The time has come! Leaves are falling, the weather is cooling, and stores are decking their halls for the holidays. That can only mean one thing – Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

On this special day, we give thanks for all the beautiful things in our lives – family, friends, health, food, and more. What better way to show appreciation for all the good stuff than serving a delicious Thanksgiving feast?

And what could be more delicious than a Grilled Whole Turkey with Apple Spice Brine? The brine makes this dish even more flavorful and succulent while freeing up your oven for other holiday goodies. So don't wait – get your grill fired up and try this unique take on a classic Thanksgiving favorite!

For whole grilled turkey, the essential ingredients are patience, brine, and butter. It will take about 20 minutes per pound to cook, and using butter will help prevent burning. For added flavor and moisture, frequently baste with a mixture of wine, chicken stock, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, and pepper while cooking. One necessary piece of equipment is a quality meat thermometer to ensure proper doneness without overcooking.

This delicious and easy-to-follow recipe will surely be a hit with your family and friends. The apple spice brine adds a unique flavor to the turkey that is perfect for the fall season. And cooking the turkey on the grill frees up space in your oven for all those delicious pies and side dishes! So why not give this recipe a try this Thanksgiving? Your taste buds will thank you!

Grilled Whole Turkey with Apple Spice Brine Ingredients

  • 1 (15 to 20 pound) turkey, fresh or thawed, with giblets and neck removed.
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature or softened, divided
  • Turkey Stuffing or your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe
  • 3 to 4 slices of uncooked bacon
  • Basting Juice (see recipe below) or use the juices that drain off

Apple Spice Turkey Brine

  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (or 1 cup table salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 Tablespoon candied ginger
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 sprigs each of rosemary, sage, and thyme

After the brine is cooked

  • 6 cups of ice cubes
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 large apple (quartered)
  • 1 yellow onion (quartered)

Basting Juice

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Neck and gizzard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary
  • 3 cups chicken stock or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sweet Marsala wine or port wine*
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine*
  • Juice from two lemons

Grilled Whole Turkey with Apple Spice Brine Directions

Apple Spice Turkey Brine

  1. Combine the water, apple juice, salt, spices, and herbs in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the brine from the heat and stir in the remaining cold apple juice and the ice cubes. Once the brine is thoroughly chilled, pour over your turkey. Nestle the sliced apple and onion in the brine around your turkey. Brine in a container that can keep the turkey fully submerged in the brine.
  3. Keep your turkey and brine below 40 degrees F during the entire brining process. Brine your turkey for approximately 1 hour per pound of turkey.
  4. Once your turkey has been in the brine for long enough, remove it from the brine and rinse gently on the inside and exterior of the bird. Pat completely dry and drizzle with a bit of cooking oil or melted butter for crispier skin. If you like, you can stuff the turkey cavity with the apple and onion slices from the brine.


  1. Clean the turkey well, removing any bits of pin feathers and cleaning the cavity of any remaining pieces of innards. Pat dry with paper towels. Secure legs with twine or a clip (optional).
  2. Preheat the barbecue grill. Instead of a roasting pan, it is easier to use a homemade pan from extra heavy-duty foil (using three layers of aluminum foil and making it just big enough to hold the bird - the sides need to be about 2 1/2 inches high).
  3. Rub the inside cavity of the turkey with 1/4 cup of the softened butter.
  4. Stuff the inside cavity with your favorite stuffing/dressing recipe. Also, place a little stuffing in the neck cavity, tuck the neck skin under and skewer shut. With any remaining turkey stuffing, stuff a little between the skin and the breast meat.
  5. With the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, rub some over the turkey's skin. Salt and pepper the turkey and place the slices of uncooked bacon on top of the prepared turkey.
  6. Place the turkey crosswise on the gas or charcoal grill to evenly distribute the pan over the two burners. Set the flame, so a temperature of 300 to 325 degrees F. is maintained (usually the lowest setting). Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil for the majority of the cooking time. The cooking time is approximately 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees F.
  7. Remove the aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking. Every once in a while, baste the turkey with the juices (or with the basting juice recipe below). If you have "hot spots" in the jets of the grill, twice during the cooking, turn the turkey around (and the pan, of course) so that one side is not more cooked than another.
  8. Toward the end of the cooking time, open the grill and insert the meat thermometer into the fleshy part of the thigh and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. (remember that the turkey will continue to cook after it is removed from the heat of the fire). NOTE: The USDA has come up with a one-temperature-suits-all for poultry safety: 165° F. For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a meat thermometer.
  9. In the absence of a meat thermometer, pierce the turkey with a fork in several places; juices should be clear with no trace of pink. NOTE: The old-fashioned way of wiggling the leg to see if it's loose will indicate that the turkey is ready, but unfortunately, by the time the leg is truly loose, the turkey is sadly overcooked. The only reliable test for doneness is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone.
  10. Allow the cooked turkey to sit for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Basting Juice

  1. In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, melt butter; sauté onion until just translucent. Add the neck and gizzard; continue cooking for approximately 4 minutes. Add the rosemary and chicken stock or water; simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain well.
  2. Use the gizzard and neck in the stuffing or the gravy. For the basting juice, mix the strained stock mixture, marsala or port wine, vermouth, and the juice of the lemons.

Taken from &

November 14, 2022 — Jason Klein