Smoked Pheasant on Charcoal Grill

Smoked Pheasant on a Charcoal Grill

Pheasant is an underutilized bird in the United States. Although its popularity increases during hunting season, just like everything else it is always available online.

Serves – 2            Total cook time – 3 hours

Tip – Some people find the gamey flavor of pheasant too strong. Brining not only reduces these flavors, but also helps the bird retain juices during the slow cooking process.


For the brine

  • 3-4 lb Pheasant, cleaned with giblets removed
  • 2 Gallons cold water (or enough to cover)
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar

To cook

  • 2 lbs. Smoking Blocks (I used maple)
  • Charcoal
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Kosher salt


  1. In a vessel large enough to hold the bird, dissolve the salt and sugar in warm water. Add enough cold water to completely submerge.
  2. Place the pheasant and brine in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  3. Prepare the grill for indirect heat by setting the coals to one side.
  4. Light the charcoal grill and wait for the red embers to develop, add half of the smoking blocks.
  5. Remove the pheasant from the brine, rinse and pat dry.
  6. Trussing is optional but recommended. Set the bird breast side up and cut a long piece of twine. Loop the middle of the twine around the ends of each leg, pull the legs together and pull each end of the twine between the drumsticks and breast. Turn the bird over and tightly tie the two ends together in the center of the back.
  7. Brush the bird with half of the maple syrup and sprinkle with salt
  8. Set the pheasant on the grill with the coals on the opposite side and close the lid. The grill temperature should be between 250° and 300°F at this time.
  9. Leave the lid on the grill. After 2 hours, add the remaining blocks and brush with remaining maple syrup.
  10. When ready, the internal temperature of the breast should be 155° and the legs should reach 165°F.
  11. Let the pheasant rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Maple Smoked Pheasant

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