Lime-basted BBQ Turkey

This citrusy, tangy basting sauce will put a twist on your holiday turkey this year! We love turkey any way it’s cooked, but this barbecued turkey with cilantro-lime basting sauce is incredibly delicious! It comes out tender and moist every time and the flavor is so fresh and tangy thanks to the lime juice, Dijon mustard, and all of the fresh herbs in the basting sauce. 

This zesty lime marinade can be made well ahead of time, so on turkey day you don’t have quite as much to do. Mix it up and store it in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Then when you’re ready to roll, just give it a good shake and baste away! We like to baste the turkey every half hour or so as it’s grilling.

Also, remember that cooking a turkey on the barbecue usually goes a bit faster than roasting it in the oven, but this, of course, can depend upon the heat of your grill. We find that where the normal protocol is 15 minutes per pound in the oven, it takes only about 10 minutes per pound on the barbecue. We also bake it indirectly on the barbecue, meaning the turkey is placed over the center burner, with the two outside burners on and the center burner off.

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BBQ turkey with lime-cilantro basting sauce is fresh and tangy and moist and delicious!

We like to stuff the bird with our family’s traditional stuffing, and it comes out perfectly moist, but if you prefer to bake your stuffing separately, just stuff some lime wedges and cilantro sprigs in the turkey cavity before you begin to barbecue it. 

Lime-basted BBQ Turkey

Turkey marinated in a basting sauce of fresh lime juice, Dijon, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and plenty of herbs, then barbecued to perfection!
Servings 8 People
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours



  • One 15 to 18-pound turkey


  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Basting Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage minced (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika


Preparing the rub and basting marinade:

  • Mix all of the rub ingredients and set aside until you’re ready to cook the turkey.
  • Mix all of the basting marinade ingredients and stir well. Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to cook the turkey. This can be made a day or two ahead of time. When you do get ready to cook the turkey, set aside 2 tablespoons of the marinade for making your gravy.

Cooking Turkey:

  • Remove the turkey from its packaging. Clean out the cavities and rinse. (Reserve the neck and cook in a small pot of water for your gravy broth.) Place the bird, breast side up, in an aluminum turkey roasting pan. Mix sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper and rub over the entire turkey. Baste with 1/3 of the cilantro-lime basting marinade. Cook the turkey in an indirect fashion on the barbecue. For a gas grill, which is what we use, turn both outside burners to medium-high (this will vary depending on the grill you have) and keep the middle burner off. Place the turkey breast over the inactive center burner. Cook approximately 10 minutes per pound, or until the bird is completely cooked through.
  • Baste the turkey several times during the grilling process until you've used up the remaining marinade.
  • You will need to start checking for doneness after a couple of hours because grill temperatures can vary significantly. Use a meat thermometer and cook until it registers 165⁰ F. We like to turn the turkey breast side down for the final 30 minutes of cooking to allow the juices to flow to the breast meat.
  • When the turkey is done, remove it from the grill and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before carving.


*We find that cooking the turkey on the barbecue goes much faster than in the oven. Count on 10 minutes per pound on the grill versus 15 minutes per pound in the oven.
*The first time you barbecue a turkey, take note of how long it takes to cook on your own barbecue. Because every barbecue is different and cooks at a different heat level, this is going to be a bit of a subjective process.
*We also stuff our turkey and then barbecue it, but it takes just a bit longer to cook this way. The stuffing is DELICIOUS when it’s been baked inside the bird. But, if you prefer to cook your stuffing separately, simply place some lime wedges and fresh cilantro sprigs in the turkey cavity before you grill it.
*If you love gravy, I will post my husband’s special turkey gravy recipe in time for Thanksgiving!
*Our recipe for homemade jalapeno-lime cranberry sauce is coming soon, again in plenty of time for Thanksgiving!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecued turkey, lime basted turkey
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Treks rsw 1280 51 2

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