Then I had a brilliant…but risky idea. Back in 2011, I made an awesome rocket ship pizza tray for a party, the nose of which was covered in a small bit of aluminum flashing. We still had that 10-foot, $10 piece of flashing in storage. Using it between the bottom and top of the grill added plenty of height to fit the jumbo turkey. We took the risk and cooked the turkey with the flashing in place. It was seriously the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. And now I get to share with you how we did it!
How to Smoke a Turkey on a Charcoal Grill
- Prepared turkey (we used this dry brine technique, and trussed the turkey to keep the legs together)
- Chimney Starter
- Canola Oil
- Wood for smoking (recommend applewood)
- Remote meat/grilling thermometer (here’s one similar to ours)
- Grilling gloves for protection (we use long gloves for the best protection)
- Aluminum flashing (about 10 ft long)
Preparing the Grill:
The Husband is particular about a few of his favorite grilling methods. This includes:
- No lighter fluid. Get a chimney starter. The flavor is so much better.
- Despite so many claims that lump charcoal is best, we prefer charcoal briquettes. Lump charcoal is unpredictable and often burns too fast and hot for smoking methods. (We’ve tested this for over a year now, and the results are pretty consistent)
- Don’t use wood chips. Big hardwood chunks are great for long-smoking applications. Big chunks don’t require soaking and smolder longer. Our experience also indicates that big hardwood chunks impart a stronger smoke flavor to the meat.
- Use a remote thermometer to keep track of the temperature of your meat. This way you don’t have to let heat and smoke escape just to check temperature.
- Place an aluminum pan in the center of the grill to catch fat drippings. This helps to prevent flare-ups and also makes clean up a little bit easier. Note: You won’t get a lot of drippings from the turkey with this method. Plan another base for your Thanksgiving gravy.
- Fold a paper towel into a square and use it to lightly oil the grill grates to help avoid sticking.
Grilling the Turkey:
- Prepare your charcoal in the chimney starter. Place charcoal inside the grill.
- Put the drip pan in the center of the grill, on top of the coals. Put the turkey in the center of the grill, above the drip pan and insert the remote thermometer probe into the turkey breast.
- Arrange the aluminum flashing around the perimeter of the grill, between the grate and the sides of the grill. Place the lid of the grill on top of the flashing. Don’t worry, the flashing is strong enough to hold it up.
- Replace the coals about once an hour, or as needed. Always wear protective gloves to remove the flashing during this process.
We aimed to grill the turkey at or below 300 F, but the temperature ran a little high at one point. Our 18 pound turkey cooked in about 3.5 hours.
Once your turkey is finished, enjoy its beautiful color and delicious taste!
Note: We tried this technique again with a smaller turkey recently,and found that the flashing had warped from using it last year; resulting in extremely high grilling temperatures. Thankfully a 15 pound turkey fit under the grill lid with no problems. The flashing method worked perfectly for us last year, but be sure you’re prepared with a backup plan.