Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe

Thanksgiving Is Turkey Time! If you decide to take a Thanksgiving camping trip, you can enjoy a turkey dinner! So how do you cook turkey while camping? Our grilled Thanksgiving camping turkey recipe makes it simple … and, because grilling and camping just go together, it seems natural to cook your turkey using a grill. 

This recipe is fast and easy … a spiced butter rub, a few aromatics in the cavity and that’s it … your bird is cooking! 

Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While Camping – Camping For Foodies .com

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Camp Cooking Methods For Thanksgiving Turkey

There are several ways to cook a turkey while you are camping.

We have used a…

  • Charcoal Smoker,
  • Propane Gas Grill and
  • Propane Fryer … all on different trips of course! LOL

We’ll discuss all three methods in this post so you can choose the method that will work best for your Thanksgiving camping dinner!

 Weber Propane Gas GrillWeber Propane Gas Grill Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal SmokerWeber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker Portable Propane Outdoor Deep FryerPortable Propane Outdoor Deep Fryer

 


How To Cook Turkey While Camping

My favorite way to cook a turkey while camping is to use a smoker without the wood chips. For this particular Thanksgiving, we used our little Smokey Joe that we (actually, “we” is my husband LOL) converted into a smoker.

The reason I like this method the best is because I like the flavor of the turkey with the butter blend and aromatics in the cavity. I also like using equipment that is part of our “normal” camping gear.

If you need help with setting up your Smokey Joe to cook a turkey, check out our Simple DIY Modifications For A Weber Smokey Joe Smoker Conversion post for step-by-step instructions!

Simple DIY Modifications For A Weber Smokey Joe Smoker Conversion - Camping For Foodies .com

Smokey Mountain Cooker

Not interested in doing a DIY modification to your Smokey Joe? No problem!

The Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker has a built-in lid thermometer, a porcelain-enameled water pan, an aluminum fuel door, and a porcelain-enameled charcoal chamber.

You can actually get these in different sizes too.

The smallest size is the same size as the 14-inch Smokey Joe (most popular for camping) but it also comes in 18-inch and 22-inch models.

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal SmokerWeber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal SmokerWeber Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker

 


Cooking Turkey On A Modified Smokey Joe Grill

Here are the Thanksgiving turkey cooking instructions using a modified Smokey Joe Grill. You can print the entire recipe below.

Camp Cooking Tip: We decided to use a turkey with the legs and wings removed because we were using our little modified Smokey Joe to cook the turkey while camping on this particular trip.

The legs and wings cook faster than the rest of the turkey … in a regular oven you can easily slide out the oven rack and cover the legs and wings with foil midway through the cooking process so they don’t burn before the rest of the turkey is finished cooking.

In this situation, it was not going to be that easy to maneuver the turkey during the cooking process so we just opted to cook the cavity part of the turkey rather than the entire bird.

Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While Camping – Camping For Foodies .com

Benefits Of The Smokey Mountain Cooker Over A DIY Version

Using a Smokey Mountain Cooker has advantages over cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in our DIY Smokey Joe modification. The biggest benefit is ACCESS!

The body of our DIY modification is a piece of stainless steel that is fastened with nuts and bolts.

The Smokey Mountain Cooker actually has a rust-resistant aluminum door that allows you to easily add more coals as well as providing access to the food and drip grate.

Another cool thing is the cooker is not only available in a 14-inch standard Smokey Joe size … it also comes in 18-inch and 22-inch models which means you can cook larger turkeys or other pieces of meat!

 Smokey Mountain CookerSmokey Mountain Cooker Door Gives Easy AccessDoor Gives Easy Access Charcoal ChamberCharcoal Chamber

 


Cooking A Turkey In A Charcoal Smoker

  • Pre-heat your grill or oven to 350 degrees and cook according to package instructions for the size of your turkey (approximately 15 minutes per pound).
  • Get your charcoal going, enough to do a ring of coals around the grill’s kettle drum for indirect heating. Don’t place coals in the center of the charcoal grate.
  • Fill the water pan with water to keep the turkey moist. See our Simple DIY Modifications For A Weber Smokey Joe Smoker Conversion post for more information and photos.
  • Place the turkey onto the cooking grate (located above the water pan grate). Situate the turkey upright so the aromatics stay in the cavity and in the center of the grate to avoid direct heat.
  • Now for the toughest part: maintaining a constant 350 F degree temperature inside the grill. You’ll have to open or close the grill vents to raise and lower the temperature. This is where science comes in to play. Just remember this … It’s all about the oxygen … starve the fire by closing the vents and the fire burns out. Feed the fire by opening the vents to add more oxygen.
  • You’ll want to cook the bird according to the weight so check the directions on the package for specifics (approximately 15 minutes per pound). Our experience has found that the smaller the grill, the faster the bird cooks (even when maintaining the appropriate internal grill temperature.) 
  • Ambient conditions impact cooking times so use a quick-read thermometer to check the progress. Like all good campers, be flexible! Your turkey may be done sooner or later than you anticipate so just be ready either way. Recommended doneness is 160 degrees for internal breast temperature.

Other Methods To Cook Turkey While Camping

If you don’t want to use a charcoal smoker, you have two other great options. A propane grill or propane deep fryer.


Cooking A Turkey On A Propane Grill

Using a propane grill is the easiest method to cook turkey while camping in the outdoors.

The reason: maintaining a constant temperature with a gas grill is much more straightforward than dealing with charcoal briquettes.

Just use the propane grill the same way you cook turkey in your home oven.

  • Preheat the grill to 350 F degrees
  • Place turkey in foil pan
  • Baste turkey with juices throughout the cooking time (approximately 15 minutes per pound)
Cook Turkey While Camping On A Propane Grill - Camping For Foodies .com

Preheat the propane grill, place the turkey in a foil pan and make sure you baste the turkey throughout the cooking process for a juicy beautifully browned bird! You will want to have this equipment for this process.

 Weber Propane Gas GrillWeber Propane Gas Grill Heavy Duty Aluminum Roasting PansHeavy Duty Aluminum Roasting Pans Turkey Baster, Syringe & Cleaning BrushTurkey Baster, Syringe & Cleaning Brush

 


Cooking A Turkey Using A Deep Fryer

Another method to cook turkey while camping is to fry it. This is one of the fastest methods to cook your turkey which is great if you have morning activities (like hiking or playing a few games of flag football) but you still want a big turkey meal.

Cook Turkey While Camping In A Turkey Fryer - Camping For Foodies .com

I would rather use a turkey fryer at the campsite than at home because they can be a little messy and the odor from the cooking oil can linger for a while so it is a perfect fit for cooking a turkey while camping!

Remember, oil and water don’t mix so if you are camping in rain or snow, place your turkey fryer under some sort of overhead cover while still allowing enough room for ventilation and avoiding fire hazards.

The best way to get outstanding flavor in your fried turkey is by using an injector to get your marinade inside the meat instead of just seasoning the surface.

  • Inject the turkey with the marinade
  • Heat oil in turkey fryer to 350 F degrees
  • Pat the turkey with paper towels so it is completely dry
  • Place turkey, neck-side first, in drain basket
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the oil making sure it is fully submerged
  • Maintain the oil temperature of 350 F degrees and cook the turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound

Make sure you use waterproof gloves when lowering or raising the bird to/from the turkey fryer to avoid getting burned by hot steam and splattering oil. Here is some equipment you’ll want to have for this cooking method.

 Turkey FryerTurkey Fryer Meat InjectorMeat Injector Oil/Heat Resistant Waterproof GlovesOil/Heat Resistant Waterproof Gloves

 


Print This Grilled Smokey Joe Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe!

Yield: 8-10 Servings

Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe Using Modified Smokey Joe Grill

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the Campsite - Camping For Foodies .com

Camping For Foodies Dinner Camping Recipes: Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe Using Modified Smokey Joe Grill.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

Butter Blend

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

The Turkey

  • 8 pound turkey (remove the legs and wings and store them for another use). NOTE: If you need a bigger turkey (to feed more people), just make sure it will fit inside the cooking vessel you are using.

Aromatics

  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Instructions

  1. Mix the butter blend in a small bowl.
  2. Butter the bird and flavor the cavity. Clean the turkey then gently lift the skin around the cavity and spread the seasoned butter under the skin but be careful not to tear the skin … it needs to hold in all that butter while the bird is cooking. Take any remaining butter and spread it inside the cavity. Then add the aromatics inside the cavity.
  3. Cook it. Pre-heat your grill or oven to 350 degrees and cook according to package instructions for the size of your turkey (approximately 15 minutes per pound).
  4. Get your charcoal going, enough to do a ring of coals around the grill’s kettle drum for indirect heating. Don’t place coals in the center of the charcoal grate.
  5. Fill the water pan with water to keep the turkey moist. See our Simple DIY Modifications For A Weber Smokey Joe Smoker Conversion post for more information and photos. https://www.campingforfoodies.com/simple-diy-modifications-for-a-weber-smokey-joe-smoker-conversion/
  6. Place the turkey onto the cooking grate (located above the water pan grate). Situate the turkey upright so the aromatics stay in the cavity and in the center of the grate to avoid direct heat.
  7. Now for the toughest part: maintaining a constant 350 degree temperature inside the grill. You’ll have to open or close the grill vents to raise and lower the temperature. This is where science comes in to play. Just remember this … It’s all about the oxygen … starve the fire by closing the vents and the fire burns out. Feed the fire by opening the vents to add more oxygen.
  8. You’ll want to cook the bird according to the weight so check the directions on the package for specifics (approximately 15 minutes per pound). Our experience has found that the smaller the grill, the faster the bird cooks (even when maintaining the appropriate internal grill temperature.)
  9. Ambient conditions impact cooking times so use a quick-read thermometer to check the progress. Like all good campers, be flexible! Your turkey may be done sooner or later than you anticipate so just be ready either way. Recommended doneness is 160 degrees for internal breast temperature.
  10. Serve it. Carve your turkey and serve it up with all of your sides. This is one of the recipes we make when we are camping on Thanksgiving. See our entire menu on our Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite post

Notes

Camp Cooking Tip: We decided to use a turkey with the legs and wings removed because we were using our little modified Smokey Joe to cook the turkey while camping on this particular trip. The legs and wings cook faster than the rest of the turkey … in a regular oven you can easily slide out the oven rack and cover the legs and wings with foil midway through the cooking process so they don’t burn before the rest of the turkey is finished cooking. In this situation, it was not going to be that easy to maneuver the turkey during the cooking process so we just opted to cook the cavity part of the turkey rather than the entire bird.

Using a Smokey Mountain Cooker has advantages over cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in our DIY Smokey Joe modification. The biggest benefit is ACCESS! The body of our DIY modification is a piece of stainless steel that is fastened with nuts and bolts. The Smokey Mountain Cooker actually has a rust-resistant aluminum door that allows you to easily add more coals as well as providing access to the food and drip grate. Another cool thing is the cooker is not only available in a 14-inch standard Smokey Joe size … it also comes in 18-inch and 22-inch models which means you can cook larger turkeys or other pieces of meat!

Here are a few more useful links:

Dutch Oven Temperature Chart https://www.campingforfoodies.com/dutch-oven-temperature-chart/

Camping For Foodies Recipes List https://www.campingforfoodies.com/camping-recipes-list/

Our Products https://www.campingforfoodies.com/shop/

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 777Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 422mgSodium: 1068mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 108g

Entire Dinner With Turkey & Trimmings

This is one of the recipes we make when we are camping on Thanksgiving. Get my entire menu with all of the recipes to make a Traditional Camping Thanksgiving Dinner: Easy Recipes For Turkey Dinner With All The Trimmings.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the Campsite - Camping For Foodies .com

Meal Timing Tips For Thanksgiving Camp Dinner

Want to have your entire dinner hit the table at the same time? Get my Thanksgiving Camping Dinner Meal Timing Tips.

Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite With The Camping For Foodies Family - Camping For Foodies .com

Thanksgiving Camping Trip Tips

This is no ordinary camping trip. Don’t miss my Trip Tips When Camping During Thanksgiving!

Easy Tips for a Thanksgiving Camping Trip - Camping For Foodies .com

Dutch Oven Cooking Tips

Check out my Dutch Oven Camp Cooking Tips for more helpful info to cook like a pro with your camp Dutch oven during Thanksgiving and beyond.

Dutch Oven Camp Cooking Tips - via Camping For Foodies .com

More Inspiration For Your Meals

If you’re looking for awesome ideas for yummy camping food, you’re in the right place!

Camping Food With Easy Meal Ideas And Original Recipes by CampingForFoodies

Here’s our entire camping recipes list.

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2 Comments

  1. How about you guys do this for real outdoor camping campsite charcoal maybe foil pans or a old style outdoor BBQ Grill that is next to a picnic bench.
    You know the kind you would just when you go to the beach or camping or to a picnic area site and they have those grills on a pole in the ground. The most you’re going to bring with you as some foil pans food and charcoal no propane no smoker no Home barbecue no other crap that you need from your house I’m talking real outside, in the middle of nowhere with basically nothing else.

    1. Hi Suzette! Thanks for the idea…we’ll do it! I promise to take lots of photos and I’ll be sure to include detailed tips on how we did it in a full blog post! Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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