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Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey with a Traeger

If you like a perfectly cooked bird with minimal hassle, this is your grill

Cook your Thanksgiving bird with this grill. (Sarah Jackson)
Thanksgiving

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If you like a perfectly cooked bird with minimal hassle, this is your grill

When it comes to cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, everyone has their preference. Some choose to roast it in the oven, while the brave dunk it in a deep fryer. Personally, I will always smoke the bird. I use the Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite 22 Pellet Grill ($630), because it does all the hard work for me.

I’m no foodie or ambitious chef. I’m just after a perfectly cooked, moist and tender turkey. I do the prep of brining, stuffing, and dry-rubbing; twist a knob on the Lil’ Tex Elite to set the temperature at 250 degrees; and start a timer on my phone. Call it cheating, I don’t care. I love cooking over an open flame and have even dabbled in smoking meats. But none of those methods produced anything even close to as tasty as what my Traeger delivers—and with no real thought on my end. The hardest decision I need to make is which flavor of pellets to feed into the grill. (I’m leaning toward cherrywood this year.) The faithful Lil’ Tex Elite even automatically dispenses them into the fire to keep a nice steady cooking temperature.

Nothing’s wrong with using the oven in your kitchen, but I like to keep that space free for making stuffing, casseroles, and pies. And like all my favorite gear, the Traeger gets me outside. This year, we’re doing Thanksgiving at my Aunt Nancy’s house, so I’m going to load up the Lil’ Tex Elite, a turkey, my Nemo Stargazer chair, and a cooler full of Caldera’s Lawnmower Lager so I can post up in the backyard. I don’t care for jockeying with family members for the limited stove and oven space inside.

The Traeger’s steady low smoke, coupled with the brining, locks in the bird’s juices. (Even the day-after turkey sandwiches are amazingly tender.) And slow cooking renders the fat between the skin and meat in a way I haven’t been able to duplicate in an oven or on a grill. But my favorite part about my Traegered birds is their deliciously crispy, salty skin.

I’ve heard deep-frying turkeys can yield good results, but the process and potential for disaster frankly terrify me. I also don’t particularly want the gear to deep-fry a 20-pound animal taking up space in my garage the other 364 days of the year. My Traeger Lil’ Tex Elite offers year-round grilling utility—and I have no problem taking the credit for all of its hard work.

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Filed To: Turkey / Gear / Food and Drink
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