How to Grill a Juicy, Perfectly Cooked Turkey on Charcoal

There’s something about the smell of a grilled turkey on a summer day that just can’t be beat. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or just want to cook a delicious meal for your family, grilling a turkey on charcoal is a great option. It’s relatively easy to do, and the results are always amazing.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of grilling a turkey on charcoal, from choosing the right turkey to preparing it for the grill. We’ll also provide tips on how to cook it perfectly, so you can enjoy a delicious and juicy turkey every time.

So fire up your grill and get ready to enjoy some of the best turkey you’ve ever tasted!

How to Grill a Juicy, Perfectly Cooked Turkey on Charcoal
How to Grill a Juicy, Perfectly Cooked Turkey on Charcoal
Step Ingredients Instructions
1 1 whole turkey, thawed Preheat your grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
Remove the giblets from the cavity and discard.
Brush the turkey with melted butter or oil.
Season the turkey with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices.
2 Charcoal Light your charcoal and let it burn until the coals are covered in ash.
Spread the coals out evenly in the grill.
3 Cooking time The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey.
A 10-pound turkey will take about 3 hours to cook.
A 12-pound turkey will take about 4 hours to cook.
A 14-pound turkey will take about 5 hours to cook.
4 Resting time After the turkey is cooked, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
This will allow the juices to redistribute and the turkey to be more tender.

Choosing the Right Turkey

When it comes to grilling a turkey, the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right bird. There are a few things to keep in mind when making your selection.


The size of the turkey you choose will depend on the number of people you’re serving. A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 pound of turkey per person. So, if you’re serving a crowd of 10, you’ll need a 10-pound turkey.


Turkeys are graded according to their quality. The two main grades are A and B. Grade A turkeys are the highest quality and have the best flavor. Grade B turkeys are still good quality, but they may have some imperfections.

Fresh vs. Frozen

You can choose between a fresh or frozen turkey. Fresh turkeys are typically more expensive, but they also have a better flavor. Frozen turkeys are less expensive, but they may not be as flavorful.


There are many different brands of turkeys on the market. Some of the most popular brands include Butterball, Jennie-O, and Pilgrim’s Pride. When choosing a brand, it’s important to read the label carefully and make sure that the turkey is free of hormones and antibiotics.


Once you’ve chosen your turkey, it’s important to store it properly. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, it should be stored in the refrigerator. If you’re buying a frozen turkey, it should be stored in the freezer.

Preparing the Turkey

Once you’ve chosen the right turkey, it’s time to start preparing it. The following steps will help you get your turkey ready for the grill.


If you’re using a frozen turkey, you’ll need to defrost it before you can cook it. The best way to defrost a turkey is to place it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. You can also defrost a turkey in a sink full of cold water.


Once the turkey is defrosted, it’s important to rinse it thoroughly under cold water. This will help to remove any bacteria that may be present.


Before you cook the turkey, you’ll need to trim any excess fat. This will help to prevent the turkey from becoming greasy.


Brining is a great way to add flavor and moisture to a turkey. To brine a turkey, you’ll need to place it in a large container filled with a brine solution. The brine solution is made up of water, salt, and sugar. You can also add other ingredients to the brine, such as herbs, spices, or garlic. The turkey should be brined for 24-48 hours.


After the turkey has been brined, it’s important to dry it thoroughly. This will help to create a crispy skin. You can dry the turkey by patting it dry with paper towels or by placing it in a warm oven for 30 minutes.

Grilling the Turkey

Now that your turkey is prepared, it’s time to grill it. The following steps will help you grill a perfect turkey.

Grilling the Turkey

Grilling a turkey is a great way to cook a delicious and juicy bird. It is also a relatively easy process, as long as you follow a few simple steps.

To begin, you will need to gather your ingredients and equipment. You will need a charcoal grill, a turkey, a basting brush, and some cooking oil. You will also need some seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Once you have gathered your ingredients and equipment, you can begin preparing the turkey. First, rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Then, pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Next, you will need to season the turkey. You can do this by rubbing the turkey with a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can also add other seasonings, such as dried herbs or spices.

Once the turkey is seasoned, you can begin grilling it. Preheat your charcoal grill to medium heat. Then, place the turkey on the grill, breast-side up.

Grill the turkey for about 30 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes or so with a mixture of melted butter and honey.

When the turkey is cooked through, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Caring for the Leftovers

After you have grilled your turkey, you will likely have some leftovers. Here are a few tips for storing and reheating your leftovers:

To store your leftovers, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to four days.
To reheat your leftovers, you can either microwave them or bake them in the oven. To microwave them, place them on a microwave-safe plate and heat them on high for about 30 seconds per pound. To bake them in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake them for about 15 minutes per pound.

Here are a few ideas for using your leftover turkey

Make turkey sandwiches.
Make turkey soup.
Make turkey tacos.
Make turkey chili.
Make turkey enchiladas.
Make turkey pot pie.

With a little creativity, you can use your leftover turkey to create a variety of delicious and satisfying.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is The Ideal Temperature For Grilling A Turkey On Charcoal?

Answer: The ideal temperature for grilling a turkey on a charcoal grill is between 325°F to 350°F. Maintaining this range ensures even cooking without drying out the meat. Use a grill thermometer to monitor the temperature closely.

2. How Long Should I Brine The Turkey Before Grilling?

Answer: Brining the turkey for at least 12 to 24 hours before grilling is recommended. This process helps to season the meat and retain moisture, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful turkey.

3. Should I Grill The Turkey Covered Or Uncovered?

Answer: It is best to grill the turkey covered. Covering the grill helps to maintain a consistent temperature, which is crucial for even cooking. It also helps to trap smoke and flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the turkey.

4. How Often Should I Check The Turkey While It’s Grilling?

Answer: Check the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes. This frequency allows you to monitor the grill temperature, check for flare-ups, and baste the turkey, if needed, without causing significant heat loss from the grill.

5. What Is The Safe Internal Temperature For A Cooked Turkey?

Answer: The safe internal temperature for a cooked turkey is 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the thigh and wing. Ensuring the turkey reaches this temperature is crucial for food safety.

Final Word

Grilling a juicy and perfectly cooked turkey on charcoal requires attention to detail, but the results are well worth the effort. Start by selecting a fresh turkey of appropriate size and preparing it with a flavorful brine or rub. Ensure your charcoal grill is clean, and set up a two-zone cooking area for indirect grilling. Maintain a consistent temperature and use a meat thermometer to check the turkey’s internal temperature, aiming for 165°F in the thickest part of the breast. Remember to let the turkey rest before carving to redistribute the juices.

The key to success lies in patience and monitoring. Regularly check the coals to maintain a steady temperature and avoid flare-ups. Basting the turkey periodically can enhance its flavor and juiciness. With these techniques, you can achieve a golden, crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat that will be the highlight of any gathering. Embrace the process and enjoy the satisfaction of serving a perfectly grilled turkey to your friends and family.

Author Profile

Mike Thompson
Mike Thompson
Hello, fellow turkey enthusiasts! I'm Mike Thompson, a proud resident of the picturesque state of Missouri, renowned for its thriving turkey population and favorable hunting conditions. For over a decade, I've roamed the woods, valleys, and peaks of our beautiful state, learning every nook, cranny, and secret that turkey hunting has to offer. My track record? Well, let's just say I've bagged more turkeys than there are days in November, and each hunt has added a story to my ever-growing book of experiences.

However, as much as I love the thrill of the hunt, what truly fuels my passion is the joy of sharing my knowledge with others. That's why I created this platform. This site is not just a testament to my journey but a beacon for all those who are looking to embark on their own turkey hunting adventures. Whether you're a beginner eager to get started or a seasoned pro seeking advanced tips, you'll find a wealth of information here.

From understanding turkey behavior, tracking techniques, and the best equipment to use, to the do's and don'ts of turkey hunting, this site is a comprehensive guide to all things turkey. So, strap on your boots, pick up your gear, and let's embark on a journey together into the world of turkey hunting. Welcome to my site, and happy hunting!