BBQ Christmas Turkey

I used to hate turkey. The traditional family recipe involved cooking it in the oven for half the day and it was pot luck as to whether we would be getting a dried out fowl or campylobacter.

So it was with delight that I discovered that I could combine my love of fire and being outside on Christmas day (when the in-laws are safely inside) by barbecuing that turkey for a fabulous result!

Vital tools that you will need for the job:

  • A Weber kettle barbecue
  • Good quality briquettes (do not use charcoal!)
  • A big bucket for brining
  • A turkey that hasn’t been pumped full of artificial nonsense
  • A meat thermometer (not essential but handy)
  • A bottle or two of festive cheer (essential and handy)

The secret to a great turkey is the brining. It imparts a whole lot of flavour and seems to produce a moister turkey.


  1. Defrost your turkey. If it’s a big boy, it can take a day or two.
  2. Prepare your brine by combining enough water to fill half your bucket with:
    • 2 cups of brown sugar
    • ¾ cup of rock salt (or enough to make it taste sea salty)
    • a couple spoons of peppercorns
    • 5 bay leaves
    • peel from 2-3 oranges
    • some Rosemary sprigs, if you have them lying around
    • 3 cups of apple cider
  3. Bring it all to the boil and let it cool.
  4. Stuff your turkey in for a couple of days.

It’s important to keep your turkey in the fridge while it’s brining — so make sure your turkey fits in the bucket and your bucket fits in the fridge!

Fridge space is always contentious around Christmas time so make sure there will be room for the Pavlova as well. If not, there will be hell to pay. This advice comes from experience.


Fire up your Weber, allowing enough time for 2 hours of cooking and 20 minutes of resting. Total cooking time varies but I‘ve had some turkeys done in 1 hour 20 minutes. It never ceases to amaze me as to how fast they cook in the Weber!

Use the indirect method of cooking and make sure you have the lid on the whole time. There is no need to turn it and don’t take the lid off more than once or twice to check on it.

I also like to put a foil roasting pan under the bird to catch all the turkey goodness which is great for the gravy.

If you’re adventurous you can also try adding wood chips to the fire (available from Mitre 10, etc), which adds another smoky element.

Remember to let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving it. Just put some tin foil over it and let it sit on the bench. This is probably the most important part of getting a moist result.


—David Carter

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