Tips to grill your Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings

11/25/2014, noon
Thanksgiving can mean too many cooks in the kitchen, so consider taking some prep outside. While grilling is usually associated ...

— Thanksgiving can mean too many cooks in the kitchen, so consider taking some prep outside. While grilling is usually associated with summer, more Americans are recognizing its year-round potential. 

In fact, 80 percent of North American households own a grill or smoker and 60 percent use it year-round, according to recent statistics from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. It’s no surprise that many Thanksgiving recipes can be reinvented outdoors.

“Grilling your bird over lump charcoal creates a succulent, flavorful entrée,” says Don Crace, President of Cowboy Charcoal, a brand that caters to grilling purists of the charcoal variety.

For a uniquely smoky flavor sure to impress the crowd, try this recipe for Cowboy’s Perfect Bourbon-Maple Smoked Turkey:


• 1 thawed or fresh turkey

• 1 onion

• 2-3 garlic cloves

• 3 sprigs rosemary

• 3 sprigs thyme

• 1 bay leaf

• Olive oil

• Salt (at least 2 cups)

• Pepper

• Cowboy All Natural Lump Charcoal

• Hickory wood chips

• 1 cup bourbon

• 1/2 cup real maple syrup


• Remove neck, giblets and excess fat from turkey. Make gravy from giblets and neck, if desired.

• Completely rinse turkey inside and out.

• Place turkey in large brining bag that will fit in your refrigerator.

• Create brine with 2 gallons water (or enough to cover turkey), 2 cups salt, 1 cup bourbon and 1/2 cup maple syrup.

• Refrigerate at least four hours.

• Remove turkey from brine, rinse and thoroughly pat dry.

• Add onion (sliced in half), garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to inside of turkey. Season the inside with salt and pepper.

• Tie legs together with cooking string and twist wing tips under the back or cover with foil to prevent burning.

• Brush outside of turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

• Soak a full package of Cowboy’s Hickory Wood Chips in a large bowl for 30 minutes.

• Place a foil pan below the grate on one side of grill to catch drippings. To prevent excess smoke, fill it halfway with water.

• On the other side of grill, add two pounds charcoal and light it.

• Drain water from wood chips.

• When lump charcoal is ash gray, add about one cup of wood chips to the fire. Place grate back on grill. Let preheat for about 10 minutes.

• Arrange turkey on the grate, above the pan.

• Place lid on grill and cook turkey for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound, until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

• Add additional wood chips and charcoal every 30 minutes or as needed.

• When done, transfer turkey to serving platter, cover with foil and let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Turkey isn’t the only food to take outdoors on Thanksgiving -- impart dynamic, smoky flavors to vegetables, fruits and even desserts by grilling over charcoal.

For year-round outdoor cooking tips, as well as food safety handling tips, visit the Cowboy Charcoal Blog, “The Roundup” at www.cowboycharcoal.com/blog.  

Cooking outdoors knows no seasonal bounds. Delight Thanksgiving feasters by grilling your bird and the trimmings.