Rotisserie-Smoked Turkey on the Grill

An overnight brine helps create a more succulent and flavorful turkey. This brine is particularly flavorful, and the hints of orange, cloves and cinnamon really shine through. But the real key to elevating the flavor to the next level is smoking the turkey with your barbecue's rotisserie. This infuses the bird with an incredible smoky wood flavor. The rotisserie will cook the bird evenly as it bastes in its own juices. For the best results, we suggest you forget about that infrared rotisserie burner and instead use wood pellets or chunks to generate a gentle, smoky heat from below.

You can watch our good friends Rick Bayless and Steven Raichlen use similar “smoke-tisserie” setups using Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grills on their popular PBS Television Programs, Mexico – One Plate at a Time and Project Smoke. Although the videos feature roasted chickens and a whole pork loin, the methods they demonstrate are very similar to the method this turkey recipe uses.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 10 – 12
Image of Rotisserie-Smoked Turkey on the Grill

  • 12 pound organic, fresh turkey

For the Brine

  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Freshly-grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 6 quarts ice-cold water plus 2 quarts to boil

Preparing the Brine

Place the ancho chile and cloves in a blender or food processor and grind them together. Remove from blender and place in a large pot along with the kosher salt, brown sugar, orange zest, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 6 quarts of ice cold water to cool the brine.

Brining the Turkey

Discard the giblets and neck from the turkey. Place a brining bag in a large tub or pail. Place the turkey in the bag with the breast side down. Give the brining solution one last stir and pour it into the bag. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Refrigerate for 12 hours, or overnight.

Mounting the Turkey on the Rotisserie Spit

Remove the turkey from the brining solution and pat dry. Tie the legs of the turkey together with cotton butcher’s string. Use 2 additional lengths of string to secure the thighs and the wings to the body so that they do not move around as the spit turns. You can read our blog post for a more detailed guide on how to truss a rotisserie turkey. Mount the turkey on the spit with the mass centered on the shaft as much as possible. Use pliers to tighten the forks so that they do not loosen while cooking.

Preparing the Grill

Prepare the grill for rotisserie roasting with strong wood smoke at 300°F. When cooking on a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill, the setup should go as follows:

Remove the grill grates and flip the warming rack into the upward position, making room for the rotisserie spit.

Place 6 to 8 wood chunks or a pair of wood splits near the front of the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer. Preheat the grill for 10 minutes with the hood closed, and all main burners, plus the ignition burner on high.

Carefully relocate the now smoldering wood across the front of the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer. Turn off the main burners, leaving the ignition burner on high.

Once setup is complete, install the turkey on the rotisserie. Place an aluminum roasting pan underneath the turkey to catch drippings, add 1 cup of water to the pan, and close the hood to begin cooking.

Add new wood chunks at the front of the drawer about every 20 minutes, or as often as needed to maintain temperature. (A K750 Hybrid Grill will hold a temperature of about 250°F using just the ignition burner. The additional heat from the smoldering wood will boost the temperature to the desired 300°F.)

Roasting the Turkey

Roast the turkey on the rotisserie, ensuring strong wood smoke and indirect heat. Cooking time should take 12 to 15 minutes per pound, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total. Remove the turkey from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Let rest for 20 minutes before carving. We suggest using the drippings from the roasting pan to make Mirepoix Gravy.