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Nov 10, 2012 07:28 PM

Houston, we have a problem: indirect grilling a turkey if gas grill is small

So I've got everything ready to do a test turkey dinner tomorrow, but reading all the various grilling recipes, we've run into a potential problem: our gas grill has only 2 burners and is not that big. Our turkey is just under 13 pounds and could sit directly on the grill on one side while we have the other side's burners on. Problem with that is that the 9x13 disposable drip pan we have that would fit under the grate is just slightly smaller than the turkey itself. Would that work? Is it a problem if I lose some of the drippings? (I was hoping to get drippings to make gravy.)

Our other option--which we were kinda hoping to do--was to put the turkey in a regular roasting pan with rack. But the problem with this is that the pan is big and wouldn't fit on just half of the grill. So how to grill indirectly when part of the pan will have to be over the flames?

Do we give up and put it in the oven?

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  1. When doing chickens I have used drip pans slightly smaller than the bird with problems. I typically put some water in the pan to reduce chances of flare ups.

    Have you considered a smaller turkey?

    2 Replies
    1. re: firecooked

      I assume you meant "no problems"?

      I can't consider a smaller turkey--it's all prepped and ready to go!

    2. So can anyone tell me if this would work: if we put a broiler pan under the grate and over the ceramic briquettes, and then used our large roasting pan with v-insert? Should that be indirect enough?

      Hope someone can reply: planning to do this within 3 hours from now.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Thanks4Food

        I have been doing turkeys on a gas grill over indirect heat for 15 + years. Do not put the bird in a roasting pan. Put a disposable aluminum pan underneath the grate and put the bird on the grate. Add hot water to the pan so that the drippings will not smoke. Depending on your barbeque you may have to rotate the bird from time to time to get even cooking. Hope this helps and good luck.

        1. re: LJS2


          I agree 100%.

          Bird on grate.

          Pan underneath for drippings as flare ups are a non-issue if going indirect.. Can also use hot water if you feel it necessary in the pan (and keep an eye on it in the event it evaporates over timea as it will) if you fear flare ups and rotate/turn bird to ensure even browning.

          If doing indirectly on a 2 burner gass grille that pan should be on top of the cold side, not the hot.

          Cook to 160 F internal with carryover to 165 F ish.

          I have a 2 burner gas grill, 3 burner gas grill, weber kettle and 2 smokers.

          Not my first rodeo.

          Good luck.

          1. re: jjjrfoodie

            Looks like I found the right forum.

            I've been doing a brick chicken recipe for a while now, always with excellent results. This year, I was thinking of trying to the same approach with TG turkey though I can't find a "brick turkey" recipe and perhaps that's meant to tell me something.

            Anyways, what I'm working with is a 3-burner Weber Spirit (the burners go front to back, not horizontally along the grill). We haven't bought our turkey yet but it will be on the smaller side since we're only feeding about 4 adults and 2 kids. (Frankly, I just wanted to grill a chicken but my daughter insisted on turkey. "It's tradition.")


            1) I was going to spatchcock this, brick chicken style. I take it the "brick" part won't work?

            2) I normally don't use a drip pan with a spatchcock chicken; should I use one with a turkey to prevent flares?

            3) How would I set this up for indirect grilling? Normally, with a smaller chicken, I turn on the front and back burners and leave the middle off but the turkey will be too big for that to work.

            Your advice most welcome! Thanks.

            1. re: odub

              I do chickens this way but never use a brick, so no brick shouldn't be a problem. I do my chickens over direct heat (my burners are side to side), the question is can you go a longer time without completely burning the skin? I do always put orange slices under the skin on the chicken, as this helps keep the breast moist. Worst case, you could finish the bird in the oven...

          2. re: LJS2

            Hey LJS2 and jjjrfoodie,

            Do you think it's okay that the drip pan is slightly smaller than the turkey?

            What we had thought we might do is put a cookie sheet under the drip pan--it fits perfectly back-to-front, but side-to-side it would cover 3/4ths of the briquettes, so most of the hot side of the grill would also be covered. We'd have the drip pan and the turkey on the cold side.

            One other question: when you preheat, do you preheat both sides of the grill or just the side that will stay hot?

            I can't wait till this isn't my first rodeo either! :-)

            1. re: Thanks4Food

              The only prblem with a smaller drip pan is that you risk the uncaught fat and juices reach the heating element or coals,lava rock below. if doing indirect, that will be the cold side and is usually not a problem depending upon the temp the bird is being grilled/roasted at.

              If you notice a lot of smoke, get out a squirt bottle with tap water and douse the flames and keep an eye on it. I seldom see it a problem until near the end of cooking.

              Also keep in mind that meat, including turkeys shrink when cooked so that bird will lose mass duing the cooking process. Likely enuff to make your catch pan work.

              I see it all the time when I smoke whole chickens like last weekend. What looks huge in the beginning does lose size.

              YOu can also do a double or triple layerd tin foil layer with hand turned up lip under the pan just to cover the area below the turkey and under the drip pan and not covering any of the heating fire.
              BTDT too. Kinda like NASA's triple redundancy theory. LOL.

              Keep us posted.

              1. re: Thanks4Food

                what i have done in the past is use a larger aluminum drip pan then "scrunch" it so that it fits. Also try trussing the legs together. This will make the bird a bit more compact. If its just the wing tips and drum stick bottoms that are hanging over that should not be a problem. You should have a spritzer filled with water nearby do deal with any flare ups. I get get both burners going to get the que up to temperature then turn off the side that the turkey is on off once the bird goes on the grill.

                1. re: Thanks4Food

                  I do my birds with the poultry rack and driping pan, becuase I do it on charcoal and need to add coals....

                  in this case I would follow the others advice and use smaller drip pans (8x8?) and put it over the in-active burner. This should'nt be a problem as the flavor on the from a grilled bird (technically hot smoked) comes from the wood.

                  I would advise you use hickory chips with that small of a bird - it should cook in a couple of hours - you;ll want it to be as smoky as possiable.

                  You might think about barrowing a weber kettle or something bigger for TG - most people aren't using their grill on TG and they're not that hard to transport..

            2. Forgot to add the ole' "breast side up or breast side down" cooking philosphy.

              For me, when I do smoking at 225 to 250F, I do breast side up and leave it.

              For 275 F and up (usually 300 to 325F), I do breast side down to start and then turn breast side 1/2 way thru.

              Others can chime in.

              Up the heat and cooking takes a little more fussing. Not much, but I always monitor my heat temp inside a grill or smoker or even oven. And I use remote probe thermometers. I;m just nerdy that way. LOL.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                I want a remote probe thermometer!

                We flipped the turkey after an hour (breast down to breast up) and lost a hunk of skin from the top of the breast--even though we had oiled the grill and bird. Think this will be a problem? My husband put some foil over the naked part.

              2. Hey all--it worked! We just ate a wonderfully moist, tasty bird! It wasn't exactly a no-hassle way to go, but now that we've done it, we should be able to get it streamlined next time. And I'll plan ahead better making the gravy ahead of time, etc. But we're all quite satisfied and ready for a nap: the sign of a successful turkey dinner.

                Thanks for all your help!