For Deep Flavor, Inject Your Thanksgiving Turkey

By Bob McCarthy

It should come as no surprise, but we're big fans of grilling or smoking the holiday turkey. Even if we're not hosting dinner, we're smoking a turkey for our own personal post-feast feast (because, really, Thanksgiving dinner is too good to be limited to one day and if you're going to the effort of making your own personal Thanksgiving dinner, it should be done the way you like it.)

So the question isn't whether to grill your turkey (yes!), but how? We already shared our recipe for Maple Bourbon Brined Turkey. However, while brining produces the moistest turkey, there are drawbacks to soaking your bird in a salt solution for days. One of the biggest complaints about is that it produces a very salty flavor, which not everyone enjoys. Also, the brine moistens the whole bird, including the skin. That means no crispy skin, a no-no in most people's book. So, how do you get flavorful turkey with crispy skin? Inject it.

If you're not familiar with flavor injection, it's exactly what it sounds like: Using a needle, you inject liquid into the turkey to flavor the meat. Unlike brining, which doesn't allow spices and herbs to penetrate the meat, you're injecting the liquid deep into the turkey, so you can actually taste all of the flavors. What you can inject is limited by the size of the needle, but people often use ground herbs and spices, melted butter, stock, and fruit juice. While there are many home-made injection recipes, if you want a lot flavor with minimal effort Butcher BBQ and Kosmo's-Q make great pre-made injections.

For our Flavor Injected Thanksgiving Turkey, we cooked on the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill. Easy-to-use and versatile, it's one of our favorite new grills. Not only does the charcoal add an extra layer of flavor, but the Weber Summit Charcoal is one of the larger kamado grills on the market, so it can accommodate a hefty turkey. It also retains heat so well that it can maintain its temperature in cold weather, so you won't have to keep checking the grill during the game, especially if you monitor the cook on your phone with an iGrill. (For even more control, you can outfit it with a Flame Boss and automatically maintain the temperature via WiFi).

Holiday Recipe: Grilled Turkey with Flavor Injection

  1. Clean the turkey, removing the giblets and neck from the cavity.
  2. Lightly coat the turkey with olive oil then season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs or a poultry rub like Kosmo's Q Dirty Bird or Butcher BBQ Honey Rub.
  3. Using a BBQ injector, inject either Butcher BBQ Bird Booster Honey or Kosmo's Q Moisture Magice into each breast and leg in 3-4 locations. (To keep from losing too much of injection through the puncture, use the same hole multiple times. Just insert the needle into the turkey and squirt a quarter of the liquid then pull the syringe partially out and re-insert it at a slightly different angle to inject a nearby section of the meat.)
  4. Set up the Weber Summit Charcoal Grill for indirect cooking and preheat to 275°F.
  5. Add apple wood chunks or apple wood chips to the coals. Place turkey on grill grate breast side up.
  6. Cook until the breast is 165°F or the thickest part of thigh registers 175°F.
  7. Remove the turkey from the grill and let rest 20 minutes.
  8. Carve, serve, and enjoy!