What changed since last time

  • smaller bird: 9lb Lil’ Butterball
  • added paprika to the brine, 1/2 tsp
  • subtracted thyme, sage, and celery
  • lowered temperature to about 250°
  • using cheaper additive-free 100% hardwood briquets instead of lump charcoal
  • did not oil the skin
  • did not clip the wing tips (never did anything with last year’s)
  • brined the neck along with the rest of the bird and stuffed it into the cavity.


Temperature stabilized at 260° before I put the turkey on. After 2 hours and 30 minutes juices run clear from the thickest part of the breast meat, where I stuck the probe, but the internal temperature is just a little above 140°. Un-oiled skin picked up quite a bit of smoke tint, and I assume flavor along with it, but it has a matte appearance and I don’t think it will be crispy.

Three hours and 20 minutes later internal temperature still not up to 165°, but it has been holding at 160° for some 10 minutes now and there are no more juices when I stab the thick part of the breast. I may have overcooked this bird already, so it’s coming off the fire. The grill gauge still reads 260° and this whole thing took about half a chimney’s worth of charcoal.