Barbecuing a Whole Turkey

  • Rinse the turkey inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Lightly brush with oil or melted margarine and sprinkle outside cavity with seasonings if desired.
  • Stuffing a whole bird for the barbecue is not recommended, since an uneven cooking temperature may not heat the stuffing to the required level safely.
  • Then, follow instructions for either a or b:

a. Place breast side up in roasting pan, preferably on a rack. Add ½ cup (125 ml) water to bottom of the pan. Place roasting pan on the barbecue. May tent loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. Place roasting pan directly on the that is grill preheated to medium heat.

b. Remove grill from barbecue and place a disposable drip pan on the coals. Put ½ – 1 cup of water in the pan. Make sure that the water level remains consistent during the cooking process. Return grill to position on barbecue. Preheat barbecue to medium heat. Place turkey directly on the grill, above the drip pan.

  • For barbecues with temperature settings, keep barbecue adjusted to 325º – 375ºF (160º – 190ºC).
  • Check periodically to ensure that either the roasting pan or the drip pan does not completely dry out. Refill with water as necessary.
  • Cooking temperatures of barbecues vary depending on size, make, etc. Cool weather and windy or damp conditions may also affect cooking times.
  • Your unstuffed turkey is done when the meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh reads 170º F (77ºC).
  • When cooked to perfection, barbecued turkey may have a slightly pink tinge, but this is normal. The temperature of the meat is the most important sign of doneness.

Approximate Barbecue Times for Whole Turkey



Unstuffed Turkey

8 – 10 lbs
(3.5 – 4.5 kg)

1 1/4 – 2 hours

10 – 12 lbs
(4.5 – 5.5 kg)

1 1/2 – 2 1/4 hours

12 – 16 lbs
(5.5 – 7 kg)

2 – 2 3/4 hours