This Spatchcock Grilled Turkey recipe is the ultimate KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method for achieving a perfectly cooked, juicy whole turkey with minimal effort. By using the low and slow indirect grilling technique, you’ll create a beautifully golden-brown bird with crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat.

This foolproof approach not only frees up valuable oven space but also allows you to enjoy the outdoors while cooking. Whether you’re using a gas grill or charcoal grill, this method delivers consistent results you can rely on that will be perfect for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

5 Keys to the Juiciest Grilled Turkey

  1. Spatchcock it! Butterfly and flatten out the bird for even, much quicker cooking with golden crispy skin.
  2. Brine Your Bird. Dry brine the turkey the day before cooking to ensure maximum juiciness and flavor. This is crucial unless you’re using a sous vide method.
  3. Use Indirect Heat. Cook your turkey over indirect heat, mimicking an oven environment on your grill.
  4. Mind the Pull Temperature. Remember that the internal temperature will continue to rise after removing the turkey from the grill. Pull it slightly before it reaches the final desired temperature.
  5. Let It Rest. Allow ample resting time before carving. The turkey will stay plenty warm, so don’t rush this important step.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Frees up indoor oven space and won’t heat up your house during the warm months.
  • Cook outside for fresh air and sunshine.
  • Perfect for any season – I like to make these during the summer, too!
  • The leftovers go a long way so you can cook less all week.
  • Juicy and flavorful results!

What You’ll Need

  • Whole Turkey – A 12-14 lb turkey is ideal for this recipe. If it’s frozen, ensure it’s fully thawed before spatchcocking.
  • Kosher Salt – Diamond Crystal kosher salt is my preferred salt for dry brining.
  • Sugar – A small amount of sugar in the dry brine helps with browning and balances the salt. Brown sugar can be substituted for a slightly richer flavor.
  • Black Pepper – Ground black pepper provides the best flavor. Adjust the amount to your taste preferences.
  • Neutral Oil – Such as canola or vegetable oil. This helps the skin crisp up during grilling. You can also use olive oil if preferred.
  • Dry Rub (Optional) – If desired, use your favorite poultry seasoning blend or make your own with herbs and spices like paprika, garlic powder, and dried herbs. Avoid using a rub with salt if you brined the turkey.
  • Wood Chunks or Chips (Optional) – For added smoky flavor on a charcoal grill. Hickory, apple, or cherry work well with turkey.

See the full recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

turkey on the grill overhead 3

How to Grill a Turkey

Step-by-step instructions for grilling a delicious juicy turkey. Jump to the recipe card for all the details.

  1. Spatchcock the turkey by removing the backbone and flattening it out. Check out the guide and video for how to spatchcock a turkey.
  2. Apply a dry brine to the turkey, including under the skin.
  3. Refrigerate the turkey uncovered for 24 to 36 hours to allow the salt to penetrate all the way through the meat and for the skin to dry out.
  4. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking while you seet up your grill.
  5. Season the turkey. Drizzle on a little oil, then season with black pepper, and optional dry rub depending on the flavors you are going for.
  6. Preheat the grill to 300-350°F for indirect heat cooking using a two-zone grill setup.
  7. Place the turkey on the grill, skin-side up, with breasts furthest from the heat (legs closet to the heat).
  8. Grill with the lid closed until the breast temperature reaches 157°F, to allow for carryover cooking.
  9. Remove the turkey and let it rest for at least 20 minutes, but longer is perfectly fine.
  10. Carve and serve your juicy, flavorful spatchcock grilled turkey.
turkey on the grill vertical 2

Pro Tip: Whole turkeys can be found on sale for crazy low prices, especially right after a big holiday. I suggest stocking up on one or two you can keep in the freezer and enjoy in the turkey off-season.

How Long to Grill a Turkey

The cooking time for a spatchcock grilled turkey depends on several factors, including the size of the bird, the temperature of your grill, and the consistency of the heat. However, here’s a general guideline for grilling a spatchcocked turkey at 300-350°F:

Estimate about 10-12 minutes per pound for a spatchcocked turkey.

For example:
A 12-pound turkey will take approximately 2 to 2.5 hours
A 14-pound turkey will take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours

Remember, these are estimates for planning purposes. Always cook to temperature rather than by time. This is the most important tip when it comes to cooking a turkey. Always use a reliable meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches the proper internal temperature:

Pull the turkey from the grill when the breast meat reaches 157°F
The temperature will continue to rise during resting, reaching the safe temperature of 165°F

A Tale of Two Halves

Taking the spatchcock technique a step further, I prefer to separate the turkey into two halves. This approach offers several benefits:

  • Easier handling on the grill
  • More even cooking, as you can position each half optimally
  • Simpler carving process
  • Option to apply different seasonings to each half for a variety of flavors.

This method maintains all the advantages of spatchcocking while adding convenience and control to your grilling process. It’s particularly useful for larger turkeys or when cooking for a smaller group.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your spatchcock grilled turkey alongside classic sides like creamy mashed potatoes, garlic green beans, traditional sausage stuffing, and grilled potatoes or roasted Brussels or buttery carrots.

Make the most of your leftovers by transforming them into delicious dishes such as smoked turkey tetrazzini, gourmet paninis with melty cheese and cranberry sauce, make a turkey benedict or a hearty turkey soup using the carcass for a flavorful turkey stock. For quick lunches, try a turkey salad or grilled quesadillas. Get creative with turkey enchiladas or a comforting pot pie for cooler evenings.

grilled turkey sliced on serving platter
turkey on the grill close up

Spatchcock Grilled Turkey

Learn how to make a juicy, flavorful whole turkey with beautifully crispy skin using simple ingredients and your grill. This easy, set-it-and-forget-it method frees up oven space and delivers mouthwatering results perfect for any occasion, from Thanksgiving to summer barbecues.
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Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 2 hours
Rest Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8


  • Grill (gas or charcoal)
  • Remote Probe Thermometer
  • Cooling rack and sheet pan
  • Kitchen shears or sharp knife for spatchcocking


  • 1 whole turkey (12-14 lbs, spatchcocked)
  • 1/2 cup Diamond kosher salt or 5 tablespoons Morton kosher salt for a 14-pound turkey (for dry brine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (for dry brine)
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons neutral oil such as canola or vegetable
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons dry rub of your choice



  • Spatchcock the turkey by removing the backbone and flattening it.
  • Mix kosher salt and sugar for the dry brine. Evenly sprinkle the mixture all over the turkey, including under the skin.
  • Place the turkey on a cooling rack set on a sheet pan. Refrigerate uncovered for 24 to 36 hours.
  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to temper it for more even cooking.
  • Drizzle a little oil over the skin and season with black pepper (and optional dry rub if using).
  • Insert a remote probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.

Set Up and Preheat Grill

  • Preheat the grill to 300-350°F, set up for indirect heat cooking.
  • If using, add wood chunks for extra smoke flavor.

Grill the Turkey

  • Place the turkey skin-side up on the indirect heat side, with the breasts furthest from the heat source.
  • Close the lid and cook until the internal temperature of the breasts registers 157°F (about 1 hour 45 minutes).
  • Monitor the grill temperature and adjust as needed to maintain 300-350°F.

Rest and Serve

  • Remove the turkey from the grill and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving.


  • Cooking time may vary depending on the size of your turkey and grill temperature fluctuations.
  • For food safety, ensure the final internal temperature reaches 165°F after resting.
  • If using a charcoal grill, you may need to add more coals during cooking to maintain temperature depending on cook time.
  • Wood chunk suggestions for extra smoke flavor: hickory, oak, apple, or cherry.

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