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Smokey-Sweet Grilled Turkey

  • Serves: 12
  • Cook Time: 4 1/2 Hours
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  • Smoky-Sweet Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup dry red wine or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • 12 to14 pound whole turkey, thawed completely if frozen
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Twine


  1. General Turkey Prep Directions (separate directions provided below for charcoal or gas grills):
  2. Be sure turkey will fit under grill lid. There should be 1-inch space between top of turkey and grill lid.

  3. Remove neck and giblets from both cavities. Rub turkey all over with butter, salt and pepper. Tie legs together to hold shape.

  4. For covered charcoal grill: remove grill rack and completely open grill’s bottom vents. Place 5 to 6 dozen charcoal briquettes in bottom of grill; ignite and heat until covered in white ash. Use tongs to push white briquettes to either side of grill, clearing a large, shallow, rectangular space in center. Place a disposable foil pan between briquettes, in cleared space, to catch drippings. Oil cooking rack and return to position on grill. Place turkey on oiled cooking rack. Place lid on grill and open vents.

  5. Grill temperature should stay steady at 325 °F to 350 °F. For charcoal grill, depending on outside temperature, wind conditions and high altitudes, briquettes must be replaced at least every hour. Heat another 2 to 3 dozen briquettes in a chimney starter until they’re covered with white ash before using.

  6. For covered gas grill: Prepare for indirect grilling by preheating (about 10 minutes) grill set on medium-high. Place turkey, breast side up, on roasting rack set inside a large heavy-gauge foil pan. Add 1 cup water to bottom of pan. Place in center of cooking rack. Place lid on grill and reduce heat to medium. (Be sure burners just below turkey are off.)

  7. After 1½ to 2 hours, check internal temperature of turkey with food thermometer.

  8. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, cook turkey to higher temperatures but not to exceed 170 °F in the breast and 180 °F in the thigh.

  9. If turkey has not yet reached a safe internal temperature, then continue grilling (indirect grill method). This should take an additional 45 minutes for 12-pound bird, 1 hour for 13-pound bird, or 1¼ hours for 14-pound bird. About 20 minutes before turkey is done, remove grill lid and brush turkey with glaze. Replace lid.

  10. When turkey has reached safe internal temperature, remove it from grill, cover loosely with foil and let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Recipe Source

National Turkey Federation