How to Barbeque a Turkey

Have you ever tasted turkey cooked on a Weber Kettle Barbeque?

The smoked flavor is amazingly, unbelievably, over-the-top delicious….it’s so juicy and tender too.

We’ve made our holiday turkeys on the BBQ for a number of years and the outcome is consistently magazine-cover-ready!

I can’t even tell you how good the leftovers are with the smokey flavor….and the gravy that’s made from the drippings is the best I’ve ever had.  I put it on everything…ok maybe not the pumpkin pie.

The reason that the outcome is so consistent is that the cooking time and number of mesquite coals used is calculated based on the weight of the turkey.

It’s just 11 minutes of cooking time per pound for a turkey without stuffing, and 13 minutes per pound for a turkey with stuffing.

Below I give an example on how to figure out the time it will take to prep the BBQ, cook, and rest the turkey.

It’s actually very easy and the smell from the turkey cooking in the BBQ is out of this world…it actually smells like it tastes if that makes sense!

I apologize in advance if my explanation below about the cooking time sounds like some sort of a math exam….but the results are so worth it!

You’ll need:

Mesquite charcoal briquets, a whole turkey, dripping pan, butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder.   Also, the type of BBQ and grates used are noted below.
Here’s how to make it.

Determine when you should start the cooking process (see the explanation on how to do this at the bottom of this recipe).

Preparing the Grill:

To start, put some plastic gloves on and add 25 Match Light with Mesquite briquets on each side of the BBQ inside the charcoal rails.

Since the Match Light briquets are infused with lighter fluid you’ll only use them for the initial stage of getting the coals hot.

There will be some black colored coals and some light brown coals which are the mesquite briquets.

These charcoal rails are an accessory, and are so handy when making this recipe.

The hardest part of adding the coals is keeping the right count!

Oops….forgot one!

The coals added later in the cooking process will just be the regular (non-Match Light) mesquite charcoal briquets.

Carefully light up the coals with a fire starter.

Light a few of the coals……

….on one side to get them going…..

….then go to the other side and light a few of the coals.

No need to put the lid on yet.

You’ll see some flames for just a short while.

But they’ll die down fairly quickly.

Let the coals get hot (about 45 minutes).

Preparing the Turkey:

While the coals are getting hot, drizzle the melted butter over the entire turkey (in the cavity too).  Then sprinkle the entire turkey (including the cavity) with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Cooking the Turkey:

Once the coals are hot (they will turn a gray color), put the pan for the drippings in between the charcoal rails.  These drippings make the best gravy!

I use this old faithful metal pan……

….but you can also use a sturdy disposable foil pan if you prefer.

Put the hinged cooking grate in the BBQ (this is also a handy accessory).

Put the turkey on the cooking grate……

…..center the turkey right over the dripping pan.

See those goofy looking toothpicks……

….I use them to keep the wings tight to the bird……

….I just remove the toothpicks when the turkey’s done so it doesn’t look like a porcupine on the dinner table.

Put the lid on the BBQ with the vent open.

Every hour, (starting from when the initial coals were added), add 10 regular mesquite coals (not the Match Light coals) to each side of the charcoal rails.

About 15 minutes after putting the turkey on the grill, take off the lid, open the hinged cooking grates, and add 10 regular mesquite coals to each side.

Then put the lid back on.

Then for every hour thereafter……

……. continue to add 10 regular mesquite coals (not the Match Light coals)…….

…..to each side of the charcoal rails.

Here’s what the turkey looks like after about an hour and a half of cooking.

Every ½ hour or so, use a bulb-type baster to transfer the liquid from the cavity of the turkey, to the top of the turkey.

If the turkey is getting too brown on the top before it’s done cooking, no worries, just put a piece of foil on the top of the turkey.

This isn’t required but if you happen to have a citrus tree in your patio or yard…..

…..add some of the leaves to the coals……

……during the last hour of cooking for some added flavor.

When the turkey’s done cooking, remove it from the grill on to a large platter to let it rest for about 30 minutes before cutting.

Using sturdy hot mitts, carefully remove the dripping pan from the grill.  Use these drippings to make your gravy.

Enjoy!

Deciding When to Start the Cooking Process

1)  First decide when you want to serve the turkey….hold that thought.
2)  Then do the math to determine how long it will take to cook the turkey; cooking time is 11 minutes per pound (without stuffing); (13 minutes per pound with stuffing)
3)  Then add 45 minutes for putting the starter coals in the BBQ and for them to get hot.
4)  Then add 30 minutes for the turkey to rest after it’s cooked.
5) Add all of the cooking times in numbers 2, 3, and 4 above to determine when to start.

For example;

1.  I want to have dinner at 5 pm.
2.  My unstuffed 19 pound turkey will take 3.5 hours to cook; 19 multiplied by 11 minutes = 209 minutes; 209 minutes divided by 60 minutes per hour = 3.48 hours; Which rounds to 3.5 hours
3.  Add 45 minutes for putting the coals in the BBQ and for them to get hot.
4.  Add 30 minutes for the turkey to rest after it’s cooked.
5.  The total time for the turkey is 4 hours and 45 minutes (3.5 hours, plus 45 minutes, plus 30 minutes).

I’ll need to start my 19 pound unstuffed turkey at 12:15 pm to have it ready for dinner at 5 pm.

Print

How to Barbeque a Turkey

Yield: Serves 15 - Based on a 19 pound Turkey

Ingredients:

For the Turkey:
Based on a 19 pound Turkey

1 Whole Turkey
4 tablespoons Melted Butter
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Ground Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt

For the Barbeque:*
1 Bag of Mesquite Charcoal Briquets (7.9 pounds)
1 Bag Match Light with Mesquite Charcoal Briquets (6.3 pounds)
A metal or aluminum disposable pan for the drippings that will be used to make the gravy (9” x 12.5”)

* Weber 22.5” Charcoal Kettle Standing BBQ
Charcoal Rack with Rails
Hinged Cooking Grate

Directions:

Determine when you should start the cooking process (see the explanation below on how to do this).

Preparing the Grill: To start, put some plastic gloves on and add 25 Match Light with Mesquite briquets on each side of the BBQ inside the charcoal rails. Since the Match Light briquets are infused with lighter fluid you’ll only use them for the initial stage of getting the coals hot. The coals added later in the cooking process will just be the regular (non-Match Light) charcoal briquettes. Carefully light up the coals with a fire starter. Let the coals get hot (about 45 minutes).

Preparing the Turkey: While the coals are getting hot, drizzle the melted butter over the turkey (in the cavity too). Then sprinkle the entire turkey (including the cavity) with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Cooking the Turkey: Once the coals are hot (they will turn a gray color), put the pan for the drippings in between the charcoal rails. Put the hinged cooking grate in the BBQ. Put the turkey on the cooking grate right over the dripping pan. Put the lid on the BBQ. Every hour, (starting from when the initial coals were added) add 10 regular mesquite coals (not the Match Light coals) to each side of the charcoal rails.

About 15 minutes after putting the turkey on the grill, take off the lid, open the hinged cooking grates, and add 10 regular mesquite coals to each side. Then put the lid back on. Then for every hour thereafter, continue to add 10 regular mesquite coals (not the Match Light coals) to each side of the charcoal rails. If the turkey is getting too brown on the top before it's done cooking, no worries, just put a piece of foil on the top of the turkey. Every ½ hour or so, use a bulb-type baster to transfer the liquid from the cavity of the turkey, to the top of the turkey.

This is not required but if you happen to have a citrus tree in your patio or yard, add some of the leaves to the coals during the last hour for some added flavor. When the turkey's done cooking, remove it from the grill on to a large platter to let it rest for about 30 minutes before cutting. Using sturdy hot mitts, carefully remove the dripping pan from the grill. Use these drippings to make your gravy.

Deciding When to Start the Cooking Process

1) First decide when you want to serve the turkey….hold that thought.
2) Then do the math to determine how long it will take to cook the turkey; Cooking time is 11 minutes per pound (without stuffing); (13 minutes per pound
with stuffing)
3) Then add 45 minutes for putting the starter coals in the BBQ and for them to get hot.
4) Then add 30 minutes for the turkey to rest after it’s cooked.
5) Add all of the cooking times in numbers 2, 3, and 4 above to determine when to start.

For example;

1. I want to have dinner at 5 pm.
2. My unstuffed 19 pound turkey will take 3.5 hours to cook; 19 multiplied by 11 minutes = 209 minutes; 209 minutes divided by 60 minutes per hour = 3.48 hours. Which rounds to 3.5 hours
3. Add 45 minutes for putting the coals in the BBQ and for them to get hot.
4. Add 30 minutes for the turkey to rest after it’s cooked.
5. The total time for the turkey is 4 hours and 45 minutes (3.5 hours, plus 45 minutes, plus 30 minutes).

I’ll need to start my 19 pound unstuffed turkey at 12:15 pm to have it ready for dinner at 5 pm.

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10 Responses to “How to Barbeque a Turkey”

  1. #
    1
    Justin — November 28, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Great post! I did a boneless turkey breast on the charcoal grill for my thanksgiving feast, it tasted amazing. The only thing I did different was that I soaked the breast in a salt brine the night before, that way I didn’t have to baste during the cooking process.

    Reply

    • CouponClippingCook — November 28th, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

      Hi Justin, what a great idea to soak the turkey in salt brine….I’m going to try that next time!

      Reply

  2. #
    2
    easyfoodsmith — November 29, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Lovely! The turkey is looking beautifully barbecued and so even in its colour. Being cooked on the bone, the turkey would have tasted delicious. Great post and thanks for step by step preparation details.

    Reply

    • CouponClippingCook — November 29th, 2011 @ 12:54 am

      Thank you very much!

      Reply

  3. #
    3
    Magic of Spice — November 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    What a great tutorial…my kids were talking about this recently. Looks amazing!

    Reply

    • CouponClippingCook — November 29th, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply

  4. #
    4
    Christine — November 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Great post. Turkey looks great. I bet it taste great.

    Reply

    • CouponClippingCook — November 29th, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

      Hi Christine, it sure did taste great. Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply

  5. #
    5
    Amy — November 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Whoa. The color on that bird looks so good! I’ve never had a grilled turkey, but that might just have to change this year!

    Reply

    • Nancy — November 9th, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

      Hi Amy, I actually have the kettle BBQ just to make my turkey each year. Just the smell alone while it’s cooking is so amazing and of course the taste of the turkey is wonderful too. Have a great day!

      Reply

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