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Grilled Whole Turkey Recipe

Grilled Whole Turkey ready for serving

If you own a grill you’ve likely cooked burgers, dogs, steaks, and probably even pork chops or kabobs. Pretty common and all very good on the grill, but have you ever thought: how can I grill a turkey on my grill? Or maybe you’ve needed an extra oven on those big holidays to make room for that pumpkin pie or incredible pecan wood ham. Using a grill to cook a turkey is an excellent way to please the crowd and free up the oven.

Not to mention, grilling a whole turkey on Thanksgiving allows an escape from the hectic crowd if you need an excuse to leave the house and check on the bird in the great outdoors.

There are plenty of techniques floating around that cover grilling a whole turkey on a charcoal grill. While I love to use my charcoal grills I am also a fan of the convenience of a gas grill, so today we’re going to cover how to grill a whole turkey on a gas grill.

For this grilled whole turkey recipe, we’re going to be using a simple homemade poultry seasoning, setting up our gas grill for indirect heat and adding a little smoke to the flavor profile. If you don’t like the smoke element just forgo that step. One thing you can’t forgo, however, is a reliable leave in instant read thermometer. Without one, grilling a whole turkey is like driving down the interstate at night without headlights.

An instant read thermometer inserted into the breast or thigh throughout the cook will work as well, but you’ll lose a lot of heat by always opening the lid to take a reading, so I don’t recommend it unless it’s your only way of reading temp.

When preparing your grill, I advise lighting the burners on the far left and right, and placing the whole turkey in the middle over an unlit burner. If you only have a two burner grill, only light one burner and place the turkey as far away from the direct heat as possible.

Finally, temperature near the turkey is crucial and I never trust the thermometer that comes with a grill. Usually mounted in the grill’s lid, they are almost always inaccurate. Another reason to use a reliable leave in thermometer; most of these are at least two channels so you can keep an eye on your grill temperature while monitoring the turkey’s temperature at the same time.

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How to Grill a Whole Turkey

Serves: 6-8 | Prep time: 20 mins. | Cook time: 2.5-3 hours

Ingredients:
10 lb Omaha Steaks turkey
3 tbs olive oil

Seasoning:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup smoked paprika
3 tbsp course sea salt
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp garlic power (not salt)
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions for Grilling a Whole Turkey Recipe

Step 1: Light your gas grill and set up for indirect heat of 180°F. Place your smoke tube over direct heat and allow pellets to start smoking. I prefer a nice pecan flavor for turkey.

Step 2: Unwrap and rinse turkey under cold water. The key here is starting with a good turkey, and I love the birds I get from Omaha Steaks, the juiciest turkey you’ll ever slice into.

Whole turkey from Omaha Steaks

For more information about Omaha Steaks’ turkey, click the picture above.

Step 3: Place turkey on a wire cooling rack turkey breast side up, and pat dry. Be sure to tuck in or remove any excess neck skin left on the bird, and tuck the wings under the bird to prevent them from burning.

Step 4: Whisk together poultry dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

Step 5: Evenly coat turkey skin with olive oil, and dust entire bird with seasoning mix. Place wire rack on sheet pan or roasting pan to collect any drippings, and insert your leave in thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, ensuring it isn’t touching bone.

Omaha Steak Turkey seasoned and ready for the grill

Step 6: Place turkey on grill over indirect heat and close the lid for 30 minutes, allowing the bird to take on some smoke flavor from the pellets.

Whole turkey from Omaha Steak trussed and on the grill

Step 7: After 30 minutes, tent the turkey with aluminum foil and crank heat up to 325°F.

Step 8: Allow to cook until internal temperature reaches 155°F. Once breast is at 155 degrees, remove foil and allow to cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. This allows the skin to get brown and crisp.

Finished grilled whole turkey

Cook a Grilled Whole Turkey:

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Grilled Whole Turkey ready for serving
Grilled Whole Turkey
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 20 mins
 
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 10 lbs Omaha Steaks turkey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Seasoning:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp course sea salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp garlic power
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Light your gas grill and set up for indirect heat of 180°F. Place your smoke tube over direct heat and allow pellets to start smoking.

  2. Unwrap and rinse turkey under cold water.

  3. Place turkey on a wire cooling rack, turkey breast side up, and pat dry.

  4. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

  5. Evenly coat turkey skin with olive oil, and dust entire bird with seasoning mix. Place wire rack on sheet pan or roasting pan to collect any drippings, and insert your leave-in thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, ensuring it isn't touching bone.

  6. Place turkey on grill over indirect heat and close the lid for 30 minutes, allowing the bird to take on some smoke flavor from the pellets.

  7. After 30 minutes, tent the turkey with aluminum foil and crank heat up to 325°F.

  8. Allow to cook until internal temperature reaches 155°F. Once breast is at 155 degrees, remove foil and allow to cook until internal temperature reaches 165°F. This allows the skin to get brown and crisp.