Charcoal grilling a turkey results in incredibly juicy meat with a slightly smoked flavor. It’s surprising that more people don’t try it especially since it is faster cooking and far tastier than cooking a turkey in the oven.
My husband and I received a classic style Weber charcoal grill as a wedding present from my work colleagues back in 1991. We’ve used it so much over the years that it now looks a bit worse for the wear!
While the lure of an impressive, shiny new gas grill sometimes beckons as I gaze at our humble Weber sitting on the back patio, at the end of the day we stick with the charcoal grill for one reason.
The food cooked in it tastes so amazing!! In fact, I have yet to taste food coming from a gas grill that compares. Sorry Grill Ninjas. Just being honest!
Charcoal Grills Making a Comeback
It seems that younger generations are starting to realize this too as charcoal grills are making a comeback with pricey, heavily marketed models such as the Big Green Egg.
I will let you in on a little secret…
A classic Weber barbecue grill (must be the model with a lid) will do essentially the same thing for less than one-third the price! And, it will last for decades as our experience demonstrates (unlike gas grills that seem to get rusty so fast especially where I live in Florida).
Our Weber sits on our back patio, rain or shine and other than a broken handle (we just take the lid off with an oven mitt to compensate) and slightly faded color from black to dark grey, it is in perfect condition.
Roasting and Smoking a Turkey in a Charcoal Grill
Last year, we roasted our Thanksgiving turkey in the charcoal grill for the very first time.
It turned out so amazing, that we decided to do it again this year. A picture of the finished turkey after we removed the lid to bring it in the house for carving is above.
Once again, the turkey turned out juicy and delicious with just a touch of smoky flavor. Since we’re now 2 for 2 on the turkey charcoal grilling thing, I decided to post about it so that those of you that are interested can try it for yourselves.
Below is a picture of what the coals should look like before you start grilling. It takes about 20 minutes to get them flaming properly (we don’t use any charcoal starter).
Reasons to Charcoal Grill Your Holiday Bird
From my experience, there are five reasons why charcoal grilling a turkey is the way to go if you have one in the backyard.
First is the flavor. Charcoal-grilled turkey tastes more delicious than oven-roasted and even deep-fried. Juicy and slightly smoked with crispy skin. And, it would be far healthier than a fried turkey if you use a nasty cooking oil like canola as many people do.
Secondly, bone broth made from a turkey that is roasted and smoked on a charcoal grill tastes heavenly! Again, it is slightly smoky which is a nice change from typical umami bone broth flavor.
Another big plus is that the oven in the kitchen is free for other tasks when you put the charcoal grill to use for the holiday turkey. If you have a lot of folks coming over, this is helpful because the timing of when everything is done and ready to be served can get difficult if the meat takes up most of the oven time.
Fourth, a charcoal-grilled turkey cooks about 45 minutes to an hour faster than in an oven. Yep. Faster and yet juicier. Win-win.
Finally, clean-up is much easier too. Think about it. All the mess is outside where you can hose it down if necessary. No splattered oven that you have to auto or manually clean later. Easy peasy.
Do these pluses give you a reason to consider charcoal grilling your holiday bird this year? If you do take the plunge, let me know about your experience!
We intend to roast a smaller turkey and a whole duck on the charcoal grill for Christmas dinner this year. I can’t wait!
How to Roast a Turkey in a Charcoal Grill
How to charcoal grill a turkey that cooks faster than in a conventional oven and turns out juicier with a slightly smoky flavor your family will love.
Remove the giblets. Dry brine the turkey with salt and pepper the night before. Do not use additional seasonings as this would compete with the smoky flavor from the charcoal grill.
A couple of hours before you plan to start cooking, prepare the coals per the instructions for your grill. Make sure they are nice and red which indicates that they're burning all the way through.
When the coals are ready, place the stuffed turkey in the roasting pan. Add 2-4 cups of filtered water depending on the size of the bird and set on the top rack inside the grill.
Put on the lid and leave the vents open for smoke to escape.
After two hours, remove the lid and baste the turkey with the juices that accumulated in the pan. Repeat this once or twice more until the turkey is done.
A charcoal grilled turkey will cook about 45 minutes to an hour faster on average than an oven roasted turkey. Check for doneness by piercing the turkey with a knife and pressing on the skin next to the hole. If any blood comes out, leave for another half hour and then check again on another part of the turkey.
Once no more blood emerges, remove the turkey from the grill immediately to keep the meat from getting dry and take inside the house. Place the turkey on a platter to "rest" and proceed to make gravy with the drippings.
When the gravy is done, carve and serve the turkey with the rest of your holiday meal!