Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this can only mean one thing – it’s time to learn how to cook a turkey! Many people go the traditional route and bake their turkey in the oven. This can often times cause the turkey to be bland or dry. Also, there isn’t much fun in baking the turkey! Cooking turkey outdoors is a fun and delicious way to enjoy Thanksgiving at home. This year may be the best opportunity to try a new approach that not only creates a delicious turkey but one that utilizes your outdoor living space.
Cooking Turkey In Your Outdoor Living Space
There are three main ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey outdoors: frying, grilling, and smoking. Why should you cook your turkey outdoors? Cooking your Thanksgiving turkey outdoors is a great activity that the family can enjoy. If you have an outdoor living space, you can enjoy the beautiful fall Georgia weather while a delicious meal is cooking. Also, cooking your turkey outdoors frees up the oven for side dishes and desserts! Here are some tips and tricks on how to cook your turkey outdoors from Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces.
Frying Your Turkey Outdoors
Frying your turkey is one of the most popular ways to cook a turkey in the South. It is one of the fastest and most delicious ways to cook turkey as well. While many people view this as the most dangerous, it can be done safely as long as you take the necessary precautions when frying a turkey. Here are a few things to keep in mind when frying your turkey outdoors:
Ensure Your Turkey is Properly Thawed
The biggest danger in frying a turkey is placing it in hot oil while it is still frozen. Placing a frozen turkey into the fryer will cause a fire. Make sure to plan ahead and place your turkey into the refrigerator to thaw. A good rule to follow is 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 5 lbs. of turkey. Also, do not stuff turkeys that you intend to fry. This will cause the turkey to cook unevenly as well as create off-flavors. Remove your turkey from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking.
Pick A Safe Location
Even if your turkey is completely thawed, you must pick a safe location to cook. Whenever you are working with hot oil and an open flame, there is a risk involved. Look for an area that has a level surface that is not flammable. Never fry your turkey on a flammable surface, like a wooden deck. Make sure to have plenty of distance away from structures. Also, ensure there is no debris that could catch fire or cause issues. We also recommend keeping a fire extinguisher handy, as you do not want to use water on a grease fire.
Make Sure the Oil Level Is Safe
Be careful when filling up your fryer with oil. Always add the oil to the fryer when it is cold and before the flame has been turned on. Be especially mindful of how much oil to add to the fryer and make sure you leave plenty of room for the turkey. If you add too much oil to the fryer, it can overflow when the turkey is added. This can potentially cause a grease fire.
Take It Nice and Slow
When you have added your oil to the fryer, slowly begin heating your oil to 350F. Make sure your oil is at the correct temperature to ensure the turkey cooks properly. Lower the turkey into the hot oil very slowly to prevent any overflows. The slower you do this, the safer the process will be.
The Frying Process
Monitor the temperature of your oil as your turkey fries. For cooking times, plan for 3-4 minutes per pound. Having a meat thermometer in the turkey to monitor the temperature is a great way to ensure proper doneness. The turkey will be done when it has an internal temperature of 165F. When the turkey is done, remove the cooking stand and place it on a layer of paper towels or newspaper to allow the excess oil to drain. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, carve and enjoy!
Grilling Thanksgiving Turkey
Grilling a turkey requires a pretty large grill. If you do plan to grill your turkey, make sure your grill has enough space and heat to do so. Also, make sure the burners are clean and working properly. Your grill needs to be able to produce even and steady heat for the best results. Make sure you have a full take of propane. We also recommend keeping a full extra tank of propane handy, just in case the turkey takes longer than expected to cook.
Prepping Turkey for Grilling
Make sure your turkey is completely thawed by placing it in the refrigerator a few days before cooking. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before grilling. Place the turkey into a roasting pan and add your preferred seasoning to the outside of the bird. Start preheating your grill to around 400F.
Cooking the Turkey on the Grill
Once the grill has reached the desired temperature, place your turkey onto the grill grate, and close the lid of the grill. We also recommend having a meat thermometer inserted into the turkey to monitor the internal temperature. When grilling at 400F, plan for the turkey to take about 12-13 minutes per pound. You do not want to stop cooking before the turkey has hit an internal temperature of at least 165F.
Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey
Smoking a turkey is similar to grilling. The main difference is that you are using a smoker instead of your grill. Smoking your turkey creates a deep colored and crispy skin, while also adding smoke flavor to the turkey. Depending on what kind of wood chips you use to smoke your turkey will change the flavor. Place the turkey directly onto the smoker’s grate. Make sure to also fill a pan with water and add that to the grate next to the turkey. This will help the smoking process, as well as prevent the turkey from drying out.
Smoke your turkey at around 300F for about 25-30 minutes per pound. The turkey is done smoking when the internal temperature is at least 165F. Make sure to keep extra charcoal, smoking wood, and water on hand. You will need to add more of each throughout the cooking process. Smoking a turkey is more hands-on than grilling, but it can be well worth the time and effort.
As you can see, you don’t have to be a world-class chef to enjoy a delicious turkey. By cooking your turkey outdoors, you can further utilize your outdoor living space. If you are planning to cook your turkey outside this year, make sure your outdoor landscape and living areas are ready! Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces is Atlanta’s outdoor living experts. We have been creating the best living spaces since 2001. From designing an outdoor seating area to building professional-grade outdoor kitchens, we do it all! If you are ready to have the best outdoor living space for Thanksgiving and the Holiday season, then contact Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces today!