Getting Ready to Grill Turkey

dr bbq two mentees at smoker


Turkey Smoke Team

Summertime marks the end of the school year and the beginning of adventures that await in the warming days ahead. From graduation celebrations, holidays and every day in between, nothing captures all that summer has to offer quite like backyard grilling

Turkey’s versatility as a protein makes it a great choice for cooking methods outside of traditional roasting. Whether you prefer your turkey smoky, seasoned or smothered in sauce, turkey can be enjoyed on the grill by anyone, anywhere!

Take it from us, you don’t need to be an experienced pitmaster to grill delicious turkey…you just need to know where to start. In the spirit of the season, we’re helping you Graduate to the Grill with this two-part series featuring the Barbecue Hall of Fame’s Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe. Learn from an expert about the basics of firing up the grill and what it really takes to get turkey cooking over the coals.

Graduate to the Grill: Part I

Graduate to the Grill: Part II

Turkey’s versatility makes it a prime protein option for any cooking method, but Dr. BBQ claims the benefits of grilling your turkey all come down to flavor and taste. Grilling opens a variety of flavor options from brining to marinades to rubs. Turkey naturally drinks in the spices and ingredients used to season it, so we encourage creativity when it comes to testing flavor profiles. And if you don’t know where to start, Dr. BBQ says you can’t really go wrong – and either way you get to eat your mistakes!

Can You Grill a Turkey?

Turkey, like other proteins, comes in a variety of different cuts that may be preferential depending on what you’re preparing. If you prefer shorter cooking times, try your hand at a breast, tenderloin or thigh, but don’t let longer cooking times intimidate you!

Dr. BBQ favors cooking a whole bird because the result gives you the most options (especially when it comes to leftovers). Plus, it’s still a shorter cook time than other popular barbecue meats.

Cooking Turkey on a Grill

Dr. BBQ agrees that turkey fits perfectly on the grill. But before you get grilling, it’s important to have the right set of tools.

Choosing a grill

Dr. BBQ recommends finding the perfect grill to suit your needs depending on preference of size, shape and function. According to him, you really can’t go wrong if it works for you!

Must-have tools for easy grilling

Having the proper grilling utensils is also key. Dr. BBQ’s top three must-have tools are:

  • Digital meat thermometer
  • Tongs or a pigtail flipper to flip the meat
  • A tool to clean the grill, such as a wooden grill scraper

These handy grilling essentials will have you covered from start to finish in the grilling process.

Having the right attitude

Last, but certainly not least, grilling is all about having a good attitude and being willing to make mistakes. According to Dr. BBQ, cooking outdoors is not an exact science and can even be a “magical” experience. The way we see it, all you need to get grilling is an interest and a big appetite!

Now, you understand the basics of grilling turkey. But even the pros agree, there is no perfect process when it comes to the grill. Dr. BBQ says to “just go for it” and find what works best for you. Even the most seasoned pitmasters make mistakes, so it’s important to be patient and enjoy the delicious experience!

Ready to put yourself to the test? Here are a few of Dr. BBQ’s turkey recipes to get you started: