The Thanksgiving Holiday is just around the corner. Football, pies, brisk air, stuffing, friends and family, and of course turkey. We all know the drill. Place bird in aluminum tray, put in the oven, bake till the little thing pops up, serve and hope it’s not dry. If it is dry, well, make sure there’s a gravy boat nearby. In other words, BORING!
What happened? The turkey used to be the star of the show. Now it’s just something we do every year because it’s tradition. I’m not saying break tradition and go with ribs on Thanksgiving (but if you do, I’m pretty sure we have a recipe for you). I’m saying make that bird the star again by making grilled turkey. Have your guests commenting on how great that grilled turkey was rather than how happy they were that you had so much extra gravy.
And I realize that the cool weather is not traditionally grilling weather but think about it, rather than the grill making you sweat in the summer time, it will actually warm you up when you check on the bird.
I will hand this off to my cousin, Tom – the Big Green Eggspert – Jones. He will be doing this on his Big Green Egg. For those of us that don’t have a Big Green Egg, simply follow the temperature guidelines for whatever grill you have…
Tom’s Thanksgiving Day Brined and Grilled Turkey!
Grilled Turkey Ingredients:
1 20 pound turkey
12 cups water
3 cups apple cider
1/2 cup honey
1 cup kosher salt
4 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cajun seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) If you don’t use this increase salt to 1 1/2 cups
1 tbsp black pepper
If using a frozen turkey, please safely thaw the bird by placing the frozen turkey (in the original packaging) in a shallow pan in your refrigerator. Allow 24 hours thawing time for every four pounds of turkey. The bird, all 20 glorious pounds:
***Editor’s note – Whether you are grilling the bird or not I cannot stress enough the importance of brining. If you brine properly you will never have another dry bird. Click here to learn a little bit about the science behind brining.***
The Brine Ingredients:
Bring water to boil, add salt and stir until dissolved. Let mixture come down to room temperature while you prep the remaining ingredients for the brine.
Chop onion, celery and carrots into large pieces:
Either crush or rough chop the garlic:
After the salt water mixture has cooled, add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined:
Place the turkey, breast side down into a large bag that can be sealed (some grocery stores sell very large zip-lock type bags for this purpose):
Pour the brine over the turkey ensuring the cavity fills with the brine. Place the bag containing the turkey and brine in cooler along with ice for several hours (overnight is best):
Remove the turkey from the brine, making sure to drain liquid from the cavity and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle olive oil over the bird and season lightly with salt, pepper and seasoning of your choice (if using cajun seasoning don’t use salt). Place some of the vegetables from the brine inside the cavity:
Prepare the Big Green Egg, or whatever grill you have, for indirect heat and add wood for smoking if desired (we used peach wood). Place a pan with liquid in it under the grate positioned below the turkey. This will add moisture and will catching the drippings from the turkey. The liquid can be plain water, wine, beer, etc:
***Editor’s note – If you don’t have peach wood available, apple, apricot, nectarine and pear are all good substitutes. Click here to see the Grillin Fools guide to smoke woods.***
Place on the grill breast side up:
Cook at approximately 300 degrees. Cooking time will be about 15 minutes for every pound of turkey. Coming along nicely:
Starting to become a really nice golden brown on the Big Green Egg:
During the last 30 minutes of cooking baste the grilled turkey with butter and it should look something like this when removed from the grill:
To check doneness of the grilled turkey, use an instant read thermometer. Place thermometer into into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure the thermometer does not touch bone. The juices should run clear from the thigh, also wiggle a drumstick to see if it moves easily at the joint. The final internal temperature in the breast and thigh should reach 165 degrees.
You may want to remove the turkey from the grill at 160 as the residual heat in the turkey will continue to cook while it stands / rests before carving. Important! Allow turkey to stand 20 – 30 minutes before carving.
If you have achieved the correct internal temperature and the juices are clear, the meat near the bone may appear pink. This is normal and the grilled turkey is perfectly safe to eat.
Note: This may sound like a lot of seasoning and salt. However, the end result is a perfectly seasoned, moist and delicious bird that your family will devour!!
If you are looking for other poultry dishes for the Thanksgiving Holiday or otherwise click here.
And of course you could serve this bird on Thanksgiving to add a little humor to the event. Feel free to forward this link on to your friends for a little chuckle.
If you have any questions about the recipe above, feel free to email me or simply leave a comment below and one of us fools will get back to you as soon as possible.
Grilled Turkey just in time for Thanksgiving
- 20 lb turkey
- 12 cup water
- 3 cup apple cider
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 carrot
- 1 onion
- 4 stalk celery
- 4 clove garlic
- ¼ cup cajun seasoning or seasoning of your choice If you don’t use this increase salt to 1½ cups
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 8 tbsp salted butter (1 stick), reserved for the end of the grilling process
- Thaw the turkey thoroughly
- Bring water to boil, add salt and stir until dissolved
- Let mixture come down to room temperature
- Chop onion, celery and carrots into large pieces
- Either crush or rough chop the garlic
- After the salt water mixture has cooled, add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined
- Place the turkey, breast side down into a large bag that can be sealed
- Pour the brine over the turkey ensuring the cavity fills with the brine
- Place the bag containing the turkey and brine in cooler along with ice for several hours (overnight is best)
- Remove the turkey from the brine, making sure to drain liquid from the cavity and pat dry with paper towels
- Drizzle olive oil over the bird and season lightly with salt, pepper and seasoning of your choice
- Place some of the vegetables from the brine inside the cavity
- Prepare the Big Green Egg, or whatever grill you have, for indirect heat and add wood for smoking if desired
- Target temperature of the grill is 300 degrees
- Place a pan with liquid in it under the grate positioned below the turkey
- Place turkey on the grill breast side up
- Cooking time will be about 15 minutes for every pound of turkey
- During the last 30 minutes of cooking baste the grilled turkey with butter
- The final internal temperature in the breast and thigh should reach 165 degrees
- Remove from the grill and allow turkey to stand 20 – 30 minutes before carving
- Slice and serve