How to Grill a Turkey

A true grilled Thanksgiving turkey is cooked over direct heat to give it the charred, crisp skin beloved by grill enthusiasts.
THE BASICS
grilled turkey

This cooking technique will give your Thanksgiving a more laidback feel. Break down the bird into breast halves, leg quarters and wings, since each of these parts cooks for a different length of time. Watch how-to cooking videos for test kitchen turkey tips and more.

 
GEAR UP
brining gear

To make grilled turkey for Thanksgiving, you'll need tongs and an instant-read meat thermometer.

 
HOW TO BREAK DOWN A TURKEY
turkey grilling 1

1. Arrange the turkey breast side up. Cut the band of skin holding the thigh to the body, then pull back the thigh to find the joint where they meet; cut through with a knife. Repeat on the other side.

grilling turkey 2

2. Grasp a wing and pull it firmly back to find the joint attached to the breast. Cut through with a knife; repeat on the other side.

grilling turkey 4

3. Arrange the turkey backbone side up. Using shears, cut away the backbone. Using a knife, cut out the breastbone, then halve the breasts.

Now that you have turkey parts, you can also use them in our 60-Minute Thanksgiving for our fastest holiday dinner menu.

 
3 WAYS TO FLAVOR A GRILLED TURKEY

Fennel-Coriander Rub
Using a spice or coffee grinder, process 2 tablespoons each toasted fennel seeds and coriander seeds with 1 tablespoon black peppercorns until finely ground. Using your fingers, loosen the oiled and salted turkey skin. Rub the mixture over and under the turkey skin before grilling.

Maple-Chipotle Sauce
Using a food processor, puree 2 cloves garlic and 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Add 6 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder and 1 teaspoon cumin. Brush onto the turkey every 10 minutes during the last 25 minutes of grilling.

Chile-Ginger Paste
Using a food processor, puree 1 cup cilantro leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 2 serrano chiles, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, one 1-inch piece fresh ginger, the grated peel and juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon each fish sauce and soy sauce. Wearing rubber kitchen gloves, gently loosen the turkey skin and massage in the paste under the skin.

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