This time of year a lot of us are considering grill a turkey for Thanksgiving. The purpose of this article will give you the options to consider, along with what you need to think about before attempting it. Here I will cover the three most popular techniques to grill a whole turkey and what you need to do to be prepared for thanksgiving day. For all of these you need to consider your fuel. No matter the size of your bird you will be grilling for a few hours. So start with enough charcoal or a full propane tank.
Rotisserie turkey: This is a popular option that I am sure has a very high failure rate from people being unprepared. There is a lot to take into account before you begin. First is your rotisserie itself. Is your spit rod, forks and motor capable of handling the bird? A good rule of thumb is under 15 pounds you can use a 5/16 rod anymore then that and you will need thicker 1/2 inch thick spit rod.
Secondly is the clearance around the rod. I have seen turkeys up to 14 inches wide. This means you will require a minimum of 8 inches of clearance just for the bird to spin freely and don’t forget the stem of your thermometer sticking inside the grill. Most grills don’t have this kind of room.
Lastly, we see a lot of people purchasing grill rotisseries right before the holiday and the first thing they are ever going to cook on a rotisserie is their thanksgiving day turkey. Then they are disappointed when it doesn’t turn out right. Do not let this happen to you. At least cook a small chicken or two before ruining your holiday.
V8 Can Turkey: This is my go to option. Clearance is really the only thing to consider with this option. You stand the turkey on a #5 tin can just like cooking a beer can chicken. Consider the height as well as the width of the bird. Also remember to check the stem of your hood thermometer. There is a lay down turkey stand available (shown below) that will allow you to grill a whole turkey on a smaller grill.
Traditional Grilled Turkey: Turkeys are wide and long so just do a check beforehand to make sure you have enough room for indirect grilling with something this large. Butterball has a nice article about it here.
In all cases you will normally be grilling with indirect heat at 325 to 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes per pound.
Hopefully this how to grill a whole turkey guide will make your Thanksgiving day dinner one to talk about.
Is a Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member and has over 10 years experience in the food service industry.
“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my grill!”
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