Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While Camping

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

Psst we’re compensated…see our disclosures.

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!

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Charcoal Smoker for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingCharcoal SmokerCharcoal Smoker for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingPropane Gas Grill for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingPropane Gas GrillPropane Gas Grill for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingPropane Fryer for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingPropane FryerPropane Fryer for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While Camping

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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!

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


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

Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingSmokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker

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.

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Thanksgiving Turkey Cooking Instructions Using 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

 


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!

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Smokey Mountain Cooker for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingSmokey Mountain CookerDoor Give Easy Access for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingDoor Give Easy AccessCharcoal Chamber for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingCharcoal Chamber

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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).
  • 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 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.

Eat 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; get tips for cooking the big meal on our Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite With Camping For Foodies post; and get trip planning help on our Easy Tips for a Thanksgiving Camping Trip post!


Other Methods To Cook Turkey While Camping

Propane Grill Turkey Camping Cooking Method

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 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!

Cook Turkey While Camping On A Propane Grill - Camping For Foodies .com


You will want to have this equipment for this process.

Weber Propane Gas Grill for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingWeber Propane Gas GrillFoil Aluminum Roasting Pan for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingFoil Aluminum Roasting PanBaster, Injector And Cleaning Brush for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingBaster, Injector And Cleaning Brush

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Turkey Deep Fryer Camping Cooking Method

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.

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.

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. 

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


Here is some equipment you’ll want to have for this cooking method.

Turkey Fryer for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingTurkey FryerMarinade Meat Injector for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingMarinade Meat InjectorOil/Heat Resistant Waterproof Gloves for this Grilled Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe With Instructions How To Cook Turkey While CampingOil/Heat Resistant Waterproof Gloves

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Print This Grilled Smokey Joe Thanksgiving Camping Turkey Recipe!

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


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

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Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite With The Camping For Foodies Family - Camping For Foodies .comGet tips for cooking the big meal on our Thanksgiving Dinner At The Campsite With Camping For Foodies post.

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

Get trip planning help on our Easy Tips for a Thanksgiving Camping Trip post!

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Dutch Oven Camp Cooking Tips - via Camping For Foodies .comCheck out our Dutch Oven Camp Cooking Tips post for more helpful info to cook like a pro with your camp Dutch oven!

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No time to look for recipes, create a menu and write a grocery list? No Problem! Get our 3-Day Dutch Oven Camp Menu Plan here!

3-Day Dutch Oven Camp Menu Plan By Camping For Foodies .com


Our Cool Camping Products Make Great Gifts!

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If you need camping recipes and menu ideas, you can find them here at the Camping For Foodies Camping Recipes list.

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