How Long to Cook a Turkey on a Gas Grill: A Step-by-Step Guide to Grilling the Perfect Turkey

I love to barbecue turkeys because they take up less oven space when I’m hosting a holiday dinner and they’re a great way to save oven space if you’ve ever wondered if you can grill a turkey for Thanksgiving. I’m going to share one of my best methods for cooking an entire turkey that will be done in a few hours. The result is golden, juicy turkey with crispy skin, you’re going to love it!.

It’s akin to smoking a turkey, but grilling one doesn’t call for flavored wood chips, so the flavor is more reminiscent of roast turkey. Grilling turkey is a delightful activity that mainly requires no hands-on assistance, save from basting it occasionally. All you need is a few basic seasoning ingredients and roughly ten minutes of prep time!

It’s not absolutely necessary to brine the turkey in advance to ensure extra moisture and juicy meat, but it’s a great way to ensure delicious results when grilling. It’s definitely a bonus.

So this Thanksgiving, grab your turkey, fill up your propane tank, and enjoy this recipe for grilled turkey along with some amazing side dishes!

This year, try my roast spatchcock turkey recipe for something a little different (and much faster!). It’s the quickest way to roast a whole turkey, just like butterflied chicken!

Are you tired of the same old roasted turkey? Do you want to free up your oven for all the delicious Thanksgiving side dishes? If so, then grilling your turkey is the perfect solution!

Grilling a turkey is a simple and easy way to cook a delicious and juicy bird. Plus, it’s a great way to impress your guests. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process, from prepping your turkey to grilling it to perfection.

How Long to Grill a Turkey?

The general rule of thumb is to grill your turkey for 11-13 minutes per pound However, the actual cooking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey and the temperature of your grill

Here’s a helpful chart to give you an idea of how long to grill your turkey:

Turkey Weight Approximate Cooking Time
10-12 pounds 2-2.5 hours
12-14 pounds 2.5-3 hours
14-16 pounds 3-3.5 hours
16-18 pounds 3.5-4 hours
18-20 pounds 4-4.5 hours

Prepping Your Turkey for the Grill

Before you start grilling, you’ll need to prep your turkey Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Thaw your turkey completely. This is very important. Do not cook your turkey unless it is 100% thawed. You can learn more about thawing a turkey here.
  2. Remove the giblets and hock lock. The giblets are the neck, heart, and gizzards of the turkey. They are usually found in a bag inside the cavity of the turkey. The hock lock is a small piece of cartilage that holds the legs together. You can remove it with a sharp knife.
  3. Brine your turkey (optional). Brining is a process of soaking your turkey in a salt-water solution. This helps to keep the turkey moist and flavorful. You can learn more about brining here.
  4. Pat the turkey dry. This will help the skin to brown up nicely on the grill.
  5. Butter the turkey. Rub the turkey all over with softened butter or ghee. This will help to brown the turkey and also add to the juices that will gather in the bottom of the pan. These juices can be used to make gravy later.
  6. Season the turkey. Use as much salt and pepper as necessary to lightly coat the turkey. The amount will depend on how big your bird is, but don’t be afraid to apply liberally. You can also use our Turkey Seasoning if you want something other than salt and pepper.
  7. Stuff the turkey (optional). We stuffed this bird with an orange, lemon, onion, and garlic, but feel free to use whatever you wish! If you stuff with actual stuffing, you will want to increase the cook time appropriately.

Grilling Your Turkey

Now it’s time to grill your turkey! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat your grill to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the turkey on the grill, centered as much as possible.
  3. Close the grill lid and let the turkey cook for a total of 11-13 minutes per pound or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. at the thickest part of the bird and the juices run clear.
  4. Drop the grill temperature to 325 degrees F. The grill temperature will drop substantially after opening the grill to put the bird inside.
  5. Baste the turkey only once or twice during the cooking time. You can baste using additional melted butter or by taking the juices that have gathered in the bottom of your pan.
  6. Once the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. at the thickest part of the thigh and the juices run clear, remove it from the grill. Baste it first with the juices in the bottom of the pan and then let it rest for 30 minutes while covered with foil.
  7. Carve and serve your turkey immediately.

Tips for Grilling the Perfect Turkey

Here are a few tips to help you grill the perfect turkey:

  • Make sure your grill is clean and free of debris.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. This is the only way to really know if your turkey is fully cooked. The best place to check the internal temperature of a whole turkey is to place the meat thermometer in the thigh, not touching the thigh bone.
  • Don’t open the grill too often. Every time you open the grill, the temperature will drop. This can make your turkey cook unevenly.
  • Let the turkey rest before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful turkey.

Grilling a turkey is a simple and easy way to cook a delicious and juicy bird. With a little planning and preparation, you can grill the perfect turkey for your next Thanksgiving feast. Just follow the steps in this guide and you’ll be sure to impress your guests.

Additional Resources

How to Grill a Turkey

how long to cook a turkey on a gas grill

  • Prep. Set the grill to 425–450°F (220–230°C). I have a gas and charcoal grill, but I used the gas one for the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. Examine both ends! Trim any extra skin and remove any pin feathers with kitchen shears. Do NOT rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towels.

If you plan to make homemade gravy, don’t discard your giblets. Use them for flavor. See below for tips in the FAQs section on making giblet gravy.

  • Tress the legs. After tucking the wings in, season the cavity with salt and pepper. Using food-safe twine, truss the legs after stuffing the inside with fresh herbs, onions, and garlic cloves.

Not only does trussing the legs make the bird appear more tame, but it also protects its smaller parts from overheating too rapidly. We don’t want the legs burning!.

  • Season the turkey. Turkey should be placed breast side up in a disposable roasting pan. Melt butter and season turkey with salt and pepper using a silicone brush.
  • Place on the grill. Switch off the burner directly beneath the turkey, but keep the side burners lit. This prevents too much direct heat from being present for too long. The turkey will be cooked through because the indirect heat is very hot.
  • Cook the turkey. After 30 minutes, close the grill lid and fill the roaster’s bottom with one cup of water or chicken or turkey stock. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil if you see that it is browning too quickly.

how long to cook a turkey on a gas grill

  • Check on the turkey. Baste the turkey with the juices every 20-30 minutes. Rotate the roaster halfway through the cooking process, then keep cooking and basting until it’s done.
  • Check for doneness. Put a kitchen thermometer in the breast where it is thickest. Once the internal temperature reads 165°F/74°C, the turkey is done. Remove the turkey from the grill immediately.
  • Let it rest. Before carving, let the bird rest for at least thirty minutes and even up to an hour. This keeps the turkey juicy and moist by allowing the juices to settle and redistribute throughout the whole bird.

how long to cook a turkey on a gas grill

  • An hour before cooking, take the turkey out of the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • You will be grilling the turkey for up to three hours, so make sure you have enough propane before you start.
  • Always pat the turkey dry before seasoning. It helps create a nice crispy skin.
  • It’s simple to clean up when you use disposable oval aluminum roaster pans that fit your bird.
  • If your roasting pans aren’t sturdy enough to support the weight of the turkey, you might need to buy two extra of them.
  • The most reliable method of determining when your turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Although a leave-in thermometer is highly convenient, a smaller, less expensive thermometer such as this one is equally as effective.
  • Allowing the turkey to rest. Cutting too early will lose all the juices!.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Doesn’t require the oven. Make space in the oven for all of the other delectable things on your menu. The grill is fantastic not just in the summer but also during the winter holidays.
  • It’s incredibly easy. There is nothing intimidating or complicated about this straightforward recipe.
  • It’s so flavorful. While most grilling recipes call for a nice, flavorful char on the meat, I’m not sure you want that on an entire turkey. You still get amazing flavor grilling this way.
  • Moist turkey meat. No, grilling preserves the juices; in fact, brining the turkey increases its moisture content. With golden-brown skin, the results are spectacular!.

Here’s what you’ll need:

how long to cook a turkey on a gas grill

  • Turkey: Any size will do; however, I used a smaller 12-pound bird. Make sure that it’s completely thawed. See my comprehensive guide to turkeys for advice on when and how to thaw one.
  • Melted butter serves a few purposes and serves the same function as oil. It aids in turning the skin a lovely golden brown. It keeps the seasonings sticking to the outside of the turkey and the turkey moist. It also adds flavor.
  • Onions in yellow color
  • Fresh herbs: Using fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, and/or sage adds another layer of flavor to the dish in addition to the aromatics. So vibrant and delicious!.
  • Salt

How to Grill a Turkey on a Gas Grill


How long does it take to grill a turkey on a gas grill?

Bake on the preheated grill, basting every 30 minutes, until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 3 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

Do you cover turkey with foil when grilling?

We’ve found that covering a turkey in foil yields much moister results than roasting it without foil, and we favor simply covering up the breast to even out cooking time. Some people swear that roasting a turkey breast-side down and flipping it halfway through achieves the same results as a foil covered breast.

How long does it take to cook a 15 pound turkey?

Turkey Weight
Cooking Time
12 to 14 lb
8 to 10
2 3/4 to 3 hours
15 to 18 lb
10 to 12
3 1/4 to 4 hours
18 to 20 lb
12 to 14
4 to 4 1/4 hours
20 to 22 lb
14 to 16
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours

How long to cook a Turkey on a gas grill?

The cooking time for a turkey on a gas grill will vary depending on the size of the turkey, the temperature of the grill, and the desired degree of doneness. For a general guideline, plan on cooking a turkey for 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, a 10-pound turkey will take about 3 hours to cook.

Can You Grill a Turkey on a gas grill?

When grilling a turkey on a gas grill you will want to use wood chips. I like to use 2 handfuls of cherry and 1 handful of hickory . Soak the wood chips in water or beer before you use them for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can put the wood chips in a smoker box or in a built in smoker box if your grill has one.

How long do you cook a turkey breast on a grill?

Place turkey, breast-side up, on a metal grate inside a large roasting pan. Place the roasting pan over indirect heat on the preheated grill. Grill until the internal thigh temperature is 180 degrees F (85 degrees C), 2 to 3 hours. Remove from the grill and let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.

How do you cook a frozen turkey on a grill?

Start cooking the turkey on one side, flip to the other side, flip again so the breast is up and the legs point to the back of the grill, and finish with the breast up and the legs pointing to the front of the grill. Easy enough but be careful. That gobbler gets hot. Thawing Tip – Allow 6 hours for every pound of frozen turkey.

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