Garlic Butter Turkey

Recipe by Grillin With Dad

Recipe by Grillin With Dad

Hey! I'm Maciek. I make easy meals that anyone can replicate at home. I’m not a professionally trained chef, just your average guy that likes to fire up the grill.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about the turkey. Gobble gobble! The classic Thanksgiving turkey recipe, but made on the grill. Topped with an herby, garlicky butter, it’s sure to please everyone at the dinner table. The ingredients list is small, the steps are easy and the results are delicious! It’s a triple win.

Thanksgiving Turkey prep work

When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey, there are many options. You can get fresh, frozen, free range, organic, and probably a whole lot of other types. So, what should you get? For me personally, I try to stick with a fresh, never frozen turkey. It’s slightly pricier than a frozen one but it usually ends up tasting much better.

If you get a frozen turkey, be sure to put it in your refrigerator 4-5 days before your cook day. You want to give it plenty of time to defrost. The defrost time will of course vary based on the weight of the turkey so be sure to take that into account.

After the turkey is defrosted, rinse it under cold water, remove all the giblets from the inside cavity and pat it dry. The bird is now ready for prep

How to make the best garlic butter turkey for Thanksgiving

It’s time to get started on the turkey. For this recipe, I will be cooking it whole using a roasting rack and a drip pan. This method of cooking will give the best final presentation and will also catch all those tasty drippings in the pan. It’s another win win!

Butter under Turkey skin

Stuffed turkey Now that the turkey is clean and all the goblets have been removed it’s time to get the bird ready. Start by seasoning the inside cavity with 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning and 1 tbsp salt. Next, stuff the turkey with aromatics.  I like to keep it simple here. Fill it with lemon, carrots, onion, celery and parsley. And don’t overstuff it. Just fill it in nicely.

For the buttery coating, take 2 sticks of salted butter and melt them in the microwave. Add minced garlic, Italian seasoning and salt and the butter mixture is ready. Melting the butter will make the application process much easier.

Pouring garlic butter over turkey

Prepped Turkey for the grill

Before you pour the butter mixture on the turkey, take a few pieces of cold butter and stuff it under the skin over the breast. This will help keep the breast meat nice and tender throughout the cook. Then take the butter mixture and pour it all over the bird. Be sure to cover it thoroughly. You’ll notice that the butter will solidify as soon as it hits the turkey. This is what we want. The butter will stick and then melt as the turkey is cooking.

It’s time to grill the Turkey

There are a lot of methods out there when it comes to cooking a turkey. The goal is the same, ensure the breast comes out tender and moist. It’s easier said than done for 1 simple reason. The breast meat cooks faster than the dark meat and what happens is the breast will be overcooked by the time the rest of the turkey is finished.

Thanksgiving turkey on the grill

Grilled thanksgiving turkey

By grilling your turkey, not only to you free up the oven for all the side dishes, the cook gives it a slight smokey flavor while still maintaining the traditional taste of Thanksgiving.

Preheat the grill to 350-375 degrees and set it for indirect heat.  Place the turkey inside on a roasting rack breast side up.

Cook until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees, approximately 2-3 hours depending on size of the turkey. Insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set the alarm for 162 degrees. That’s when you can start checking the internal temperature in other parts of the turkey. I like using the Thermoworks Smoke temperature alarm.If the outside starts to get too dark, cover with aluminum foil.

Don’t peak while the turkey is cooking! Let the grill do the work. There’s no need to baste either. Trust the grill to do its magic.

When the alarm goes off, take your instant read meat thermometer and check the internal temperature in a few other spots in the breast and thigh. You’re looking for anything between 160-163. That’s a few degrees shy of 165 but that won’t be a problem. As the turkey rests off the grill, it will still come up in temperature a few degrees. Pulling it a few degrees shy of 165 will ensure it won’t overcook.

After the turkey is done, pull it from the grill and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest fore 15 minutes to help redistribute the juices throughout the bird!

Grilled Thanksgiving Turkey

Serve this amazingly tender and juicy garlic butter turkey at your next Thanksgiving dinner and I promise you everyone will be talking about the wonderful meal!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Printer friendly recipe is below.

Garlic Butter Turkey

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Prep Time 20 minutes


  • 1 Fresh Turkey (16-18lbs)
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Small white onion
  • 2 Celery sticks
  • 1 batch of parsley
  • 3 sticks Salted butter
  • 2 tbsp Minced garlic


  • Remove the turkey from the packaging, remove the giblets from the cavity and pat it dry.
  • Season the inside cavity with 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning and 1 tbsp salt.
  • Place the aromatics - lemon, carrots, onion, celery and parsley in the cavity.
  • Separate the skin from the breast meat, and slide the 1 stick of cut pats of butter over the breast meat.
  • Combine 2 sticks the melted butter with the remaining Italian seasoning, minced garlic and salt and mix to combine.
  • Pour the mixture over the turkey, making sure to coat everywhere.
  • Preheat the grill to 350-375 degrees, indirect heat, and place the turkey inside on a roasting rack.
  • Cook until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees, approximately 2-3 hours depending on size of the turkey.
  • If the outside starts to get too dark, cover with aluminum foil.
  • When the turkey is cooked, remove the grill, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

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