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turkey on platter for thanksgiving
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5 from 6 votes

Thanksgiving Turkey

The best Thanksgiving Turkey involves an apple cider brine, the most delicious dry rub, lots of butter, and roasting in the BBQ to save on oven space!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Resting time20 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings



Turkey prep for brine:

  • 1 12-pound turkey fresh
  • 2 valencia oranges quartered
  • 6 cups ice

To roast the turkey:

  • As many fresh herbs as will fit into cavity sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

Dry Rub:


To prepare brine:

  • Combine apple cider, salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and bay leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes until salt dissolves. Cool completely in refrigerator.
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey, refrigerate until ready to use, and reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a large stockpot. Place turkey inside bag. Add cold cider mixture and ice. Squeeze as much air out of bag as possible. twist top and secure with twist tie or tuck end so that it stays put. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

To roast the turkey:

  • The turkey will be cooking directly on the rack of your grill. Place a roasting pan that will be under the bird (this will also catch the drippings). A disposable aluminum roasting pan or even an aluminum baking sheet with a lip edge will work. Alternatively, you can cook the turkey on a roasting pan with a rack if your grill area is large enough. Preheat grill to 450º F (or as high as it will go if it doesn't go to 450).
  • Remove turkey from bag, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bag. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry. Cut a small slit in the breast skin so that you can tuck wing tips under to keep in place. Tie legs together with kitchen string if the turkey didn't already come with a fastener.
  • Place herbs in the cavity of the bird. Slice butter and slide in between skin and meat on turkey breast.
  • Mix together dry rub ingredients and rub over entire turkey, patting down to get it to stick.
  • Arrange turkey, breast side down, directly on grill. Roast at 450º for 30 minutes.
  • Reduce BBQ temperature to 350º F.
  • Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up). Roast at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes* (see note) or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of breast registers 150º. Remove turkey from grill, tent with foil with thermometer still inserted, and let stand until internal temperature reads 160-165º , about 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for gravy.


  • Cooking a larger turkey? The original recipe was for a 12 pound turkey. I recently cooked a 16 pound turkey following this recipe and the total cook time was 2.5 hours including the 30 minutes at the higher temp at the beginning of the recipe. The larger bird required a 30 minute rest period.
  • I highly recommend cooking this turkey on your BBQ grill or Traeger like I did to save your oven space for side dishes and pies, but the exact same recipe can be used in an oven.


Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 1788mg | Potassium: 295mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2813IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 4mg