This recipe was inspired by Dan at work. (Hi, Dan!) I make Rotisserie Chicken all the time, but I've only done rotisserie turkey once, years ago. Dan asked me how to do it for his Thanksgiving dinner, and I gave him the outlines of my basic poultry rotisserie technique. Then, my local Acme grocery* had a $0.69/lb sale on turkey, and I knew where my next blog post was coming from!
As usual, I had to deal with the weather for this blog. Today's forecast is for a high of 12*F, with wind gusts between 30 and 50 miles per hour. I almost didn't do the turkey on the rotisserie because of this!4
Recipe: Rotisserie Turkey
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I use a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9“x13”, or whatever fits your grill. I use an enameled steel roasting pan.)
- Butchers twine
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Total Time: 14 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 8-12 1x
Rotisserie Turkey with a basic wet brine.
- 1 (12-14 pound) turkey, preferably a fresh turkey
- 2 gallons cold water
- ½ cup table salt (or 1 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
- ¼ cup sugar (optional)
- Brine the turkey: Pour the salt, sugar, and water into a container large enough to hold a turkey. (I use my 12 quart pasta pot.) Submerge the turkey in the brine, and refrigerate for 12 hours. (if you're pressed for time, brine for at least 4 hours, but no more than 24 hours).
- Truss and spit the turkey:One hour before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Fold the wingtips underneath the bird, then truss the turkey. Skewer the turkey on the rotisserie spit, securing it with the spit forks. To keep the breast meat cool, set the bag of ice on the turkey’s breast, arranging it so the ice does not touch the thighs or drumsticks. Let the turkey rest at room temperature until it is time to cook.
- Prepare the grill: Set your grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium heat (350°F). For my Weber Summit, I set up the heat on the leg side of my turkey, to cook the legs faster than the breast. I remove the grill grates from the grill, to get enough clearance for the turkey, then I turn the two burners on the right (burners 5 and 6) to medium, and turn the infrared burner to medium. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners.
- Rotisserie the turkey: Put the spit on the grill, and turn on the rotisserie motor. Cook with the lid closed. (If you are using an infrared burner, turn it off afer the turkey is browning nicely, about 45 minutes.) It should take about 2 ½ hours for the turkey to cook It's better to go by temperature, though - you want the breast at the thickest part to read 160*F to 165*F; start checking the temperature at the 2 hour mark.
- Serve: Remove skewer from grill, remove turkey from skewer, and cut the trussing twine away from the turkey. Rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes, then carve and serve.
See my Rotisserie Poultry Basic Technique for details on each of these steps.See my How to Truss and Spit a Turkey for the Rotisserie video for details on trussing.
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Category: Rotisserie
- Cuisine: American
|My original photo for this post. Yikes, did I need better lighting...|
- Remember to check the basic technique: Rotisserie Poultry. Total cooking time was 2 hours 30 minutes, but I should have stopped at 2:15 - it was at 155*F at 2:15, but at 170*F at 2:30 when I took it off the grill. It still tasted great, though - the wet brine gives me a little cushion on the temperature.
- The Weather. Arrgh. My grill can handle 20MPH winds, but it looks like gusts of 30 to 50 is too much. My grill blew out somewhere in the first hour of cooking. Luckily, I was checking it every half hour - I restarted the grill (after leaving it open for a couple of minutes to let it air out.) After that, I checked it every 15 minutes. I had to relight my infrared burner 3 times during the cooking, but it did a great job in spite of that.
- And...the outdoor temperature STARTED at 12*F, it was 5*F when the cooking was done.
- As I keep saying - be very careful when handling the spit and skewers after cooking - it's a branding iron at that point. Do NOT touch it without gloves or oven mitts
- Save the drippings for gravy, especially if you used a gas grill. I scraped the drippings into a small pot, added one cup of homemade turkey stock, then I simmered it until it was reduced by a half. It made a great sauce to spoon over the turkey.
Rotisserie Turkey with Cajun Dry Brine
Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices
Rotisserie Turkey Breast with Spice Rub
Weber's Big Book of Grilling
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
It's a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!
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Ralph Velez says
I have a 21 pound turkey and would like to know if I can rotisseries it on my char griller (charcoal BBQ) . Do you think it is to big to rotisserie?
Mike V says
If it fits under the lid, you can rotisserie it. See my "Rotisserie Grilling - The Big Turkey" post for details: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2012/11/rotisserie-grilling-the-big-turkey.html/
Thank you. I'm doing this tomorrow.
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
You're welcome. Happy Thanksgiving!
Use your ideas ALL the time! Thanks so much and happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
Not necessary with a rotisserie turkey - the juices roll around on the outside of the bird, so the process is self-basting.
Now, if you wanted to throw some potatoes or sweet potatoes in the drip pan, to make use of the drippings, that would be a great idea... https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2010/12/rotisserie-pan-smashed-potatoes.html https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2010/09/rotisserie-pan-sweet-potatoes.html
Mike- preparing for tomorrow's feast and will be using your recipe. I'm curious what's your take on using the pan juices to baste the turkey periodically??
MikeV @ DadCooksDinner says
You're right, I have changed my approach. Why the changes? I learned a few tricks since 2009.
If your grill supports it, I would go with the "smoker burner and #1 on high, infrared on medium" approach, because it concentrates the heat on the drumsticks and thighs.
Properly cooked turkey breast is cooked to 150 to 155*F; properly cooked turkey thighs and drumsticks are cooked to 170*F to 180*F. Focusing the heat on the
back end of the turkey helps cook the legs more than the breast.
If you have a grill with burners that run left to right, instead of front to back, like on a Weber Genesis, you can't concentrate the heat on the back end of the turkey - it's a choice of "left, right or both". The turkey will still be great if you use #1 and #6 on medium, infrared on medium and a rotisserie; it is just a little better if you can cook the legs more.
Here is my "new approach" as of this year:
Rotisserie Turkey with Cajun Dry Brine
Hi -- good stuff here -- new visitor
It seems that your setup on you Summit varies. In a 2009 post on rotisserie turkey, you advised to set the two outer burners on medium and the infrared on medium. Here you say the two right hand burners on high and the infrared on medium.
Why the changes?
Scott @ Outdoor Cooking Magic says
Thanks for the great information on cooking a turkey on a rotisserie. I've never done turkey on a rotisserie yet, so this was a big help. I'd like to try it this Thanksgiving. I was looking for various ways to grill a turkey and found your post, so I shared it on my website in a post that I just wrote on how to grill a turkey.