How to Roast a Turkey on a Traeger

How to Roast a Turkey on a Traeger. (Image: LauriPatterson/E+/GettyImages)

Traeger grills, fueled by wood pellets, take the guesswork out of roasting a turkey outdoors. No need to fuss with charcoal or worry about fluctuations in temperature — you set it and forget it until the timer goes off. Roast pellet grill turkey comes out moist and evenly browned.

What’s a Traeger?

Traeger is the brand name for a line of wood pellet grills. The electric grills operate the same way as a convection oven: A fan circulates hot air around the food. Hardwood pellets in varieties like hickory, oak, mesquite and apple provide the heat source and impart wood-fired flavor to the meat.

Small pellets are held in a hopper and fed into the grill by an auger, eliminating the need to add charcoal briquettes. A heated rod ignites the wood pellets in the fire pot, and a fan circulates the resulting hot air. You simply plug in the grill, turn it on, set the temperature and wait for it to cook the food.

Under ideal weather conditions, expect to use 1/2 pound of pellets per hour on "low" and 2 1/2 pounds on "high." Consumption increases if it's windy or cold.

Cooking a Turkey on a Traeger Grill

Use your favorite recipe to prepare your turkey for roasting. Traeger suggests making an herb butter and spreading it under the skin of the breast, then brushing it with melted butter and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Remember to take the giblets out of the turkey cavity.

Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast-side up. Tuck the wings under the back and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Pour about 2 cups of stock into the pan.

Fill the hopper and start the grill. Let it heat for 4 or 5 minutes with the lid open. Set the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and close the lid. Let the grill heat for about 15 minutes.

Put the roasting pan on the grill, close the lid and roast for three hours for a 15-pound turkey. Check the internal temperature of the turkey with a probe thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. If the temperature is lower than 165F, let the turkey roast for another 30 minutes; then check the temperature again. Repeat if necessary until the turkey has cooked.

Remove the turkey from the grill and let it rest on a cutting board for about 20 minutes before carving. Make gravy with the pan drippings.

As with all convection ovens, the Traeger turkey time per pound for roasting is about 10 minutes for unstuffed birds. Add about 30 minutes for a stuffed turkey. Calculate 16‒19 minutes per pound for a 5-pound breast.

Pros and Cons of Pellet Grilling

Pros

  • You can do almost anything — roast, smoke, grill and barbecue — on a pellet grill.
  • Pellet grills, like gas grills, preheat quickly.
  • You can cook more items at once because the fan evenly distributes the heat.
  • When
  • smoking meats*, the flavor is more subtle than the over-smoked results that some charcoal or wood smokers produce.
  • Some companies, Traeger included, offer a cold smoker accessory for foods like oysters or salmon.

Cons

  • The grill depends on electricity and can't be used without it. If you depend on your grill for cooking when the power is out, a pellet grill can't be your go-to.
  • Pellet grills don't sear meats, so you won't get grill marks. You can work around this by heating a cast iron pan or griddle on the grill grate and cooking the meat in the hot pan.
  • You'll need to slow-cook at lower temperatures for maximum smoke flavor since higher-temperature cooking produces less smoke.
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