How to Roast a Whole Turkey on the Grill

Make room in the oven this Thanksgiving by taking the turkey outside.

Turkey cookibng in roasting pan on an outdoor grill

Grill Roasted Turkey

Roasting the Thanksgiving turkey on the grill.

Photo by: Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

No matter how early we get up on Thanksgiving, oven space will be at a premium until dinner hits the table. Sweet potatoes, casseroles, rolls, various veggies, dressing and pies fight for rack space and most will end up waiting until the last minutes in deference to the star of the show - the celebrated Thanksgiving turkey. Often overlooked as soon as the weather grows cool, an easy solution is available for preparing a perfect turkey this Thanksgiving. Take it outside.

Although we tend to think of grill cooking as a contact sport designed for searing meat directly on metal grates, it’s easy to generate an even, indirect heat inside a gas or propane grill to effortlessly cook a whole turkey to moist, tender golden perfection.

Our recipe uses apples, onions, celery and sage to give the hallowed bird added flavor and to help keep things moist, but grill-roasting allows for virtually any recipe one might produce in your indoor oven. We love a good brine and your grill will too. Famous for your gravy? Grill-roasting in a roasting pan means those delicious drippings are available to work your magic.

For propane grillers, getting the grill temperature right is a snap, but charcoal lovers will likely need to add to the coals every hour or so during cooking to maintain cooking temperature. Grilling season just got a welcome extension.

Grill-Roasted Turkey

  • 1 whole turkey
  • 3 crisp apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp, etc.), sectioned
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sage
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Remove neck and giblets of turkey and pat dry.

Combine apples, onions, celery and sage in a bowl.

Fill cavity of turkey with apple mix, sew closed with twine and tie drumsticks together.

Brush skin of turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to coat.

Preheat grill to 450 degrees.

Place turkey in a roasting pan with grate and pour about a cup of water in the bottom of the pan to collect drippings.

Tent with aluminum foil and place on center of grill.

Close lid and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Cook for approximately 12-14 minutes per pound until reaching an internal temperature of 170 degrees, measured with a meat or instant-read thermometer at the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Resist the urge to check on the bird too often, which will release heat from the grill.

Remove foil for last 45 minutes or so of cooking to brown.

Remove turkey from grill and let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving

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