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A turkey on the rotisserie over a charcoal grill

Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices - Recipe

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Total Time: 27 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


Rotisserie Turkey Dry Brined with Orange and Spices. My go-to Thanksgiving turkey, the one I make every year.


  • 12 to 14 lb Turkey
  • fist sized chunk of smoking wood (hickory, oak, pecan or a fruit wood; I love oak wine barrel staves)

Dry Brine Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (I used Diamond Crystal; reduce to 3 tbsp if using Mortons, because it is denser).
  • Zest of 1 orange (save the orange, cut in half and wrapped in plastic wrap to stuff the turkey)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (about a 1/2 inch piece)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Dry Brine the Turkey (For at Least a Day): 1 to 3 days before it is time to cook, dry brine the turkey. Mix the dry brine ingredients in a small bowl, then sprinkle and rub evenly over the turkey. Make sure to rub some inside the cavity of the turkey as well. Put the turkey on a rack over a roasting pan or baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate, removing the plastic wrap the night before cooking to allow the skin to dry. (If you are only dry brining for 24 hours, skip the plastic wrap.)
  2. Prep the Turkey: One hour before cooking, remove the turkey from the refrigerator. Stuff the turkey with the halves of the orange, then truss and skewer with the rotisserie spit. Put the zip lock bag full of ice on the breast, not touching the legs or drumsticks, to chill the breast meat until cooking. Put the wood chunk in a bowl of water to soak.
  3. Charcoal Grill Rotisserie Setup: Prepare the grill for rotisserie cooking on indirect medium heat. For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal and wait for it to be covered with ash. Then, instead of pouring it in my usual two piles on the side of the grill, I pour it in a U shape at one end of the grill (see picture below). I put the drip pan in the middle of the U of charcoal. Finally, put the wood chunk on top of the charcoal, and give it five minutes to start smoking.
  4. OR: Gas Grill Rotisserie Setup: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at indirect medium heat (325*F to 350*F). If you can, put all the heat on one side of the grill - instead of two outside burners on medium, set one outside burner on high, and leave the other one off - this concentrates the heat on the legs, which we want to cook more than the breast. For my Weber Summit, I remove the grates, preheat the grill on high for 15 minutes, then turn off all the burners except burner #6, right next to the smoker burner. I leave burner #6 on high, turn the smoker burner on high, and set the infrared rotisserie burner to medium. The drip pan goes in the middle, over the unlit burners.
  5. Cook the turkey: Put the spit on the grill, with the leg side of the bird inside the "U" of coals.  Cook the turkey with the lid closed; it will take 2 to 3 hours (usually about 2 1/2 hours for a 12 pound turkey). Every hour, add 24 fresh charcoal briquettes to the grill, nestling them into the burning charcoal. Start checking the temperature in the breast with an instant read thermometer at 2 hours. The turkey is done when the breast meat registers 155*F to 160*F in its thickest part. Remove the turkey from the grill, remove the spit from the turkey, and cut the trussing twine loose. Let the turkey rest for 15 to 30 minutes before carving.
  6. Carve the turkey and serve: If you have a favorite way of carving a turkey, go ahead and use it. My preferred method: Cut the legs free from the body of the bird, and cut the drumsticks away from the thighs. I leave the drumsticks whole (my favorite part!) and slice the meat from the thighs in 1/2" slices for dark meat lovers. Next, I cut the entire breast half from one side of the bird by working my knife down the keel bone from the top down to the wing, following the inside of the ribcage. Once the breast half is free of the bird, it is easy to slice into 1/2" thick slices on my carving board. I repeat with the other breast half. Finally, I cut each wing away from the carcass, and separate the drumette from the wing, and the wing from the wingtip. I arrange all these pieces on a platter and serve.
  • Prep Time: 1 day
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Rotisserie
  • Cuisine: American