Easy methods to cook dinner Thanksgiving turkey exterior with out an oven

How to cook Thanksgiving turkey outside without an oven

Most individuals cook dinner their Thanksgiving turkey indoors, the everyday approach: within the oven. And there is nothing mistaken with that. However have you ever thought of throwing your turkey on the grill? What about deep frying? You may unencumber your oven for tackling sides and desserts. Making ready your centerpiece a unique approach additionally provides you a handy excuse to take a second away from the festivities to go “examine on the chicken.” 

There is no objectively proper technique to cook dinner a turkey exterior. Some folks swear that roasting your vacation chicken within the Large Inexperienced Egg is the perfect. Others say firing up their Traeger pellet grill is the one technique to go. And the really courageous amongst us will inform you deep fried turkey is the last word Thanksgiving delicacy. And do not forget concerning the traditional Weber Kettle, present in numerous backyards nationwide.   

For many of you, the suitable approach can be to make use of no matter grill you occur to personal. That stated, we thought it will be worthwhile to strive 4 common strategies for cooking turkey exterior and put the outcomes up for a jury vote among the many CNET Dwelling workforce. 

Ultimately, the outcomes had been fairly conclusive. This is the way it all went down.

Learn extraThe place you possibly can (nonetheless) order a mail-order turkey on-line for Thanksgiving

Let’s speak turkey

All 4 of the birds we cooked had been primary, frozen supermarket-brand turkeys, packaged in brine and sourced from the native Kroger. All of them got here in between 16.2 and 16.5 kilos.

I butterflied three of our 4 take a look at turkeys.


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They took 4 days to thaw within the fridge, aided by just a few hours wading in a chilly water tub. If yours are already thawed, even higher. After that, I butterflied (aka spatchcocked) three of them, and left the chicken destined for the fryer intact. 

I gave our turkeys a beneficiant quantity of herb spice rub, and a separate gentle sprinkle of salt.


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Spatchcocking places the darkish meat nearer to the warmth, and the chicken additional away. Since chicken cooks quicker than darkish, the association helps the breast and thigh to complete in unison. 

Subsequent, I hit all of the turkeys with a light-weight sprinkle of kosher salt and an herb rub. Kudos to amazingribs.com for this highly effective turkey recipe inspiration. I then positioned them within the fridge in a single day, the place they sat till cooking time arrived the following day.

With the Large Inexperienced Egg as much as temperature, and its ConvEGGtor warmth diffuser accent in place, it is time to cook dinner. 


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Turkey methodology 1: Large Inexperienced Egg

Kamado-style grills just like the Large Inexperienced Egg are sometimes made out of enameled ceramic. Due to that, they’re very good at retaining warmth. Additionally they maintain a number of moisture locked contained in the cooking chamber, which will help maintain your turkey juicy. 

To start out, I stuffed my take a look at Egg with Large Inexperienced Egg-brand oak and hickory lump charcoal. I additionally nestled a piece of applewood contained in the coal pile as effectively. With the fireplace lit, I positioned the ConvEGGtor accent (toes up) inside the fireplace bowl. This ceramic warmth defend sits between meals and the coals, and it’s a necessity for oblique roasting or smoking. 

We saved a watch on temperatures of two of the three grills with thermocouples linked to a knowledge logger.


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I additionally took benefit of the SmartFire barbecue pit controller. The gizmo enabled me to simply carry the Inexperienced Egg’s fireplace as much as 325 levels Fahrenheit. Better of all, it saved the Egg buzzing together with minimal supervision.

A thermocouple probe borrowed from our testing lab offered warmth readings all through the cook dinner. My goal temperature was 160 levels, and three hours later the chicken hit that mark. 

We rigorously lowered certainly one of our turkeys right into a vat of scorching oil to fry. 


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Turkey methodology 2: Deep fryer 

Deep frying a turkey is an intense, probably harmful cooking methodology. You’ve got most likely heard the assorted warnings about accounting for oil displacement, amongst different issues. I will suffice it to say right here that you simply should not undertake to deep fry a turkey with out studying up totally or working with somebody you belief who has expertise. To do the job, we used a specifically made turkey fryer equipment. It included a big metallic pot, a sturdy stand and a propane burner.

When frying turkeys, particular heat-resistant gloves and different protecting gear is a should.


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After performing a displacement examine with the turkey and water, we then poured three gallons of peanut oil into the pot, and lit the burner. After 15 to twenty minutes, the oil reached frying temperature, 350 levels. Carrying protecting gear (heat-resistant gloves, eyeglasses and apron), my colleague Steve slowly lowered the turkey into the oil, utilizing the metallic stand and hook that got here with the frying equipment. 

Decreasing the chicken into the oil is a essential, and harmful second. Transferring too rapidly right here, or not thawing your chicken utterly may trigger scorching oil to splatter, or it may set off an eruption of oil exterior of the pot. We prevented that. With the turkey efficiently submerged, we let it fry. After 50 minutes, the inner temperature on the breast hit 160 levels, our stopping level. 

Turkey methodology 3: Traeger pellet smoker 

I’ve lengthy had respect for Traeger wooden pellet grills, particularly the Timberline 850 I reviewed some time again. With out fail, this smoker has remodeled every part I cooked inside it into one thing exceptional. I am pleased to say that turkey was no exception.

With the Traeger prepared, I put the turkey on the decrease grate. I then fired up the wooden pellet grill’s supersmoke mode.


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After cleansing out the firebox, I ignited the grill and introduced its temperature as much as 200 levels. I then positioned the turkey on the bottom grate, and inserted the grill’s meat probe into the chicken’s left breast. After that I closed the lid, and activated the Traeger’s “tremendous smoke” mode for half-hour. It is designed to feed wooden pellets into the firebox, the place they smolder at low temps for optimum smoke creation. I used Traeger’s personal signature mix of pellets, comprised of a mixture of hickory, maple and cherry hardwoods. 

In whole, the smoker wanted three hours to carry the turkey as much as the right temperature of 160 levels. It took a bit doing because the proper breast cooked quicker than the left one. Two thirds of the way in which into the cook dinner, I rotated the turkey 180 levels. That ramped up inside temperatures on the chicken’s left aspect to match its proper.  

I created an oblique warmth zone on the Weber Basic Kettle, then positioned the turkey on the cooler aspect.


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Turkey methodology 4: Weber Basic

I first stuffed a charcoal chimney starter two-thirds full with briquettes. I did not use something fancy, simply good previous Kingsford Blue. As soon as I lit them and allow them to smolder, I dumped the coals on the Webber Basic’s charcoal grate. Then I roughly organized them in a pile that hugged the left aspect of the kettle. I grabbed a piece of applewood and put it on high of the coal mattress too. 

A hefty chunk of applewood went instantly on the coals.


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Subsequent I positioned an aluminum drip pan to the suitable of the coals, and stuffed that with water scorching off the boil. Lastly I lowered the cooking grate into the kettle, then rigorously put the turkey on the grill’s proper aspect (over the drip pan).  

For the document, each the lid vent and the cooker’s backside vent had been midway open. I additionally monitored each the grill temperature and inside turkey temp (breast) with thermocouples. Quickly after closing the Weber, issues acquired furry. From a beforehand regular temperature of 325 levels, warmth ranges plummeted to 150 levels in 20 quick minutes.

I had made a traditional beginner mistake. I might let the coals sit too lengthy within the chimney starter earlier than including them to the pit. I additionally opened the lid quickly after including the chicken for a peek. Now I used to be paying the value. I salvaged the scenario by beginning a recent chimney of coals, which I added to the Weber with haste.

As soon as I introduced the fireplace again to life, the warmth spiked upwards so I needed to tweak the air vents quite a few instances. Flame flare ups compelled me to shift the chicken’s place usually too.

Tasting and verdict

With all of the turkeys cooked and off the grill, we carried out a blind style take a look at with 10 members of the CNET Dwelling workforce. We tallied votes on numbered notice playing cards, and solely I knew which turkey got here from what outside cooker. The outcomes had been clear and unmistakable.  

Turkey on the Large Inexperienced Egg got here out good, however wasn’t the perfect of the birds we tasted.


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4th place: Large Inexperienced Egg

This beloved kamado model produced a properly roasted turkey, with a great quantity of colour and taste. That stated, our panel judged the Large Inexperienced Egg’s turkey to be their least favourite. In reality, six out of 10 tasters rated it as their least favourite. I personally wasn’t blown away by the feel of the pores and skin. It wasn’t as crisp as I want. And whereas the meat wasn’t dry, neither was it as juicy as the opposite birds I cooked. What I discovered most disappointing was that I did not style a lot of the applewood smoke taste in any respect.

This is our turkey because it got here out of the fryer. It was golden brown, a bit oily.


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third place: Deep Fryer

After we pulled our fried chicken out of the vat, it had turned a hue of golden brown. The pores and skin positively had some crispness, however it lacked general crunch. And once we reduce the turkey open, the meat was tender however oily. It wasn’t unhealthy, it simply did not reside as much as our deep fried turkey fantasies. Six out of 10 voters put the fryer chicken as second to final in our turkey take a look at group.     

After three hours, the turkey within the Traeger was completed, and looking out very good.


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2nd place: Traeger Timerline 850

After I pulled the chicken out of the Traeger Timberline, its pores and skin had a stunning brown colour. It had some crispness too, although it may have had a contact extra texture and crunch. Carving into this turkey although, revealed its true allure. Its meat was the juiciest of all our pattern birds. Better of all, the Traeger actually introduced out the pure turkey taste, balancing it properly in opposition to the candy smoke within the background. Our panel agreed. Three out of 10 tasters voted this turkey their favourite, and 4 out of 10 rated the Traeger chicken as their second selection.  

Regardless of setbacks and battling the grill for correct cooking temperature, that turkey that it made was fabulous. 


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1st place: Weber Basic Kettle

I admit I did not count on the Weber Basic kettle to cook dinner up one thing that nice, particularly because it took some work to stabilize the cooking temperature. I actually did not suppose it will roast a chicken that was outrageously good, however that is precisely what occurred. The turkey got here out with a thick crunchy crust. It was bark-like, the type of factor I count on to see on a brisket, or a butt of properly smoked pork. The meat was moist and tender too, and had a great deal of smoke taste. There was even a visual smoke ring.

The Weber-cooked turkey had crunchy, crispy, bark-like pores and skin. Its meat was tender too and had a scrumptious, smokey taste. 


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I wasn’t the one one who felt this fashion. The chicken that got here out of the Weber was additionally the favourite amongst our panel tasters. 5 out of 10 panelists judged it as their favourite. Three out of 10 tasters additionally voted it in at second place. One other indicator was that that is the turkey folks selected after they went again for seconds, and thirds.

Respect that previous Weber

I now have newfound admiration for the previous $129 Weber Basic kettle grill. Sure, it is inefficient and burns much more gas than a kamado. Sure, it leaks warmth and fills your yard with a ton of smoke. And sure, it is a utterly handbook cooker with no Wi-Fi connection, refined smarts or snazzy wooden pellet drive system. 

What it will probably do, I will argue, is considerably extra essential. It might rework a lowly grocery store turkey right into a factor of magnificence, and festive deliciousness. It is also why I will be firing up the previous Weber when it is time to make turkey this Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s best to contemplate doing that, too.

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