Rotisserie Turkey

This recipe was inspired by Dan at work. (Hi, Dan!) I make Rotisserie Chicken all the time, but I’ve only done rotisserie turkey once, years ago. Dan asked me how to do it for his Thanksgiving dinner, and I gave him the outlines of my basic poultry rotisserie technique. Then, my local Acme grocery* had a $0.69/lb sale on turkey, and I knew where my next blog post was coming from!
*I always think I’m Wile E. Coyotoe when I shop there. Go here for the link to the Original Acme mail order catalog.
**That link seems to be dead. Try this substitute instead.

As usual, I had to deal with the weather for this blog. Today’s forecast is for a high of 12*F, with wind gusts between 30 and 50 miles per hour. I almost didn’t do the turkey on the rotisserie because of this!*
*But…I’m either too stubborn, or not smart enough to know when to quit.

Recipe: Rotisserie Turkey

Cooking time: 2.5 hours


  • Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit 650 with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here it is.)
  • Pot large enough to hold turkey and brine. 12 quarts at least, 16 would be better
  • Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x11″, or whatever fits your grill)



  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 1/2 cup table salt (or 1 cup kosher salt)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Instructions: (See the basic technique: Rotisserie Poultry for details on each of these steps.)
1. Brine – make the brine by dissolving the salt and sugar in the water. Submerge the turkey in the brine, and refrigerate for 12 hours (if you’re pressed for time, brine for at least 8 hours, but no more than 24 hours)

2. Drain turkey, pat dry, and (optional) run finger under skin of the breast, so it will crisp up more.

3. Truss the turkey. (See basic technique post for a link to Alton Brown demonstrating this if you need it.)

4. Skewer turkey on the spit – get it on there tight! I like to put one set of prongs under the breast of the turkey (see pic below – the prongs of the fork should run just along the backbone), then the other skewer through the thighs.

5. Prepare the grill: Set your grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium heat. You want an internal grill temperature of 350*F for turkey. For my Weber Summit, I set up the heat on the leg side of my turkey, to cook the legs faster than the breast. I turn the two burners on the right (burners 5 and 6) to medium, and turn the infrared burner to medium. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)

6. Cook the Turkey: Put the spit on the grill, and turn on the rotisserie motor. Cook with the lid closed. It should take 2 hours to 2.5 hours, depending on the size of the bird. A 14 lb bird should be done in about 2 hours 15 minutes. It’s better to go by temperature, though – you want the breast at the thickest part to read 160*F to 165*F; start checking about 15 minutes before you think the bird will be done.

7. Serve: Remove skewer from grill, remove turkey from skewer, let rest at least 15 minutes, carve and serve.

My original photo for this post. Yikes, did I need better lighting…

-Remember to check the basic technique: Rotisserie Poultry.

*Total cooking time was 2:30, but I should have stopped at 2:15 – it was at 155*F at 2:15, but at 170*F at 2:30 when I was done. And, the wingtips and leg ends were burnt. It still tasted great, though – the brining gives you a little cushion on the temperature.

*The Weather. Arrgh. My grill can handle 20MPH winds, but it looks like gusts of 30 to 50 is too much. My grill blew out somewhere in the first hour of cooking. Luckily, I was checking it every half hour – I restarted the grill (after leaving it open for a couple of minutes to let it air out.) After that, I checked it every 15 minutes. I had to relight my infrared burner 3 times during the cooking, but it did a great job in spite of that.

*And…the outdoor temperature STARTED at 12*F, it was 5*F when the cooking was done.

*As I keep saying – be very careful when handling the spit and skewers after cooking – it’s a branding iron at that point. Do NOT touch it without gloves or oven mitts

*Save the drippings for gravy – I scraped the drippings into a small pot, added one cup of homemade turkey stock, then I simmered it until it was reduced by a half. It made a great sauce to spoon over the turkey.

*Cooked on my Weber Summit 650 with infrared rotisserie burner

*Skip brining, and buy a kosher turkey (koshering has the same effect as a brine).

*Go with a fancier brine, like this one that I use for thanksgiving: Weber apple cider brine (, free registration required).
[Update 11/26/2009]: Here’s the same recipe, without needing a registration: Weber apple cider brine by Jaime Purviance []

[Update 11/2011 – keeps re-arranging their site, which breaks my link to the PDF. If that link doesn’t work, go to and search for “Barbecued Turkey”]

*Stuff the cavity of the turkey with an Orange with some cloves (Sage, Orange and Clove Rotisserie Turkey)

*Herb rub the turkey (Herbed Roast Turkey) [, registration required].

Related Posts:
Rotisserie Turkey with Cajun Dry Brine
Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices
Rotisserie Turkey Breast with Spice Rub

Inspired by:
…all the above recipes, especially the Weber ones, which came from:
from:Weber’s Big Book of Grilling

*Cook’s Illustrated overnight brine: – paid registration required.

My favorite monster:

Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.

Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
plus 50 (mostly) new recipes to get you cooking.

It’s a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!

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  1. Thanks for the great information on cooking a turkey on a rotisserie. I’ve never done turkey on a rotisserie yet, so this was a big help. I’d like to try it this Thanksgiving. I was looking for various ways to grill a turkey and found your post, so I shared it on my website in a post that I just wrote on how to grill a turkey.

  2. Anonymous /

    Hi — good stuff here — new visitor

    It seems that your setup on you Summit varies. In a 2009 post on rotisserie turkey, you advised to set the two outer burners on medium and the infrared on medium. Here you say the two right hand burners on high and the infrared on medium.

    Why the changes?

  3. @Anonymous:

    You’re right, I have changed my approach. Why the changes? I learned a few tricks since 2009.

    If your grill supports it, I would go with the “smoker burner and #1 on high, infrared on medium” approach, because it concentrates the heat on the drumsticks and thighs.

    Properly cooked turkey breast is cooked to 150 to 155*F; properly cooked turkey thighs and drumsticks are cooked to 170*F to 180*F. Focusing the heat on the
    back end of the turkey helps cook the legs more than the breast.

    If you have a grill with burners that run left to right, instead of front to back, like on a Weber Genesis, you can’t concentrate the heat on the back end of the turkey – it’s a choice of “left, right or both”. The turkey will still be great if you use #1 and #6 on medium, infrared on medium and a rotisserie; it is just a little better if you can cook the legs more.

    Here is my “new approach” as of this year:
    Rotisserie Turkey with Cajun Dry Brine

  4. Mike- preparing for tomorrow’s feast and will be using your recipe. I’m curious what’s your take on using the pan juices to baste the turkey periodically??

  5. Not necessary with a rotisserie turkey – the juices roll around on the outside of the bird, so the process is self-basting.

    Now, if you wanted to throw some potatoes or sweet potatoes in the drip pan, to make use of the drippings, that would be a great idea…

  6. Use your ideas ALL the time! Thanks so much and happy Thanksgiving! :)

  7. You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving!

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