Smoked Turkey Recipe in 3 Hours on the Grill: No Brining, No Basting, No Bullsh*t

by Jim Casey
photo by Outsider

Thanksgiving turkey can be more complicated than your sixth-grade science project. But not our recipe. There’s no brining, no basting, no oven bags, and no bullsh*t.

Just follow our Rule of 3: spatchcock, spice, and smoke—and you’ll have delicious Thanksgiving turkey in about three hours. Don’t be intimidated by the word “spatchcock.” It simply means splitting the whole bird along the backbone and cooking it (preferably on the grill). Why do we love it? It’s easy to do, the meat cooks evenly and quickly, and the skin gets crispy. That’s a winning combination on Thanksgiving—or any day, for that matter.

Let’s simplify the cooking of the turkey this year. All you need are a few ingredients and a grill. Of course, if you’re looking for more great grilling recipes from Outsider, check out our Juicy Lucy Hamburgers, Blackened Salmon, Beer-Can Chicken, Pickle Juice Hot Wings, Flat Iron Steak, Frito Pie Hotdogs, and more.


  • 1 Whole Turkey (12-14 lbs.)
  • 4 oz. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. coarse salt
  • 8 tbsp. garlic-butter dry rub (we’re using Keith’s Farm)
Four simple ingredients: Turkey, garlic-butter dry rub, olive oil, and salt.

Spatchcock Directions

Position the turkey breast-side down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides of it.

Press the turkey flat with your hands until the breastbone cracks. Congrats. You’re a spatchcockin’ specialist.

Prepping the Turkey

Cover both sides of the turkey with 4 oz. of olive oil (image 1). Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of coarse salt on both sides of the turkey (2). Cover both sides of the bird with 8 oz. garlic-butter dry rub (3). Feel free to use your favorite dry rub, including Cajun, lemon-pepper, or BBQ. Let the spiced turkey air dry for 15 minutes (4) while you fire up the grill.

Smoking the Turkey

  • Lump charcoal
  • Wood chips (apple or pecan)
  • Fireproof gloves
  • Foil pan
  • Water

Today, we’re using a Big Green Egg, but you can use any smoker or indirect grill for this recipe. Fill the Green Egg with lump charcoal and ignite. Wait for the Egg to get up to 500-600 degrees (usually takes about 15 minutes). Place a metal/foil pan directly on the charcoal (you’ll need fireproof gloves for this), filled with two cups of water and a couple handfuls of wood chips (I like apple for this recipe). Add a couple more handfuls of wood chips directly on the charcoal. Now you’re smoking!


Place the convEGGtor (indirect convection shield) on the Egg. Add the grate. Place the turkey breast-side up on the grate. Close the lid. Set the temperature to 350 degrees. A fluctuation between 320-350 degrees is normal.

Smoke the turkey (no need to flip), until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (breasts) and 180 degrees (thighs). Our 13-pound turkey took 3 hours.


Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy your smoked turkey masterpiece.