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How to Grill a Turkey (Charcoal)

Flame-licked for flavor

Charcoal Grill:  Start with a clean grill rack, bottom tray and a disposable drip pan.  Ignite charcoal briquettes. As a guide, a 22-inch diameter grill needs about 50 charcoal briquettes.  Allow the coals to develop a white ash.  Carefully push the ashed coals as far as possible to the outside of the grill.  Place a disposable drip pan on the bottom tray in the center of the grill, between the coals, and under the turkey.  Place the top grill rack on the grill.  Place the turkey on the rack.  Cover grill.  You will need to add four to five charcoal briquettes each hour during cooking.

Turkey Grilling Guidelines

Whole turkey, unstuffed

Grill Time

Internal Temperature

8 to 12 pounds

2 to 3 hours

180°F. at the thigh


  • Purchase a whole turkey or turkey breast that will fit under a covered grill.  There should be one inch of space between the turkey and grill lid.
  • Turkeys weighing 16 pounds or less are best for grilling.
  • Do not stuff the turkey.
  • Grills vary greatly.  Only indicator turkey is cooked is a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registering 180°F.


Find more whole turkey basics here.