Easy Grilling Recipe for a Juicy, Smoky Holiday Turkey

Cowboy offers a go-to guide on smoking a Thanksgiving classic

Stockton, Calif. (November 21, 2013) – The turkey is the classic centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday, and a cook’s major opportunity for bragging rights. If you want major accolades this season, Cowboy Charcoal recommends serving a smoky, golden brown, succulent turkey cooked on the backyard grill. This is a fun way to create a unique holiday meal that will leave guests talking.

Thanksgiving cooks will not be alone at the grill this season. Cool weather grilling is becoming increasingly more popular, especially during the holidays. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association reports a 10 percent increase in Thanksgiving season charcoal grilling between 2009 and 2012.

While many people think that cooking a turkey on their backyard grill would require an expensive or elaborate setup, the team at Cowboy believes that even inexperienced chefs can achieve amazing results by following the right recipe.

Cowboy’s Perfect Bourbon-Maple Smoked Turkey

This recipe requires preparing turkey and letting it sit before grilling it. It is a good idea to plan for 11 to 13 minutes of cooking time per pound. (For example: A 20 lb turkey would require approximately 4 hours of cooking time.) To determine right sized turkey, estimate about one pound per person.


  • 1 thawed or fresh turkey
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (at least 2 cups)
  • Pepper
  • Natural hardwood lump charcoal
  • Hickory wood chips
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • ½ cup real maple syrup


Clean and Brine the Bird

  1. Remove neck, giblets and excess fat from turkey. (Make gravy from giblets and neck, if desired.)
  2. Completely rinse turkey inside and out.
  3. Place turkey in a large container or brining bag. Be sure the container will fit in your refrigerator.
  4. To create brine, fill the container/bag with 2 gallons of water (or enough water to cover turkey) 2 cups of table salt, 1 cup bourbon and ½ cup real maple syrup
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

After Brining, Flavor the Bird

  1. Add onion (sliced in half), garlic cloves (add more or less depending on desired taste), rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to the inside of the turkey.
  2. Season the inside with salt and pepper, according to personal preference.
  3. Tie legs together with cooking string and twist wing tips under the back or cover with foil to prevent burning.
  4. Brush outside of turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (to desired taste).

After Seasoning, Prepare the Grill

  1. Soak a full package of Cowboy’s Hickory Wood Chips in a large bowl for 30 minutes.
  2. Below the grate on one side of your grill, place a foil pan, large enough to catch the drippings from the turkey while cooking.
  3. To prevent excess smoke, fill the foil pan about ½ way with water.
  4. On the other side of your grill, add about 2 lbs of Cowboy 100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light it.
  5. Drain the water from the wood chips.
  6. Once the lump charcoal is ash gray, add about 1 cup of wood chips to the fire
  7. Carefully place grate back on the grill.
  8. With the lid closed, let the grill and wood chips preheat for about 10 minutes.

Grill the Bird

  1. Remove the turkey from the container, rinse and thoroughly pat dry.
  2. Arrange turkey on the grate, above the foil pan to catch drippings.
  3. Place lid on grill and cook turkey for approximately 11 to 13 minutes per pound, until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
  4. Add additional wood chips and charcoal every 30 minutes as needed throughout cooking process.
  5. When ready, transfer turkey to serving platter, cover with foil and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

About Cowboy Charcoal

Cowboy Charcoal Company is the best known brand of natural hardwood lump charcoal. Cowboy’s premium products guarantee an authentic wood flavor and tender, juicy results with every grilling experience. Now a subsidiary of Duraflame, Inc., Cowboy Charcoal is introducing new grilling products to help fuel the passion for barbecue and grilling enthusiasts around the country. www.cowboycharcoal.com