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Summer’s Best Whole BBQ Turkey

One of our favourite things about summer is eating outside. Picnics and patios and barbecues, oh my!

Summertime is the perfect time for inviting family and friends over for a big backyard barbecue, and Canadian turkey is your ideal grilling partner! Think turkey burgers, kebabs, barbecued drumsticks, breast rolls, sausages, wings… Turkey is a lean and light protein perfect for sweltering summer days, and with so many cuts of dark and white meat available, the variety is endless. Substitute turkey into any of your fave BBQ recipes for a lighter version low in fat but full of flavour. (Bonus: the lean fat content of turkey also reduces flare-ups on the grill!)

Did you know you can even barbecue a whole turkey?

When you’re feeding a crowd, a whole barbecued turkey is a great choice! It’s economical and surprisingly easy to prepare which makes it perfect for weekend get-togethers, summer celebrations, family reunions, parties, and picnics. Grill up some fresh corn and your favourite veggies in foil packets for easy peasy side dishes, and save the leftovers for quick and easy lunches the next day, like these clever turkey snack jars!

Summer’s Best BBQ’d Turkey

Canadian Turkey
Prep Time 15 mins
Servings 8


For turkey

  • 1 whole Canadian turkey 12-16 lbs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Thyme finishing sauce

  • 1/2 cup melted butter or olive oil warmed
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Dry turkey, inside and out, with paper towels.
  • Season the turkey with oil, salt and pepper, inside and out. Stuff the cavity with lemon pieces.
  • Pre-heat barbecue to 350°F (175°C).
  • Barbecue with indirect heat for 15 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 180°F (82°C). Ensure you use a meat thermometer to check for doneness as cooking times can vary significantly with individual barbecues.
  • Combine finishing sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  • During the last hour of cooking, baste the turkey with the finishing sauce, every 15 minutes. Discard any sauce that may remain.
  • Remove the turkey from the grill and let rest for at least 20-30 minutes.
  • Discard lemon pieces from the cavity.
  • Carve and serve.


If your turkey starts to char a little on the grill, cover loosely with tin foil. Remove the foil during the last hour of cooking to let the skin crisp up.

7 Ways To Grill Up Big Flavour With Your Turkey Cuts

Barbecuing is serious business. There’s a lot more to the art of grilling than meets the eye. Check out these grilling tips from Canadian Turkey to make your barbecued turkey extra special this summer!

  1. Learn to use direct and indirect heat. Direct heat works best to sear turkey, develop savoury crusts on your cuts, create flavourful grill marks, and cook smaller or thinner cuts of meat quickly. Indirect heat works for larger cuts of meat that need to cook low and slow, coaxing out flavours while keeping cuts moist and tender.
  2. Smoke and sizzle mean big flavour! Use the barbeque to brown your turkey and create caramelization that adds big, bold flavour and keeps your meat juicy and tender. Smoke adds that unique and special BBQ taste, allowing you to cut down on salt, sugar and fat.
  3. Use dry and wet rubs to season your turkey cuts. Turkey marries well with a wide variety of herbs and spices, so feel free to experiment with your favourite combinations to enhance taste and texture.
  4. Cook your entire meal on the BBQ – appetizers, side dishes, vegetables and even desserts can be cooked over the grill. Cooking entire meals on the grill will give you juicy meat and tasty vegetables. Grilling locks in moisture and adds natural smoky flavour, cutting down on the need for extra fat, salt and sugary sauces. Visit Canadian Turkey to explore a library of amazing grilled turkey recipes!
  5. Marinate your cuts to add big flavour and help to keep your turkey moist and juicy. Infuse flavour into your meats by marinating with healthy fats like olive oil, and adding citrus, beer, wine or vinegar and fresh herbs, spices and rubs.
  6. Prep your turkey meat for the grill. Remove from the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before cooking to allow the meat to come to room temperature. Dry the meat off with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. This will promote an even sear and avoid steaming the meat.
  7. Don’t crowd the meat! When grilling your turkey, leave space between the turkey pieces to promote even heat circulation and ensure consistent cooking.

Everything You Need to Know About Turkey Cuts

Download this handy “Everything You Wanted to Know About Cuts” guide to find out which turkey cuts are best for stuffing, roasting, making soup, or on the barbecue. Discover all the different turkey options that you can enjoy on the grill this summer!

Click to download your free guide!

Visit your local grocer or butcher to see the variety of 100% Canadian-raised whole turkey and turkey cuts available, including ground meat, legs, drumsticks, thighs, breast steaks, breast rolls, breast roasts, drummettes, wings, sausages, and burgers.

Looking for additional tips, recipes and how tos? Visit Canadian Turkey for delicious grilling recipes, helpful grilling tips and techniques, and the Summer Grilling Guide for everything you need to know to get tasty, nutritious and versatile Canadian turkey on your table this summer! Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Canadian Turkey. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. Your experience may differ.

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