The beautiful thing about cooking big for camping is that you can either serve a large crew and see the smiles of appreciation on all of their faces… or you have lots of leftovers and barely have to worry about cooking anymore during rest of the trip. But either way, cooking a whole turkey at the campsite is a major undertaking. The results are delicious and appreciated by the campers lucky enough to get an invite to partake in the banquet, but it’s a lot of work.
You can go the turkey luau route, which is fun and can involve everyone in the prep and cooking process, but it’s exactly that… A PROCESS.
To make cooking a whole turkey at the campsite a bit easier and less preparation intensive, you can use a gas or charcoal grill as long as it has a lid. You can even use a cast iron Dutch oven if you can find one large enough to hold your bird.
Whichever you choose, a Turkey Cannon can help ensure the best results and deliver that golden brown all over skin that you see on the cooking magazine covers and television shows. Also known as an infusion roaster, a turkey cannon is basically a rack with a curved cylinder in the center onto which you slide the turkey. It holds the bird suspended in the center of your cooking vessel without touching anything else. The hidden bonus is you can fill the tube on which the turkey rests with liquid like beer, wine, or fruit juice. That helps flavor the bird from the inside and enhances the moisture in the meat during the entire cooking process.
Because the heat is able to reach all of the bird’s surfaces evenly, it’s easy to develop that golden brown skin and speeds the cooking significantly. Remember, like all turkey cooking methods, you should cook to an internal temperature rather than to a time.
In your grill, you can either put the turkey on the infusion roaster directly onto the grate or you can place the roaster in a pan to catch the drippings to include them in the gravy.
Check out 50 Campfires recipe for infusion roasting turkey on the grill right here.
- 12 lb. turkey
- Turkey brine (optional)
- ¼ cup cooking oil (canola oil works well)
- Favorite dry rub seasonings
- Favorite fresh herbs to place in cavity during roasting
- Favorite flavoring liquid (beer, wine, apple cider, etc.) to fill infuser cylinder
- Camp Chef Turkey Cannon Infusion Roaster
- Your gas or charcoal grill with cover large enough to accommodate turkey
- Roasting pan large enough to accommodate Turkey Cannon without bird touching sidewalls (optional)
- Remote reading meat thermometer
- Completely thaw the turkey and prepare as you would for normal roasting. If you prefer, brine the turkey for 8-12 hours before roasting.
- Thoroughly rinse the turkey and pat dry inside and out with paper toweling. Allow to air dry thoroughly so the skin has no moisture on it. This also allows the whole bird to come to room temperature, which is optimal.
- Insert your favorite fresh herbs loosely into the cavity of the bird. Trim away any excess skin or fat. Paint the cooking oil on all skin surfaces.
- Season inside and out with your favorite dry rub seasoning.
- Preheat grill to 350°F.
- Fill cylinder on Turkey Cannon with favorite flavoring liquid (beer, wine, apple cider, etc.)
- Insert cylinder into turkey through the back cavity so the ends of the drumsticks point toward the base of the cylinder and bird is suspended in the air. If necessary use butcher twine to bind up wings and legs so they don’t hang down toward the fire.
- If you’re using a roaster pan to catch the drippings for gravy, place the turkey on the cannon into the pan. Otherwise place the Turkey Cannon right onto the grill grate.
- Insert remote reading meat thermometer probe into center of breast without contacting any bone. Set to signal at 175°F.
- Bird will take 2-3 hours to cook. However, you’re primarily cooking to reach the right internal temperature rather than a set period of time.
- For golden crispy skin, baste the bird with butter or olive oil every 15 minutes, but be aware opening the grill this often is going to prolong cooking time. In the last 15-20 minutes, raise grill temperature to 400°F and don’t open the lid again until your thermometer tells you the bird is done.
- Remove bird from the grill and allow to rest in place on the Turkey Cannon for 20 minutes.
- Remove bird from Turkey Cannon, carve and serve.