you're cooking on a charcoal or gas grill, make sure you have plenty of fuel. For gas grills, a full tank should last about 17 or 18 hours, so check your gas gauge before you start. For charcoal grills, check our Charcoal Guide to see how many briquets you need to add over the course of the grilling time.

Size: Weight is not really an issue as long as the turkey fits in your grill with the lid down to allow for Indirect Cooking (note that turkeys over 24 pounds may not fit under your grill lid). At least one inch clearance between the turkey and lid is ideal. So think structure. A broad, flat bird will fit better than one with a high breast bone. To determine the size of turkey you need to feed a specific number of guests, see our Portion Guide.

Thawing: A turkey should be completely defrosted in the refrigerator before grilling. Place the frozen turkey in its original wrapping on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 4 pounds of turkey. Never thaw poultry at room temperature.

Fresh turkey: Grill fresh turkey just as you would a completely defrosted frozen one. Since fresh turkey is highly perishable, check the "sell by" date before you buy. Buy the turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it and keep it refrigerated.

Food Safety: To avoid spreading dangerous bacteria to other foods, always wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces with hot soapy water after handling raw poultry. Cook stuffing in a covered foil pan beside the turkey on the grill, by the Indirect method, during the last 45 to 60 minutes of grilling time, to an internal temperature of 160°F.

Doneness: Turkey is fully cooked when a meat thermometer registers 180°F in the thigh or 170°F in the breast (about 11 to 13 minutes per pound). Remove turkey from the grill and allow to rest 20 minutes before carving. (If you're slow-smoking that bird, remember that a smoke-cooked turkey may appear a little pink, even when thoroughly cooked.) The following chart of cooking times are approximate. Allow more time for cold/windy days or high altitudes.

Cooking Times for Unstuffed Turkeys
10-11 lbs. = 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hrs.
12-14 lbs. = 2-1/4 to 3 hrs.
15-17 lbs. = 2-3/4 to 3-3/4 hrs.
18-22 lbs. = 3-1/2 to 4 hrs.
23-24 lbs. = 4 to 4-1/2 hrs.

Turkey breasts: Whether you're feeding a smaller crowd or supplementing the menu for a large one, a turkey breast is a great idea. Grill a 3 to 3 1/2 pound boneless turkey breast by the Indirect method for 1 to 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 170°F.

Turning and basting: The best part about grilling your bird on your Weber Grill is you don't have to turn or baste! Simply set up the grill for Indirect grilling (see below), place the turkey in the center of the cooking grate, and close the lid. For charcoal grills, see our Charcoal Guide to add fuel as needed.

To make basic turkey gravy: Remove all but 1/4 cup of the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup flour OR 1/4 cup cornstarch into the fat and drippings. Whisk over low heat until smooth, and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of liquid (broth, cooking water from the boiled giblets, or milk). Stirring constantly, raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes, loosening the bits of cooked turkey from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Timing: Working backward from a planned serving time, decide when each dish should be cooked so that foods with the longest cooking time can be started first.

The Indirect grill method:
Indirect Method
The Indirect Method is similar to roasting, but with the added benefits of that grilled texture, flavor, and appearance you can't get from an oven. Heat rises, reflects off the lid and inside surfaces of the grill, and slowly cooks the food evenly on all sides. The circulating heat works much like a convection oven, so there's no need to turn the food. Use the Indirect Method for foods that require 25 minutes or more of grilling time or for foods that are so delicate that direct exposure to the heat source would dry them out or scorch them. Examples include roasts, ribs, whole chickens, turkeys, and other large cuts of meat, as well as delicate fish fillets.

To grill by the Indirect Method on a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners on High. Then adjust the burners on each side of the food to the temperature noted in the recipe and turn off the burner(s) directly below the food. For best results, place roasts, poultry, or large cuts of meat on a roasting rack set inside a disposable heavy-gauge foil pan. For longer cooking times, add water to the foil pan to keep drippings from burning.


Mommy Of A Little Angel
10-10-2006, 11:02 AM
Sorry I didn't see this until just now! I will ask DH when he gets home so you can have all his tips. Here's a pic of the turkey when he and his brothers were done with it! Turkeys can come out AMAZING!

10-10-2006, 01:22 PM
Wow - I can't thank you enough. That is awesome!
Alex Feb '03

10-10-2006, 11:37 PM
Wow, that looks great!! I can't wait to hear the tips and suggestions.

Talked w/ DH about it tonight and he said it seemed like he had trouble keeping the coals roaring-hot enough since it was so cold and windy...and that the water in the pan above the coals never really "boiled." Maybe you could run that by him as well and see if that's normal or not? We just kept adding water-soaked mesquite wood chips on top of the charcoals. I don't know what went wrong since the fish came out sooo tasty, but the chicken thighs after hours and hours were nothing like that pretty picture of yours.

Mommy Of A Little Angel
10-15-2006, 08:24 PM
Okay I finally sat down with DH and got him to tell me all his tips. Here they are!

1. You need to have a temperature gauge on the smoker. That way you can make sure you are keeping the temperature constant. It should be running around 225 to 250 degrees (your smoker should have a temperature it recommends). Regulate the temperature with charcoal (see below).

2. If the fire seems to be dying, add more charcoal. Make sure you don't use matchlight. If it already has the lighter fluid on it, you can't add more. He says start with regular charcoal and plenty of lighter fluid (make sure each piece has a good soaking), then if you need to add more charcoal later, just add them and no lighter fluid.

3. Refresh the wood chips every hour. They aren't for heat, just flavor.

4. If the temperature inside is hot enough, the water should be boiling.

5. If it is really windy, the fire can die quickly so you can blow on the coals to keep them hot. You can use a can of compressed air (stay far back from the fire - BIG hazard and it always scares me when he does this!!!) You can use a fireplace bellows or a small fan also. DH said that if you don't have a good airflow this can kill your fire.

6. A 12 to 14 pound turkey should take 3 to 4 hours. Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should be around 170 degrees.

I am sorry this took so long to type out. I hope that you are able to make a magnificent turkey for Thanksgiving or at least some good chicken in the near future! Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!!