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Home > Blog > How to cook a turkey on the barbecue

 How to cook a turkey on the barbecue

Date Created: 13/11/13
It's that time of the year again! Over the next few months, we are going to be bombarded with Christmas music, re-runs of Die Hard and Armageddon and children are going to increase the stress on parents with their holiday break... goes without saying that Christmas is a very stressful time of the year, but it is also undoubtedly the most enjoyable. For those of us lucky enough to have family and friends and the privileges of modern day life, Christmas is a wonderful occasion that should be shared and celebrated.

How to cook a turkey on the barbecue To do this, a hearty Christmas dinner should always be on the menu. Turkey is an American favourite that has become the number one meat at Christmas time here in Great Britain, and it can be a very exciting meat to cook (although, it can also be very boring).

So did you know that you can cook it on the barbecue?

Cooking turkey on the barbecue is a great way to free up space in the kitchen and add an extra dimension to the meats flavour. You don't need a huge barbecue, you don't need to douse the turkey in any special syrups - all you need are hot coals and a lid to maintain a constant temperature!

Here's how to cook turkey on the barbecue.

1. Prepare your turkey

Some people buy their turkey a month or so in advance and freeze it. Some people buy their turkey on Christmas Eve and throw it into the oven the next day. What we recommend you do is buy your turkey fresh on Christmas Eve and prepare it overnight. To prepare your turkey, we recommend you place it in a large bowl of mildly salted cool water. This soaks in to the skin (it does NOT dry out the meat). You should leave this overnight for around 8 - 12 hours, and then remove it. The next step is to place the turkey in to clean, un-salted water for an hour, changing the water in 15 minute intervals. This draws out excess salt and adds a layer of moisture in-between the skin and meat. Once the hour has passed, you can start to season your turkey with anything you like - stuffing in the cavity, honey glazed skin, a rosemary and thyme rub... whatever floats your boat, you can do it.

2. The barbecue

Whether you have a £1,000 super barbecue or a £90 basic barbecue, you can BBQ your turkey with very little fuss. Prepare the barbecue for roasting in the in-direct method. You should light your coals and leave them until they are all lit. The perfect appearance of the coals for turkey barbequing is black but with a grey coating. Once the coals are like this, bank them to the sides of your barbecue and place your turkey directly in the middle so the turkey cooks in an in-direct method.

You want the barbeque to be at a temperature of 180C. It will usually take 2 hours to cook a medium sized turkey at this heat. Because BBQ's are located outdoors where it is milder than inside, the temperature will likely fluctuate. Therefore a key accessory to have is a food thermometer, to check the internal temperature of the turkey after 2 hours. The internal temperature of your turkey should be 75C. Only when it is at 75C or above should it be served - if it is 74C, 73C or any lower, it is not fit for human consumption. Therefore, we highly recommend that you leave 20 or 30 minutes aside on top of the two hours cooking time to ensure that everything is timed well.


Your BBQ should be at 180C. It will take approximately 2 hours to cook a medium sized turkey at this heat.

If your turkey skin starts to burn, the coals are too shot. Increase and decrease the air flow to the BBQ to maintain a consistent heat.

Always check on the turkey in 10 - 15 minute intervals for progress.

Timings will vary according to weight, only remove from the barbecue when juices run clear and the meat temperature is above 75°C

Leave the turkey to rest for at least 45 minutes.

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