How to Grill a Perfect Turkey
Meat Master Bruce Aidells shows us his fool-proof technique for grilling a Thanksgiving turkey on a gas grill
If you want smoky flavor, use wood chunks or chips. My favorites for turkey are fruit woods like apple, cherry, or peach. Soak about 12 chunks in water for at least an hour, or 2 cups of chips for 20 minutes.
- Pull off the leg truss. You want hot air circulating through the bird, and that can't happen when the legs are tied together.
- Reach into the main cavity and pull out the bag of giblets. Fish around for the neck too. Sometimes it's in the neck cavity.
- Then drain it and pat it dry inside and out--it'll crisp up better.
Now mash up your herb butter. This is going to give a lot of flavor to the turkey and also get the skin really crisp and brown.
Herb Mustard Butter
- 1 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 2 tsp. finely chopped sage
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Spread about 2 tbsp. herb butter all over the inside of the main cavity. Then, starting at the breast end, loosen the skin as far as you can go, partway down the legs.
- You have to get up close and personal with it ... This works better if you have small hands and short nails. Now spread the rest of the butter under the skin, all over the turkey.
- Pat your turkey to even out the lumps of butter. Wrap the wing tips and drumstick ends with foil so they don't char.
Track the Temperature
The most important thing is to know when your turkey is done, so a good thermometer is critical.
The best for beginners: a cord-style one specifically for grilling. Before cooking, insert the wand into the thickest part of the breast to the bone, and leave it in; a digital readout shows temperature and beeps when it's done.
Or, use an instant-read thermometer. The fastest and most accurate is the Super-Fast Thermapen. It gives you a reading within 3 seconds. Start checking after 1 1/2 hours.
- Tent the turkey with foil if it gets too dark.
- Throw on some more wood if it's burnt up.