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Brined BBQ Turkey

November 29, 2011

Every year we spend Thanksgiving somewhere other than our own home.  And, every year we never have enough left overs to satisfy us with many turkey sandwiches.  I’ve learned to just go ahead and buy an extra Turkey to make at home.  Typically I get something small but I always do a whole turkey.  A few years back I had Thanksgiving at my father’s house where he made two turkeys one on the grill and one fried.  I loved the grilled one so much that I’m happy I had the chance to finally try it on my own.

Making a grilled turkey is very simple.  It’s more of the set it and forget it type of cooking.  I brined my turkey the day before and then made sure I had coals for the grill.  Every year for at least 5 years now I’ve used Alton Brown’s brining recipe.  It’s never failed.  You can view his full recipe here:

Since I live in southern California, and cannot store my turkey in a bucket in my garage letting the cold weather take place of my fridge, I have modified the recipe to allow me to brine in the fridge (oh and I’ve added a bottle of wine).

Brining Ingredients:

1 large brining bag from Williams-Sonoma
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
1 bottle of Chardonnay


Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.  If you’re impatient you can add ice cubes to your brine and just use less water later.  Your brine should be cold when you place the turkey into it.

The day or night before you want to cook your turkey:
Using a clean sink – rinse your turkey and remove the giblets and turkey neck from the cavity of the turkey.  On the other side of your clean sink place your brining bag open with the flat bottom on the bottom of the sink.
Pour in your brine, the bottle of wine, and 1 gallon of water and mix completely. Carefully, lower your turkey breast side down into the brining bag. Seal the bag tightly. Because I’m using my fridge – I found that removing everything from one of my bottom drawers where I would normally keep veggies and placing the entire turkey into that area has worked best as the turkey is contained and this allows the entire turkey to be covered in brine. If this is not going to work for you, you can just turn the turkey over in the brine every few hours.

30 mins before you are ready to BBQ your turkey remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Setting up your BBQ for your Turkey

Here are the directions I followed to BBQ my Turkey with a few small changes:

BBQ Turkey Ingredients:

1 bag if charcoal briquets.  I like to use the Kingsford Competition Charcoal Briquets.  They aren’t loaded with chemicals and seemed to keep their heat well.  You can use whatever ones you like but I typically don’t use briquets and thus had to go get some specifically for this recipe.
1 oven ready turkey, defrosted (the turkey in your brine silly!)
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 drip pan
Instant read thermometer

Get your turkey out of the brine, rinse thoroughly, and set on a large cutting board.

Go outside and set up your briquets in your charcoal chimney – if you don’t use a chimney you will need to place the briquets in a small bunch on each side of your grill and start them as you normally would.  I have a  22 1/2-inch grill and placed 50 briquets into my chimney and started it.

Make sure that your vents on the bottom of the grill are completely open, and the vents on your lid are also completely open.

Walk back inside – while your coals are getting hot rub your turkey with the oil then cover the breast, legs, and thighs in salt and freshly ground pepper.

When the coals are ready you will need to place the drip pan in the bottom middle of your grill and create two small bundles of coals on each side of the pan.  25 each side.  The link above calls for baskets to hold your coals but who has that??  Just place them to each side of the drip pan semi-grouped up.

Place your top grate on the grill positioning each hinged side of the grate over your two coal piles.

Place your turkey, breast side up, directly above the drop pan.  Place the lid on the turkey, set your time for ONE HOUR, and walk away and go do something else.

Every hour that your turkey needs to cook you will need to go outside, place 8 coals on each coal pile, close the lid and walk away again.  If you feel that your coals are burning too fast you may want to place the new coals on every 45 minutes.

Cook 11 to 13 minutes per pound or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone registers 180 degrees and the juices run clear.

Remove the turkey from the grill and let sit for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Have a gas grill or a bigger or smaller grill than I do?  Please refer to the changes that you will need to make based on this article.

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