Turkey BBQ Recipe

I got this great Turkey BBQ recipe from a reader who lives in Panama! He is obviously a grilling and smoking fanatic and knows his stuff. He even designed and built his own Parilla-styled concrete block and fire brick grill!

This grilled turkey utilizes a beer sauce and a glaze as well as smoking wood to make a richly flavored and succulent grilled turkey. Enjoy! And thanks, Ken!

Turkey BBQ Recipe

Contributed by Ken Barger
A grilled/smoked barbeque turkey is juicier and has a far better flavor than an oven-roasted turkey. The turkey will be more tender and juicy than you thought possible. The recommended size for barbecuing is 12-14 pounds. The turkey must fit under the lid of your grill with at least 1-inch space between the top of the turkey and the lid.

First, collect the following ingredients:

Basting Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup salad oil (such as olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Combine all the basting sauce ingredients and add herbs to suit yourself. Keep covered in jar or bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 stick butter

Combine all these barbeque turkey glaze ingredients in a saucepan over medium head and whisk until smooth. After cooling, keep in a covered jar in refrigerator.

Beer Sauce:

  • 2 cans beer (I use Old Milwaukee)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

Preparing the Turkey

Most recipes on barbecuing turkey first start out giving instructions for brining. Store bought turkeys such as Butterball are already brined.

After the turkey is thawed, remove the giblets and neck from the body. Rinse turkey in fresh water and pat dry with paper towels. Turn the wings back and return legs to tucked position if un-tucked. Do Not Stuff! Lightly oil the whole turkey inside and out (olive oil recommended), and season with salt and pepper or a seasoning mix. I use Badia Complete Seasoning. Using the string lifter provided, secure turkey and place on a flat pan. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Cooking this Turkey BBQ Recipe

Before turning on the grill to cook the barbecue turkey, lift the grates and place an aluminum drip pan at the center and directly on the flavorizar bars, ceramic tile, rock or charcoal grate (depending on your grill). Pour 2 cans of beer, chopped onions and minced garlic into the drip pan and stir. Replace the cooking grates over the top.

Grill the turkey using an indirect heat cooking method. On my Weber 3 burner barbecue, I turned on the center burner and left the other two off. With the drip pan placed at the center, it blocked the direct heat and was grilling using indirect heat. Turn the temperature down to medium or to a setting that maintains approximately 350 degrees F when the grill lid is closed.

Fill a smoking wood pan with hickory or apple chips and position at one end of the grill but near the heat. During cooking, when it stops smoking, refill with chips. Smoke for about 1 hour of the cooking time.

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the barbeque turkey breast. Position the turkey on the grill above the drip pan and close the lid.

Every 30 minutes, brush the turkey with the basting sauce. When the internal temperature is about 155 degrees, baste with glaze mixture every 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the grill and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

I barbecued a 14 lb turkey – similar to beer-in-the-butt chicken. On my 3 burner Weber gas barbecue, you cannot stand a turkey on end so I laid it on its back and used the drip pan for the beer sauce. The white meat was very juicy and everyone said it was the best they have ever eaten. Since them, I have barbecued 12 more turkeys with the same fantastic result.

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