The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey day is rapidly approaching. Have you decided how you are going to prepare the bird?

We have three favorite suggestions for preparing your turkey differently than the traditional oven-baked turkey. In fact, we leave the oven open for all accoutrement.

All of our ways are outside–on the grill, in the smoker, or fried. All are delicious! Our friends who host us for Thanksgiving do a turkey each way!

One of the favorites around the beach is smoking the turkey in the Big Green Egg or Memphis Pellet smoker. This allows you to have a wonderfully rich smoky flavor. Be careful not to over smoke in case some of the guests do not “love” that flavor. (Of course, why are you inviting these people?)

Finished turkey on the Big Green Egg

Everyone should try a fried turkey. It is very easy to do with the right equipment and especially quick, about 3-4 minutes per pound. Skin comes out extra crispy with a juicy inside.

Turkey ready for frying in the Timber Ridge Fryer

For a more conventional taste, the rotisserie on your grill is perfect. The rotisserie on a Fire Magic can hold up to 65 lbs, in case you want to cook more than one at a time. If you do not have a rotisserie, you can do indirect grilling.

Turkey on the rotisserie on a FireMagic

Special hints:

1. If you have not started to thaw the turkey, get to it. Larger turkeys can take up to 3 day in the refrigerator . If you run out of time, you can thaw in cold water in your refrigerator. Always cook the turkey completely thawed.

2. If you have time, you might want to brine the bird. You can brine for up to 2 days. Use any flavor of herbs that you like. A simple brine is one gallon of water with a half cup of salt and sugar. We like adding a variety of fresh herbs and garlic.

3. Make sure that you check all your equipment the day before. Do you have enough charcoal, wood chips or gas? If you are adding flavor wood to the smoker, make sure you have soaked it at least 2 hours in advance.

4. The best piece of equipment you can invest in is a high quality thermometer. Make sure that you test for accuracy ahead of time. For long cooks, I always recommend a thermometer that you can see without opening the hood of your smoker/grill/fryer.

5. Figure out approximate cooking time. This will depend on the temperature and size of the bird.

6. Take the guest of honor out of the refrigerator about 1 hour in advance.

6a. Mix your favorite herb with softened butter. Carefully lift the skin and rub the meat with the butter herb mix. Replace the skin and rub with the herbs.

7. Use drip pans to catch all the juice and make gravy later. We like to keep water with herbs in the pan under the bird to add extra moisture.

7a. Unless you like a full smoked turkey, smoke for about 1- 1 1/2 hours and then raise the temperature for the final roasting.

8. Use your thermometer to determine when the bird is done. Most people are after 160 degree breast and 170 for dark meat. Tent the white meat if the turkey is cooking unevenly. Remember the more you open the grill to look at it, the longer it is going to take. Just like the inside oven.

9. When the turkey hits your desired temperature, pull from the heat and let it rest at least 15 minutes for a small bird and up to 30 for a larger bird. Cover with foil to keep it warm.

10. Show off to all the guests and bathe in the accolades.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Send us photos of your dinner to or post on our Facebook Page. We want to celebrate your perfectly cooked meal!

P.S. Our family always does a marinated prime rib on the smoker. Great treat for those who do not like turkey. Yes, we like everyone full and happy.