Grilled Turkey with Southwestern Spices

Looking for an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner? This grilled Thanksgiving turkey with southwest seasoning will leave your guests begging for more. Served with a side of grilled butternut squash, it's an instant fall classic. The slight spice in the turkey rub paired with sweet butternut squash is the perfect taste duo for the whole family to enjoy!

Grilled Turkey with Southwestern Spices
Photo: Scott Little
Prep Time:
25 mins
Grill Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Stand Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins


  • 1 8 pound whole turkey

  • ½ cup butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon ground sage

  • 1 teaspoon ground pasilla or ancho chile pepper

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 1 recipe Grilled Butternut Squash (optional)

Grilled Butternut Squash

  • 1 medium butternut squash

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt


  1. Remove neck and giblets from turkey; reserve for another use or discard. Rinse turkey body cavity; pat dry with paper towels.

  2. In a small bowl combine butter, sage, pasilla pepper, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper; set aside. Starting at the neck on one side of the breast, slip your fingers between skin and meat, loosening skin as you work toward the tail end. Once your entire hand is under the skin, free the skin around the thigh and leg area up to, but not around, the tip of the drumstick. Repeat on the other side of the breast. Rub butter mixture under the skin directly on the meat. Skewer neck skin to the back. Twist wing tips behind back. Sprinkle surface and cavity of turkey with salt and black pepper. Tuck drumsticks under band of skin or tie to tail. Insert a meat thermometer into center of an inside thigh muscle.

  3. For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above the pan. Place turkey in a foil pan on grill rack over drip pan. Cover; grill for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until thermometer registers 180°F and turkey is no longer pink, adding fresh coals every 45 to 60 minutes and cutting band of skin or string the last hour of grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Place turkey in a foil pan; place pan on grill rack over burner that is turned off. Grill as directed.)

  4. Remove turkey from grill. Cover with foil; let stand for 15 minutes before carving. If desired, serve with Grilled Butternut Squash.

Grilled Butternut Squash

  1. Cut butternut squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Remove and discard seeds. Brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. For a charcoal grill, grill slices on the rack of a of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals about 8 minutes or until tender, turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place squash slices on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed.)

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

539 Calories
33g Fat
56g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 539
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 215mg 72%
Sodium 335mg 15%
Protein 56g
Calcium 50.5mg 4%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 738mg 16%
Folate, total 24.2mcg
Vitamin B-12 1.2mcg
Vitamin B-6 1.2mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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