Turkey on Rotisserie - Gas Grill

I've cooked turkeys on the grill and on the rotisserie.  Hands down, rotisserie is the way to go if you have one!  The meat comes out so incredibly moist and tasty, more so than on the grill. Here's the way I rotisseried two 17 lb. turkeys for Thanksgiving.  (Editor's Note: I like smoking turkey the best, but if you do not have a smoker, rotisserie or grilling is amazing!)

The keys to success: 1) Use a fresh turkey, not frozen, 2) balance the turkey on the spit and truss the legs and wings,  3)Brush with oil, 4) don't let the skin burn (cover the area with foil if it begins to burn) and 5) remove when done (165F between leg and thigh)

Use a fresh turkey, not frozen. Fresh turkeys have the best taste and texture. Every little bit of assistance makes a better turkey in the end!

Remove the giblets, rinse the turkey inside and outside and pat dry.Let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking. Brush the whole turkey well with oil. Sprinkle outside and in the cavity with your favorite seasonings – salt, garlic powder, onion powder or a mixed seasoning or dry rub. Do not stuff a turkey you’re cooking on the grill. It would add cooking time and the turkey could end up overdone or burned. If you're having stuffing, cook it in the empty oven where the turkey would have been!

Once the turkey is at room temperature, oiled, seasoned and trussed, we’re ready for the grill.

Preparing the Grill
First, be sure you have enough propane. The turkey will cook for a few hours and you don’t want to run out of fuel halfway through cooking.

You’ll be using indirect heat, which means that no direct heat should be allowed to reach the turkey. This is important! Otherwise you’ll have a turkey that is cooked outside and raw inside. Not good.

For indirect cooking, if your grill has a back burner, use it.  A back burner is strictly used for rotisserie cooking.  Otherwise, for indirect cooking, light a burner on one side or the front of the grill (depending on your setup), whichever will give indirect heat to the turkey.  Keep the top of the grill closed while cooking. The more times you open the top the longer the turkey will take to cook. Place a pan under the turkey to catch drippings.  You can use these for gravy.

The Spit
Run the spit through the breast and between the legs.  Secure the prongs on the breast and around the legs so that the turkey is balanced on the spit.  You don't want the turkey to be off balance.  It won't cook evenly and there would be added stress to the motor.  Adjust the prongs as needed so that the turkey rotates evenly on the spit.  If you are using the lower burners for heat, be sure the turkey is positioned so that it is only receiving indirect heat.   Be sure the turkey does not slip while rotation on the spit.

Trussing the Bird
 A turkey cooking on a rotisserie must be trussed.  Otherwise the legs and wings will flap around like the bird is alive!  Wait until the turkey is secured to the spit before trussing.  Tie the legs together and then tie a string around the body and the legs.  The legs should be secure and tight against the body.  Then tie a string around the wings and breast to hold the wings securely against the body.  Turn the spit on to check that the turkey is balanced and trussed properly.

You’ll want to maintain a cooking temperature around 325º. Use a good oven thermometer. Don’t trust the built-in thermometer on the grill since they are not always accurate. Place the thermometer near the turkey. Check frequently and adjust the heat as needed to keep the temperature around 325º. Figure about 12-15 minutes per pound. If you maintain a consistent 325° temperature the turkey will cook similar to one in an oven.

The turkey is done when a thermometer registers 165° in the coldest part of the turkey, usually between the leg and thigh. Digital probe thermometers are accurate and quick.

 If the skin browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Tuck the foil into the wings or legs so that it doesn’t pull off when flipping or turning.

So, there you have it. A really delicious, moist and tasty rotisserie turkey. Make some gravy and serve with stuffing and cranberry sauce, and you’ll be ready for a feast!


  1. Thanx for this informative post; what's your thinking about using a smoker box in the gas grill while spit roasting the bird? Thanx again.

  2. Absolutely. The more smoke you can get going, the better the taste.