How to Cook A Turkey On A Kettle

You can smoke on your kettle and the process is pretty easy.  You will have 2 different set-ups, depending on what temperature range you select. 

Preparing the turkey

Preparing the grill

  • For low and slow at 225-250 degrees:
    • Light a chimney starter that is filled a third of the way with charcoal (25-30 briquettes) and wait until it is ashed over.
    • Dump the lit charcoal onto one side of the charcoal grate.  Place a large drip pan right next to the charcoal. This will be used to catch drippings and also as a heat sink.  With lower temperatures, you will be able to get consistent and stable temperatures without major fluctuations when you have the charcoal all on one side.  Think of it this way, you can have more fun with your family than constantly having to monitor your grill and worry about if the turkey is going to be done.
  • For roasting at 275- 300 or 350-375 degrees:
    • Light a chimney starter that is filled about halfway with charcoal (50-60 briquettes) and wait until it is ashed over.
    • Dump the charcoal evenly on both sides of the kettle. Place a large drip pan in the center of the piles, this will be used to catch drippings and also as a heat sink. 
  • Place the cooking grate on and make sure that the hinged part of the grate is directly over the charcoal so that you can easily add more briquettes.
  • Keep the bottom vents locked in to about a quarter of the way open and start with the top vent halfway open. Control the temperature throughout the process by turning the top vent to being more open to get the temperature higher or closing it a little to cool it down. 
  • Cover the grill and adjust the lid so that the thermometer is over an indirect area so that you are measuring the convection heat/hot air, not the heat of the charcoal.
  • Allow your grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes and 5 minutes into the preheat add wood chunks to the lit charcoal in a line on the top.  Follow a 3:1 ratio of cherry and hickory for optimal flavor.

Time

  • Follow our guide for temperature ranges and minutes per pound here.
  • Check the temperature of the turkey halfway through the cook, three quarters of the way and then when you think it is done to make sure that you are on the right track to hit 165. This will help you monitor the turkey and make sure it is not over cooked!
  • If it is going to be cold where you live, like it will be here in the Midwest, then the turkey will take few extra minutes/pound to cook.  
  • The more you open the lid, the longer it will take to cook so be patient, relax and go watch some more football.
  • Add 9 unlit briquettes every hour on the hour to maintain temperatures. 
  • Halfway through your estimated cook time you will want to flip the turkey. If you have your charcoal all on one side of the grill, rotate the turkey as well it so that it does not cook too much on one side.

When is it done?

  • Keep in the mind that the turkey could cook a little quicker than you expect so be sure to have checked it halfway, three quarters of the way and then when you think it is done. If you are grilling a turkey for the first time and getting nervous, you can check the temperature each time you add the new charcoal.
  • Check the temperature of the turkey on the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast to make sure that it is fully cooked at 165 degrees before removing it.
  • This step is important! Let it rest for 20-30% of the total cooking time.  You can loosely cover the turkey with a piece of aluminum foil while it is resting or you can just leave it uncovered.
  • Before you carve into that beautiful bird, share your pictures on social media with us! #BestTurkeyEver

​Looking for more turkey inspiration?  Be sure to check out more tips here

What are your thoughts? (1)

01.08.17

Todd B

I married my bride in June 1985. One of the gifts we received was a charcoal Weber kettle. We has our first Thanksgiving together at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona and her entire family decided to join us for the holiday (in our tiny base house). The concern we had was having enough space to cook in that small kitchen with its very basic oven. I recalled seeing a recipe to cook a turkey with my Weber kettle instructions. So following the preparation and cooking instruction, we did our first Weber kettle smoked turkey for a family group of twelve. It came out heavenly and left the kitchen oven available to cook all the other food to go with our Thanksgiving meal. Thirty plus years later, we have yet to cook a turkey in the regular oven! Can't think of cooking turkey any other way. Exception, tried deep fat frying a turkey -- NEVER AGAIN! What a mess and dangerous. I'll stick to using my Weber with charcoal and apple smoke for the best tasting turkey ever!

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