Grilled Turkey Recipe

Last Updated on by What’s Smoking

Looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional roasted turkey? Look no further than a mouthwatering grilled turkey recipe! Grilling not only adds a charred flavor to the meat, but it also helps to keep it moist and tender. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or simply want to switch up your Thanksgiving menu, this article will guide you through the steps of preparing a perfectly grilled turkey that will leave your guests begging for seconds. Get ready to elevate your holiday feast and save some space in the oven with this delectable twist on a classic dish!

Turkey Prep

If you have not done this yet, you are going to need to pick a whole turkey size. Whether doing this for Thanksgiving or a summer BBQ, it all applies. Here is a graphic that may help with that decision:

Assume 1.25 pounds of turkey per person

Once you have your size, and I usually do an 15-20 pound turkey, in many cases you need to defrost it. Here is another graphic giving you some info on time needed to defrost. Keep reading below! More important information follows this graphic.

Know when to start your defrost for your Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

Once you have the turkey thawed we can get to work and start talking more about the brine.

Recipe For Grilled Turkey Brine

Before we start talking about grilling we need to get this turkey brined.

Now that the turkey is thawed, we can start brining it. I need to review this a bit first and will essentially break it down into 2 categories. Fresh turkeys and frozen turkeys, usually your typical Butterball turkey.

Brining A Frozen Turkey

If you are using a frozen turkey from a company like Butterball, there is probably a salt/brining solution involved. In many cases those turkeys have been injected with a brine. You will see something along the lines of “Contains up to 8% of a solution of Water, Salt, Spices, and Natural Flavor.” . If that is the case, then there this turkey has either been injected or brined already. If you start looking around the internet, I make a bet you find a 50/50 split of people that still wet brine the Butterballs.

In this recipe, using a Butterball, I still do a brine but cut back on the salt content of the brine and the time. At this point its more flavor that we are looking to achieve over actual brining. The recipe card brine will reflect a brine and instructions for a frozen Butterball turkey.

Brining A Fresh Turkey

A fresh turkey either from a butcher or from a grocery store is probably not going to have any brine solution involved so that will want a full brine. I will reflect the adjustments in the recipe card for a full brine of a fresh turkey. Not brining a fresh turkey will likely result in a dried out turkey so take the extra time to brine.

Brine For Grilled Turkey Recipe

You will first need either a food safe bucket or brine bag. I personally use a brine bag so I will review that method here. Because we are using the Butterball turkey, we are going to cut down on the brine time and instead of a normal 24 hours of brine, we are just going to do 12 hours, essentially a long overnight brine. I would not go any longer than 24 hours with a frozen, previously brined turkey.

Remove the turkey from the package, remove any giblets from the inside. I do not use those, if you do, go right ahead and put them off to the side. Cooking or using the giblets has never been a priority for me. You can leave any twine or plastic ties on the legs for now. It will make handling the turkey much easier as you are going in and out of the brine bag.

We are going to combine our dry ingredients and add them to the cold water and vegetable broth. Make sure with the broth you use low sodium, we don’t want additional salt content being added to the brine recipe. Once you have everything combined and in the bag, you can place the turkey in the bag. Once its in the bag, you have two options, leave it in the regfrigator or place it in a cooler. If going in a cooler you need to add ice. It is important that you keep the temperature below 40°.

12-24 hours of brine for our grilled turkey recipe

After 12 hours of brining you can remove the turkey and we will prepare to move onto the next steps of prepping the turkey so we can grill it.

Juicy Grilled Turkey

We are going to grill our turkey hot and fast. This will mean getting the grill up to a temperature of 325°. Most people like having that crispy skin on their poultry and doing the turkey at 325° will accomplish that.

I did this grilled turkey recipe on my Weber gas grill. It would have been a tight fit on my Weber Kettle but if you have one large enough, go with the Kettle grill. Similar temperatures, times and method would apply.

While the grill is getting up to temperature you can work on seasoning your turkey. As we talked about above, if you are using a previously brined turkey you want to be mindful of the rub you are using and ensuring it is salt free. Here is a rub I used and works great:

  • 2 tablespoons of ground sage
  • 2 tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoon of dried rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard

Once removed from the brine, you will want to pat your turkey dry, give it a light coating of olive oil and apply the rub. Make sure you apply the rub generously and inside the turkey as well. Now that the turkey is seasoned, place it in a roasting pan. A roasting pan helps minimize the mess and collects those juices for some gravy later on.

As a gauge for how long to grill a turkey at 325°, figure about 20 minutes per pound. When it comes to measuring the IT of the turkey, ideally you want two probes in the turkey. One in the breast and another in the thigh. Something you need to know, thigh meat can take a higher IT, upwards of 175°. On the flip side, you do not want your breast meat going above an internal temperature of 165° or you risk drying it out.

A savory grilled turkey seasoning rub

I highly suggest checking out the ThermoPro TP829, its a great 4 probe meat thermometer unit that will not break the bank.

Our rub is on, smoker is up to temp and probes are set, its time to get the bird on the grill. No need to get nervous now, just remember grilling turkey is not much different than grilling any other meat.

This will be a savory and tender grilled whole turkey

Now that the turkey is on, we don’t need to do to much. If you did everything else correctly on the front end things start to get easier. You are going to let it ride, again figure about 20 minutes per pound. You will want to baste it twice, with some melted butter, once at 135° and then again at 150°. This will help give the skin a nice crispy texture.

Be mindful that the turkey will start moving must faster than you may have anticipated but then it will slow down and not necessarily stall but not cook at the speed it was, when you started.

We’ve got you, when it comes to how to grill a turkey!

Once you see your turkey breast get to 165°, and your thighs are likely to already have it 165°, you can go ahead and pull the turkey. I suggest you let it rest for 20-30 minutes or so unless you are running tight on time, the family might not want to wait another 20-30 minutes!. After letting it rest, you can start slicing and serving.

Wrapping Up Grilled Turkey Recipe

This grilled turkey recipe is a delicious and flavorful alternative to traditional oven-roasted turkey. Grilling not only enhances the natural flavors of the meat but also adds a smoky and charred taste that is sure to impress your guests. With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, anyone can master the art of grilling a succulent turkey. So next time you’re planning a special occasion or simply want to try something new for dinner, give this grilled turkey recipe a try and prepare to be amazed by the mouthwatering results.

If you are also looking to free up some room in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, grilling your turkey outside, makes life a little easier inside and frees up some of that valuable oven space.

Incredible grilled turkey slices

Thanks for being here and checking out this Grilled Turkey recipe. I hope you enjoy it! We always appreciate comments, 5 star recipe rating and social media shares. As always, keep that smoke rolling!

If you are looking for some more info and tips for smoking a turkey, whether you are smoking a turkey on a Traeger grill or charcoal smoker, like myself, we put together 5 Tips For Smoking A Turkey. It covers some of what is in here but we also talk about some things like doing a smoked stuffed turkey.

If you are looking for some other recipes, here are some suggestions:

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Thanks!

Grilled Turkey Recipe

Grilled Turkey Recipe

Thanksgiving turkey on the grill is an easy way to create a delicious and tender turkey dinner. Not only will this give you an amazing dinner but it will give you all that extra space in the oven on one of the busiest cooking days of the year!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Rest Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 50 minutes


  • 15-20 lb. turkey
  • 1 stick butter

Turkey Brine

  • 1 1/2 gallons of water
  • 28 ounces of vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 2 tsp. of crushed allspice berries
  • 2 tsp. of crushed crystalized ginger
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt (for a fresh turkey, use 1 cup of salt)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons of dried sage
  • 2 tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoon of dried rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard


  1. Start thawing your turkey, if frozen (see graphic in post for more details)
  2. After turkey has thawed, brine. For a turkey that is frozen and already brined, we will brine for a minimum of 12 hours, up to 24 is good.
  3. Brine using either a brine bag or a food grade plastic container. Keep in regfrigator or cooler. If brining in a cooler, keep temperature at no more than 40 degrees.
  4. After at least 12 hours, remove from brine and pat dry
  5. Set the grill to 325° and set up for indirect heat
  6. Ensure at this time all giblets are removed and any kind of plastic ties or wraps
  7. Once patted dry, apply the dry rub, generously in and outside the turkey. Use some olive oil as a binder if needed
  8. Place on the grill, in a roasting pan, with probes in the breast and thigh
  9. Baste twice with melted butter, at 135° and 150°
  10. Once the breast hits 165°, your thighs should already be there, pull the turkey
  11. Let rest for 20-30 minutes, covered with foil
  12. You can then serve and slice immediately

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 510mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g

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