Grilled Rotisserie Turkey

Let’s talk turkey. Not just any run of the mill ordinary oven roasted turkey.  Let’s talk grilled rotisserie turkey. Quite possibly the best tasting turkey to ever cross your lips. At least, in my (humble) opinion. If you have a heavy duty rotisserie attachment for your grill, then trust me, you will want to try grilling a turkey like this. If you don’t, well then, you might want to drop everything you are doing and run to your nearest home improvement store to get one for your grill ASAP!

One of my boyfriend’s gifts for the holiday was a rotisserie attachment for his Weber grill. He buys me bling for my stand mixer and I buy him bling for his grill. That’s the deal we have. Quite symbiotic if I do say so myself.

Now, we have grilled turkey before, but never quite like this. I don’t know if it was the brine that I bathed the turkey in for 2 days, the addition of herb butter, onions, apples, carrots,  and lemons to the cavity, or if it was the beer soaked wood chips that gave it such great flavor.  I think it was really the combination of everything that made this turkey one of the most succulent melt-in-your-mouth tasting turkeys this side of the Mason Dixson.

I found the brine recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog, (Ree Drummond) and tried it out on my oven roasted turkey at Thanksgiving. It was so juicy and tender that it practically melted in our mouths. To sell my point a little more, my daughter who claims to not like turkey at ALL could not get enough of it.  You can visit Ree’s blog for more details on the brine and how to cook the oven roasted turkey.

However, today we are talking grilled rotisserie turkey.  I’ll take you through the step by step process of how to get the best tasting turkey you may ever had the pleasure of eating. If that sounds a bit arrogant I apologize, but even my boyfriend’s brother couldn’t stop talking up our turkey at Christmas dinner.

Let’s begin. I bought a 15 lb fresh Butterball hormone-free turkey. It’s best to use a fresh turkey and not a previously thawed turkey when brining. You’ll need a large brining bag or extra large ziploc bag for your turkey. You will also need a heavy duty rotisserie attachment, quality meat thermometer, and baster.

For the brine you will need

Grilled Rotisserie Turkey
Turkey Brine -Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Turkey Brine Recipe Blog
  • 2 Gallons of Water
  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • 1½ cups kosher salt (or iodized salt)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 5 cloves fresh chopped garlic
  • 5-7 whole bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 large orange peels in large pieces ( I sliced my right off the orange with a knife)
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons of pepper corns
  • 6 tablespoons fresh rosemary (or about 6-9 stripped sprigs)
  1. In a large stock pot pour in 1 gallon of water and add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and turn off stove.
  2. Let cool completely.
  3. I prepare my brine the night before to give it plenty of time to cool down.
  4. You can put pot in the fridge
  5. overnight.
  6. Mine was just fine sitting on the stove.
  7. You will want to give yourself at least 24-36 hours of brine time.
  8. Please refer to picture tutorial for further instructions.

Now I ask you. How beautiful is that!?  Oh, andah your house is going to smell amazingly spice-y and citrus-ey! Once it comes to a rapid boil, be sure to turn off the burner and let it cool.  Even if you are going to place it in the fridge overnight make sure it has cooled for a couple of hours or so.

I reserve a gallon of water and simply pour it in the brining bag, rather than try to lift and pour two gallons of water into a bag. The guns ain’t what they used ta be if ya know what I mean!  Plus, by reserving a gallon, it allows the pot to cool down much faster.

Time for the turkey bath! Remove your turkey from the refrigerator and make sure to remove the giblets, neck and all that good stuff. I never use mine, so I just toss them in the trash, but if you want to add them to your turkey gravy, then by all means, put them aside. Yes, I’m even going to give you a recipe for the best tasting turkey gravy too!

Rinse and pat your turkey dry. Place it in your large brining bag.  I found some bags at Bed Bath and Beyond, but Ziploc has this extra large bag that works great.  I like the reinforced  zip loc protection.  The other bag had an “iffy” zipper lock. Either way, your choice.

Pour the brine into your bag. You may want to have someone help you with this step.

Now, pour your remaining gallon of water into the bag. A great tip is to place the bag in a large roasting pan and then pour the brine in. Have you ever lifted a two gallon water ballon that just happens to have a 15 lb turkey in it? I have! Press as much air out of the bag as possible, and tightly seal the zipper lock.

Place the roasting pan into your refrigerator. If you are like me and really don’t have the room, I use a large cooler and keep plenty of ice on hand.  This will require checking on it every so often and adding more ice.  About 12-16 hours in, flip your turkey over. This is so both sides have plenty of time to soak up the brine.

See you back here in about 24 to 36 hours!  In the meantime, you can make up this wonderful herb butter that you are going to slather all over your turkey.

Herb Butter: 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature. I didn’t measure out my ingredients so use as much or a little as you’d like.  Place the soft butter in a bowl add some sea salt over top of the butter. No more than a teaspoon. Add fresh chopped garlic, minced red onion,  finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley (I used fresh.) Now, mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until all the ingredients are incorporated and turn out onto a piece of medium sized plastic wrap and roll the butter into a log. Tightly twist off both ends and you have yourself one tasty herb butter log. Place back in fridge until needed.

Remember to flip your turkey half way through the brining process.

Great to see you back! We are getting close to the good part. I promise! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Let your turkey sit out at room temperature for about half and hour to take the cold edge off. Get out your herb butter and bring to room temperature as well. Empty bag down the sink drain and rinse your turkey throughly. Pat dry.  I usually lay the turkey bag down on the counter and place a good amount of paper towels down  on top to pat dry and finish up the process.

This is also a good time to have your grill on. If you are using beer soaked wood chips/smoker, (optional) you may want to turn the grill on high and get the chips smoking an hour or so before. We usually forget and mess this step up, because the grill is going to be at a low temp while cooking the turkey. But no worries. With or without your turkey is going to be savory.  A great tip is to use your grill a day ahead of time and and cook some thick juicy steaks or chicken on it. Then, the next time you use the grill, the wood chips will be at their peak smokiness.

While your chips are getting cozy in the fire, take a shallow aluminum roasting pan and add one whole sliced fuji apple, 1 whole sliced lemon, and half of a sliced red onion.  Throw in some baby carrots and some cracked sea salt and pepper. Reserve some of the fruits and veggies to stuff inside the turkey. Pour in chicken stock until bottom of the pan is covered. This pan is going to get placed in the middle of the grill and catch the drippings of the turkey, so make sure your pan is large enough for that to happen. Why? Because it’s going to produce some of the best tasting turkey gravy you have ever tasted. That’s why!

Next, slather some of the herb butter inside the turkey cavity, and a little up under the breast skin.  Try not to go too far under as you don’t want the skin falling off. Rub the herb butter on both sides of the turkey and get the wings and drumsticks too! I usually just grab a hunk of butter and massage the turkey with my hands. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the herb butter for the gravy.Place the reserved fruit and veggies medley inside the cavity. Don’t worry if these fall out while the rotisserie spins. It will be fine. They are simply there for added flavor. Remember, you will be basting the turkey towards the end, so all that juicy goodness is going back on Mr. Turkey!

You will need some wire or heavy duty string to tie the wings and drumsticks so they don’t flop around. Secure your turkey tightly to the rod (per rotisserie instructions) and place on the grill.  We have a Weber 3 burner grill so we turn off the middle burner and leave the two end burners on the lowest setting.  You are going to want to grill your turkey around 275-300 degrees. We we also have a temperature reading on our grill lid. Very convenient. A turkey can cook faster on the grill and it took our 15 lb. turkey about 2 1/2 hours to 2 hours and 45 minutes to cook. Just be sure to keep watch.

When ready to use your meat thermometer, place it in the thickest part of the thigh to get an accurate temperature reading. You’ll want to take the turkey off when the temperature reads between 160-165 degrees.  No higher.

Okay, make sure your pan for the drippings is strategically placed. You don’t won’t to miss one drop of that savory fruity turkey business.

Have the turkey baster handy, because as the turkey drippings fill the pan you can simply squeeze them up and transfer all the drippings to a measuring cup.  You’ll want to accumulate about 2 cups of drippings.  Reserve some of the drippings in the pan for basting towards the end of the process.

Time to be patient. Do your best. I can assure you, the smell is going to draw neighbors to your backyard. Place the grill lid down and let it do it’s thang honey!

Check on your turkey every so often to make sure everything is copasetic.  This is the time when you will be collecting the drippings.  Try not to baste just yet.  It’s not quite time. Put the lid back down…And. Step. Away. From. The. Grill.

When your turkey looks like this, it’s getting to be just about done. But don’t rely simply on color. Use your meat thermometer to check the temperature. This is also around the time when you’ll want to start basting your turkey with it’s juicy drippings.  You should have your 2 cups of drippings collected at this point.  Time to go inside to make that gravy goodness that you are going to pour all over your plate!  Don’t forget to put that lid back down!

For the gravy you will need 3 tablespoons of the herb butter melted on med low heat in a medium size pot. Once melted, increase heat to medium high and add 5 tablespoons of flour and whisk together. This is your roux. Add 1/4 cup white wine (optional) and your 2 cups of drippings. Add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chicken stock and 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream.  Whisk on med high heat until it gravy thickens up then simmer.  Add some fresh cracked pepper and tiny bit of sea salt.  Adjust to your taste.  If gravy is too thin, add more flour. If too salty add a little water. Gravy is very forgiving.  I don’t have any pictures of my gravy, buuuuut oh my goodness, oh my goodness, it tastes soooooo good!

Once your turkey has completely cooked to 160-156 degrees remove it from the grill and place on a platter.  Let it rest for half an hour to 45 minutes before slicing.  I know, an almost impossible feat.  Try to control the urge to pick at the crispy brown skin. And if that means fighting the rest of the family off with a stick, well, do what must be done!


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  2. avatar

    What if I am not planning on grilling, how do I get this full flavor in the roaster in the oven?

    • avatar

      Jenny, this was our second time using the brine. I first used it on my Tgiving and baked it in the oven. I stuffed the cavity w some onion, lemon, carrots. I also lined the bottom of the pan with same and pour a little chicken stock in pan too. Then I put some of the herb butter (recipe above)under some of the skin and rubbed it all over the turkey. This was our Xmas turkey using the same brine. The concept is the same regardless if you bake or grill it. Hope that helps.

  3. avatar
    Grandpa Billy McGowan

    This sounds like a recipe I will try this weekend. You talked your way through your recipe with commitment, confidence , so if you are so proud, then Ill start using this recipe. Usually I cook ribs and chicken for partys, but I just built a rottisserie from a 55 gal drum for a friend to cook a 40 lb lamb on thanksgiving, but the standard shaft could not support the weight since the backbone was not tied to the skewer properly. Anyway, I am going to try my new built Q/rotis. with a12 lb bird. I like your idea of puttying all the aromatics in cheesecloth inside. They tumble release flavor vet stay in one package. Now to you my new cooking friend,,, I have a 6 foot deep 4x4square concrete pit that I cook for the local VFW. I am old, grouchy, and tite with my $, so I buy turkeys in Nov. Cornbeef briskit around St.Pattys day.(thank the good lord that still allows us to celebrate one holiday without the race card being dealt.) Anyway,I stuff a cheap turkey with a cheap cornbeef brisket, let the flavors meld, and you can whatever. My friends like whatever I cook for them, and, if it dont taste exaeratly right, wrap it in bacon.

    • avatar

      Hi Grandpa Billy! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comment. What a great idea with the cheesecloth for the fruit and veggies. Kinda bummed I didn’t think of it! I hope you like the recipe and and put your own spin on it. It sounds as if you are more than capable of doing that!

      That truly was a fantastic turkey that year. This Thanksgiving I cooked an 11 lb turkey in the oven using a dry brine 3 days before the big day. It was just as delicious! I love trying different cooking methods and brines. Happy Holidays sir. Please let me know how it turned out for you.

  4. avatar

    Grilling turkey outdoors, on a rotisserie, introduces a whole new dimension to its flavor.


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