BBQ Smoked Turkey

BBQ a turkey.

My most ambitious BBQing ever – and we didn’t even do a practice run first.

We were cooking an 8.5 kilo bird, just under 20 lbs – and it’s not recommended to BBQ a bird bigger than that – you need about 25 mins at 250 degrees to cook the bird fully and much more than 7 hours and you’ve got a smokey turkey jerky.


We started the turkey the day before in a delicious brine solution from Hazelwood Herb Farm – make sure the bird is totally covered in the brine solution for max absorption!

spices, lovely spices

For the thanksgiving dinner, we used the regular turkey brine mix – and I dunno what was in it but it sure smelled like Christmas – very allspice, sage and cranberrish! – on a recent trip back, we bought 2 more of the same standard brine, plus the Tex-Mex mix. Can’t wait to BBQ again.

Update Dec 7: We did a second turkey with the Tex-Mex blend and it’ excellent! We also added a shot of espresso to the brine solution.

We bought a new container to do the brine – followed the directions on the mix package and made sure that the water fully covered the turkey.

When removing the turkey from the brine, we gave it a very good rinse to remove all excess salt.


I started the fires at 10:30 in the morning – a using a java firestarter (compress coffee grind log) burning Tennessee Oak charwood (aka lump charcoal made from oak, no coal & no chemicals) and a soaked cherry wood log from my Mom’s tree – cut down last year.


You get sooty handling the charwood, but the flavour is sooo worth it.

I got the fire roaring and then closed the dampers to maintain the heat.

The turkey cooked between 275 and 300 from about 10:30 to 5:30 – I add more fuel every 30 mins to half hour – I probably used about 10 lbs of charwood and 5 cherry wood logs of about 18 inches each.

I didn’t measure, but picked fresh herbs from the back garden – 2 kinds of rosemary, spicy basil, summer savory, 2 kinds of sage, 2 kinds of thyme and garlic put it in the chopper with vegetable oil and butter to make a thick green smooth paste.  We put it outside, and next time, it’ll go under the skin.

Dec 7 Update: To late to have fresh herbs, so we put a garlic butter under the skin – and it was certainly crispier – it also didn’t blacken the bird – which I guess was really the herbs we’d left on top – so definitely,  butter and seasonings under the skin. We also put an onion and a cut up lemon in the cavity – more flavour!

Smoke Dogs

Puppies in the smoke country – where the flavour is.


We also put a pan under the turkey to catch the drippings and filled it with water. This allowed the drippings to not dry out and adds steam to keep the bird moist.

We did accidentally let the pan boil dry – but I think this really enhanced the drippings with an undertone of deep smoke – we monitored the pan through a peep hole and added water twice during cooking.

You really don’t want to open the lid to let too much smoke and heat escape.


At 4:30 we opened the lid to test and to baste. The first baste was melted butter, minced garlic and parsley.

Dec 7 Update: We basted the Dec Tex-Mex brined bird with the seasoned Hazelwood Herb Farm paprika and lime-chipotle butters  – super yummy!

Here you can see a tiny snip from the breast and inner thigh – look at that pink smoke ring!

bird of flavour

Here’s the turkey just before we took it off the grill. I had placed it on a BBQ roast rack, over the pan for water.

Here, it’s so cooked and tender that the legs are drooping – I had to pull them off before lifting the turkey, because they were about to fall off on their own.


Once inside, tenting it critical to letting the meat have a rest and the juices to settle.

Sorry, once the tent was removed, there was just carnage and no time for photos.

As excellent as the turkey was, the gravy made from the drippings was totally mind blowing.

I have never wanted to bath in anything that wasn’t water as badly as this gravy.