Prep time: 14 hours
Cook time: 1 ½ hours
- 2 tablespoons hot smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried savory
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup (packed) plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 1 12–14-pound turkey, halved (backbone removed, breastbone split)
- Vegetable oil (for grill)
- A disposable foil pan
- 1 cup wood chips soaked in water for an hour (optional)
- Grill thermometer
- Mix paprika, savory, cumin, mustard powder, cayenne, and ¼ cup brown sugar in a small bowl.
- Transfer 3 Tbsp. spice mixture to a medium bowl; mix in salt and remaining 3 Tbsp. brown sugar. Set remaining mixture aside for the next day.
- Cover turkey with dry brine; packing on until it’s all used up.
- Chill prepared turkey on a rimmed baking sheet, uncovered for 8–12 hours.
- Thoroughly rinse turkey to remove brine then pat dry.
- Rub with reserved spice mixture and let sit for 2 hours to bring to room temperature.
- Prepare grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off) and lightly oil grates.
- If using wood chips: For charcoal grill, scatter over coals; for gas grill, place in a disposable foil pan and set over lit burner.
- Place the turkey, skin side up, over the indirect heat, breast halves facing each other, with legs closest to the direct heat. Place oven thermometer in the center of the indirect heat zone, and cover.
- Grill for 20 minutes, then rotate halves so the neck end is closest to the coals.
- Check the temperature inside the grill. The thermometer should read 325°F (open or close vents on your charcoal grill as needed).
- Continue to grill, checking for doneness after 20 minutes, then again, every 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 150°F. This should be about 1 hour in total.
- If desired, carefully move the turkey over the direct heat and turn the skin side down. Grill until the skin is lightly charred, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a platter and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Don’t grill your turkey on direct heat. You will burn your turkey if the flames are directly beneath it. Instead, use indirect heat when grilling a turkey. In this way, the bird is cooked by the rotating heat. If you're new to grilling, think of indirect heat as roasting or baking, and direct heat as broiling.
Watch it. Remember to keep an eye on the fire. Once the turkey is on the grill, your job isn't "done." You’ll need to keep checking the temperatures inside the grill and the turkey. Add charcoal or stoke the fire when it runs low.
Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. Leaving your turkey on the counter to thaw creates an environment for bacteria to breed, and a chance snack for the cat. Instead, wrap your turkey tightly in plastic wrap and place it breast side up on a rimmed tray in the fridge. Allow 24 hours of defrosting time for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird.