Pulled Whole Turkey Barbecue

By Ray Lampe, "Dr. BBQ"
Culinary Setting
Meal Type
Main Course, Entrée
4 HR 20 MIN

About this Dish

You’ve heard of whole hog barbecue? Well, Dr. BBQ is showing us his spin on whole turkey barbecue! It takes just a few hours and simple prep. Smoking a whole turkey is a simple way to feed a crowd or stock up your freezer. Serve the pulled turkey on a sandwich, as a salad topper, in tacos and quesadillas or as a new pizza topping! Watch Dr. BBQ’s step-by-step approach.

Cooking Style
Whole Turkey
Dish Type


1 10-12 pound whole turkey, fully defrosted

1/4 c paprika

2 tbsp mild chili powder

1 tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp granulated onion

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp cayenne, optional

1/3 c vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

1 c apple juice

1 c chicken broth

1 c barbecue sauce


Prepare the grill or smoker to cook indirect at 300°F with cherry wood added for flavor. Prep the turkey by removing all the packaging, the neck and giblets. Reserve the neck and giblets for another use. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then tuck the wings underneath. With a sharp knife cut a deep slash along each side of the backbone. Then cut another into each leg and each thigh, and three more in each side of the breast.

In a medium bowl combine the paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and onion, cumin and the cayenne, if you’re using it. Mix well. Add the oil and mix well. Set aside.

Place the onion, celery, apples, jalapeno, apple juice and chicken broth in a large grill-friendly roasting pan. (I find the disposable foil pans work great for this.) Season the onion mixture liberally with salt and pepper. Rub the turkey all over with the spice/oil mixture getting it deep into the slashes that you’ve cut. Place the turkey on the onion mixture breast side up. Place the pan on the grill/smoker and cook for 2 hours. Flip the turkey to breast down, cover with foil and cook for about another hour until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of at least 180°F.

Remove from the grill/smoker. Remove the turkey from the pan and allow to cool for about 30 minutes until you can safely handle it. With your hands, pull the meat from the bones. Place the meat in the pan with the onion mixture shredding it as you do. Discard all the skin and bones etc. When all the meat is in the pan, add the barbecue sauce, then shred it again with your hands, mixing it with the onion mixture until it’s a consistency that will work for sandwiches. Cover with foil and return to the grill/smoker for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan and serve to a crowd on a bun with additional barbecue sauce. If you don’t need all of it today, this would be a great time to divide the pulled turkey into portions to freeze for a later use.