Grilled Turkey

  • Serves

    serves 12


This recipe for grilling a whole turkey—a method that yields a smoky flavor and crisp skin while freeing up oven space for side dishes—comes from Barbara Ries of San Rafael, California. Grilling works the best with a bird that's been soaked in a brine solution overnight.


For the Brine

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 (12-lb.) turkey

For the Rub

  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 12 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 14 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 oranges, zested and cut into wedges
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped


Step 1

Brine the turkey: Combine salt, lemon, orange, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and black pepper in a 12-qt. pot. Add 1 1⁄2 gallons cold water and stir. Squeeze lemons and oranges into the brine and add the squeezed halves. Submerge turkey in brine. (Weight the turkey down with dinner plates if necessary.) Cover pot with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and let come to room temperature.

Step 2

Make the rub: Combine garlic, parsley, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper, and orange zest in a large bowl. Using a fork or your hands, work butter into ingredients to form a paste. Rub turkey with the paste. Put orange wedges, onions, carrots, and 3 cups water into disposable roasting pan fitted with a rack and set turkey on top.

Step 3

Build a medium-size charcoal fire in a kettle grill, arranging the coals so that they cover only one half of the bottom grate of the grill. (For a smokier flavor, add soaked wood chips to the coals.) Place cover on grill and open the top and bottom vents of the grill. Let the coals burn until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the top vent of the grill registers 500˚. Transfer roasting pan to the top grate of the grill on the side of grate opposite the coals. Cover grill. (The temperature will drop to about 350˚.) After 30 minutes, cover breast with aluminum foil. Cook turkey, adding water to the roasting pan as necessary and replenishing the coals every hour or so to maintain a temperature of roughly 350˚. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the turkey's thigh, without touching the bone, registers 165˚, about 3 hours for a 12-lb. turkey. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let sit for 30 minutes before carving.

Pairing Note This smoky bird pairs well with the 2001 Bodegas Breton Criadores Rioja Reserva "Loriñon" ($18), with its roasted coffee tones and smooth fruit. —David Rosengarten

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