Whole Turkey with Light Salt Brine

Adapted from Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste & Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking

“One Thanksgiving a while back, I told my family that I was going to barbeque our turkey, and they insisted I roast a back-up in the oven, in case they didn’t like it. But surprise, surprise, the smoke-blasted turkey was a tremendous hit, both that night and in a phenomenal turkey salad the next day.” Adam Perry Lang

Tip: This method works beautifully with a smaller bird and even one that weighs up to 25 pounds.




  • One 12-14 pound turkey


Place the pepper flakes in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them; let sit for 1 to 2 minutes to rehydrate the flakes. Combine all the brine ingredients, including the pepper flakes and the soaking water in a large bowl and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Place the turkey in a jumbo-sized resealable bag or a brining bag. Pour in the brine, squeeze out any excess air from the bag, and close. Place into another bag for insurance against leaking, and seal again. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24. If you don’t have room in your refrigerator the turkey can be stored in a small cooler with ice or frozen ice packs.

Set the EGG for indirect cooking at 275ºF/135ºC with hickory or pecan chips. Remove the turkey from the bags; rinse and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Lightly coat the turkey with canola oil and place in a roasting rack with a drip pan. Place the turkey in the EGG and cook until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 160ºF/71ºC and the breast registers 155ºF/68ºC.

Meanwhile, combine the seasoning blend ingredients. Brush the skin or the turkey with the melted butter and season all of the skin with the seasoning blend.

Continue cooking until the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F/74°C throughout the product, about 3¾ hours to 4½ hours total, depending on the size of the bird.

Drizzle the olive oil on an extra-large cutting board. Top with the chives, fleur de sel, and pepper. Remove the turkey from the cooker, place on the board, and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice the breast and dredge in the dressing. Pull all of the dark meat from the thighs into chunks and dredge in the dressing. Leave the drumsticks and wings whole. Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.

Brine Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 18 cups water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 thyme sprigs, bruised with the broad side of a knife
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed with a dowel or bottom of a heavy pot
  • Three .18 ounce packets Goya Sazón Azafran
  • About ½ cup canola or vegetable oil

Seasoning Blend Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 8 tbsp (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ bunch thyme and ½ bunch sage tied in an herb bundle

Finishing Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Fleur de sel
  • Finely ground black pepper

10 thoughts on “Whole Turkey with Light Salt Brine”

  1. I’ve done this recipe many times. It has great flavor. My biggest recommendation is to cook the bird longer than you would think based on sight alone.

  2. Is there a way to retain the drippings to make a gravy? I’m cooking our Thanksgiving turkey using this recipe tomorrow, but I would like to make gravy also.

    1. I put the bird in a roasting rack in a roasting pan, then put that whole thing in the BGE, that way all your dripping are ready to go when the bird is done. Just slid the roasting pan on the stove and make your gravy in it.

  3. I can’t makes sense of whether the oil should be in the brine or if it should be used to coat the bird. Clarity around this would be helpful.

  4. Too many steps. I pretty much stopped after the 1st step and the bird was perfect. The whole purpose of having a BGE is to make your life easier and to be able to enjoy family and friends. I avoid recipes which require multiple steps once the meat is put on the BGE …. been doing this for 25 years. thanks anyway.

    1. One caution about cooking times – I smoked a 17.5 pound bird, exactly per instructions at 275 degrees with a calibrated dome thermometer. This was in an extra-large Egg, I’m not sure if that made a difference, but following this process exactly, the bird was done in 4 hours and 15 minutes, start to finish. I was expecting it to take longer than that given that this recipe was for a 12-14 pound bird. We were done earlier than expected so I foiled the bird, put it in a covered roasting pan, and it had to sit in a warm oven (about 175 degrees) for a couple hours. That being said, it was the best turkey I’ve ever had.

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