Grilling a turkey on a kettle is pretty simple, and the results are amazing. Once you grill a turkey you might never cook one in an oven again!
PREPARING THE TURKEY
- Pick out a great turkey and plan ahead. If you buy a frozen turkey, it will take about one day for every five pounds to safely defrost in your refrigerator. Leave the bird in its original package and place a drip pan under the bird so it doesn’t leak onto something else. Never defrost at room temperature. When trying to figure out how much turkey you should have for your guests, we suggest one pound per person. If you have big eaters, or want some leftovers figure a pound and a half per person.
- Make sure the turkey will fit your grill.
- Brining is a great way to add weight and moisture.
- Add extra flavor to your turkey!
- Truss the turkey
- Cover the top of the turkey with a cheesecloth. You will leave this on for the first 2-3 hours.
PREPARING THE GRILL
For low and slow at 225-250 degrees:
- Light a chimney starter that is filled a third of the way with Weber Briquettes and wait until the coals are ashed over.
- Dump the lit charcoal onto one side of the charcoal grate, leaving the other side open. Place a large drip pan right next to the charcoal in the open space. This will be used to catch drippings and also as a heat sink.
For roasting at 275-375 degrees:
- Light a chimney starter that is filled about halfway with Weber Briquettes and wait until the coals are ashed over.
- Dump the charcoal evenly on both sides of the kettle, leaving an open space in the center. Place a large drip pan in between the charcoal, this will be used to catch drippings and also as a heat sink.
3. Place the cooking grate on the kettle, and make sure that the hinged part of the grate is directly over the charcoal so that you can easily add more briquettes. If you don't have a hinged grate, it's really good idea to pick one up if you plan on grilling a turkey.
4. Set the bottom vents to about a quarter of the way open, and start with the top vent halfway open. Control the temperature throughout the process by turning the top vent to being more open to get the temperature higher, or closing it a little to cool it down.
5. Cover the grill and adjust the lid so that the thermometer (if present on your model) is over an indirect area so that you are measuring the convection heat/hot air, not the heat of the charcoal.
6. Allow your grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes and 5 minutes into the preheat add wood chunks to the lit briquettes in a line on the top. Follow a 3:1 ratio of cherry and hickory for optimal flavor.
7. If you use a Weber iGrill, you can have consistent temperature readings sent straight to your phone during the grilling process, and also have more time with your guests instead of constantly having to monitor your grill and worrying about when the turkey is going to be done.
Follow our guide for temperature ranges and minutes per pound here.
Check the temperature of the turkey halfway through the cook with your iGrill or meat thermometer, three quarters of the way, and then when you think it is done to make sure that you are on the right track to hit an internal temperature of 165 F. This will help you monitor the turkey and make sure it is not over cooked!
If it is going to be cold where you live, the turkey will take about 3 extra minutes per pound to cook.
The more you open the lid, the longer it will take to cook, so be patient and keep the lid closed.
Add 9 unlit briquettes every hour on the hour to maintain temperatures.
Halfway through your estimated cook time you will want to flip the turkey. If you have your charcoal all on one side of the grill, rotate the turkey as well it so that it does not cook too much on one side.
WHEN IS IT DONE?
Keep in the mind that the turkey could cook a little quicker than you expect so be sure to have checked it halfway, three quarters of the way and then when you think it is done.
If you are grilling a turkey for the first time and getting nervous, you can check the temperature each time you add the new charcoal.
Check the temperature of the turkey on the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast to make sure that it is fully cooked at 165 degrees before removing it.
This step is important! Let it rest for 20-30% of the total cooking time. You can loosely cover the turkey with a piece of aluminum foil while it is resting or you can just leave it uncovered.