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Simple Grilled Turkey with Crispy Skin


Grilling a turkey is ideal when you want powerful flavors and little prep. No brining, and all you need is salt & pepper and baking powder. Baking powder? Yes, that's right. That's the secret to getting the skin to turn out golden and crispy.

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Rate this recipe 4.4/5 (29 Votes)


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for gravy
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal) or 2 disposable aluminum pie plates (if using gas)


Servings 12
Preparation time 10mins
Cooking time 205mins


Step 1

Place turkey, breast side down, on work surface. Make two 2-inch incisions below each thigh and breast along back of turkey (4 incisions total). Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully separate skin from thighs and breast. Rub 4 teaspoons salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, 1 tablespoon salt under skin of each breast, and 1 teaspoon salt under skin of each leg.

Combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in small bowl.

Pat turkey dry with paper towels and evenly sprinkle baking powder mixture all over. Rub in mixture with hands, coating entire surface evenly. NOTE: I actually use twice as much, without any problems, as I ran out of the mixture!

Wrap turkey tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. NOTE: I didn't plan ahead and did this 4 hours before, and had no problems with the turkey success.

Remove turkey from refrigerator and discard plastic. Tuck wings underneath turkey. Using hands, rub oil evenly over entire surface.

FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway and place disposable pan filled with 3 cups water in center of grill.

Arrange 1 1/2 quarts unlit charcoal briquettes on either side of pan (3 quarts total) in even layer. Light large chimney starter two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (4 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour 2 quarts of lit coals on top of each pile of unlit coals.

Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

FOR A GAS GRILL: Place 2 disposable pie plates with 2 cups water in each directly on 1 burner over which turkey will be cooked. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner (burner opposite pie plates) to medium and turn off other burner(s). Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 325°F.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place turkey, breast side up, in center of charcoal grill or on cooler side of gas grill, making sure bird is over disposable pans and not over flame.

Cover (placing vents over turkey on charcoal grill) and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs/drumsticks register 175°F, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, rotating turkey after 1 1/4 hours if using gas grill.

NOTE: We checked our turkey at 2 1/2 hours, and it was borderline overcooked!!! I strongly suggest checking the bird at 2 hours.

Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Carve turkey and serve.

NOTE: Once we devoured the turkey, I placed the carcass into a pasta pot, with carrots, celery and onion, some peppercorns and bay leaves. I added 10 cups of water and simmered the stock for 2 hours. Wow, did that make a flavorful turkey broth! It's in the freezer for future meals.

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