Last updated November 12, 2018
You don’t need a fancy, expensive barbecue to turn out a beautiful smoked turkey. A Classic Weber Kettle Grill, usually priced right around $100, will do the trick. Here are the basic steps for preparing a crowd-pleasing bird.
Rub That Bird
Start with a fully defrosted bird with all the innards removed. If I don’t buy a fresh turkey, I usually put the frozen bird in the refrigerator Monday morning.
We want to add lots of flavor. I’ve created an apple cider sea salt rub that gives the bird a beautiful golden color and sweet and salty skin, but feel free to use your favorite blend of herbs and spices. Once you master the technique, I’m sure you’ll be trying all sorts of fun combinations.
Be sure to rub the bird inside and out. If you have time, you can let it rest in the refrigerator overnight, but if you’re in a hurry, you can rub it and let it set on the counter while you’re prepping your grill. I like to wear gloves when working with raw meat, especially poultry. It makes clean-up so much easier.
Keep Track of the Temperature
The biggest complaint people have about turkey is that it can be dry, especially the breast meat. It’s a lot of work to create an entire meal of sides and desserts and also keep an eye on the bird. So let something else take care of that for you.
I rely on the Weber iGrill. I simply stick the thermometer probe into the breast of the bird. Then, using their convenient phone app, I click “start grilling” and select whole turkey. There’s no need for you to memorize the USDA food temperature guidelines. Weber has already programmed those details in for you.
Once your bird reaches that magic temp, the app will alert you on your phone while you’re watching the game. No more dry turkey. Thanks Weber.
Setting up the Grill
Now that the bird is ready, it’s time to prep the grill. I light my coals in a charcoal chimney. I stick a chimney starter in a brown lunch bag and crumble it up under the chimney. Light a few edges of the bag, and your coals will be ready in no time.
Once they begin to ash over and turn gray, dump them onto the bottom grate. Create an indirect zone in your grill by moving the coals into a U-shape with a set of tongs or heat-resistant gloves. Then, add a few more unlit coals and three wood chunks. I usually use hickory or pecan with turkey. Finally, add the top grill grate.
Add the lid, and adjust the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. Your goal is to have an internal temperature of around 300-350F degrees. If your kettle grill doesn’t have a built in thermometer, the iGrill can keep track of temps for four different items. I stick one probe down a hole in the top vent.
Then, I just look at my phone app to keep an eye on the temp of the grill. You can even use the app to set a temp range, so you know if the grill is getting too hot or too cold.
Time to Grill the Bird
Once the grill reaches 300-350F degrees, place the turkey over the indirect heat zone. Close the lid, set your iGrill app to turkey, and go watch the game.
After an hour, give it a spritz with apple cider, beer or water. This helps create that beautiful golden color and adds a little bit of moisture.
Once the app alerts you that the turkey is ready, remove it from the grill and cover it with foil. Let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour to help the juices nestle into the sweet spots for an extra juicy bird.
That’s it! You got this. Go ahead and change up the holidays this year. If you feel like you need a little more help, watch this smoked turkey how-to video.
How to Make Smoked Turkey on a Weber Kettle
- 12 lb turkey
Apple Cider Sea Salt Rub
- 1 tbsp raw sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
- 1/4 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and pat dry.
- Combine the rub ingredients. Pour over the turkey and rub inside and out.
- Place your Weber iGrill thermometer probe into the breast of the turkey.
- Heat the grill to 300-350F degrees, setting up an indirect heat area that the turkey will smoke over. Add the turkey to the grill and cover with the lid. Open the Weber iGrill app and select turkey, whole, not stuffed.
- After 1 hour, spritz with apple cider. Continue cooking until the iPhone app tells you it's done and your bird reaches an internal temperature of 165F degrees.
- Remove from the grill and let rest for 45-60 minutes before slicing.
If you cook a larger turkey, add a little more time. If you cook a smaller bird, reduce your cook time. The trusty thermometer will tell you when it's done, no matter the size.