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How to Smoke a Turkey

How to Smoke a Turkey

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Smoking a whole turkey is easier than you think! Tips on how to Prepare, How to Brine, What temperature to Smoke a Turkey, and How long to Cook!

How to Smoke a TurkeyHow to Smoke a Turkey

We’ve been married for 23 years, and had Turkey every year for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Typically, we’ve usually had  Oven Roasted Turkey, and a few times we’ve had Fried Turkey, but last year, we researched How to Smoke a Turkey and tried that for the first time!

It was DELICIOUS!

In fact, every last bite of the 15 lb Turkey was devoured, and people were looking for more.

I’d just had major surgery, so Nick and the boys were on their own for the Thanksgiving Dinner Meal Preparation.

We have some amazing local friends who invited us to eat dinner with them, they handled most of the meal, we just brought the Turkey, a couple of sides, and a dessert.

How to Smoke a Turkey

Years before we moved to Texas, Nick began researching smokers.

He loves to grill and it’s always been his dream to have his own smoker.

He bought a Camp Chef Smoker, and it uses Pellets to smoke. (It was worth the investment, we smoke on it at least 1-2 times per week. Living in Texas, we are able to use it year round.)

When he smokes turkeys, he prefers to use Apple, Hickory, or Cherry Wood Pellets in the smoker.

BRINING THE TURKEY:

We chose a 15lb Butterball Turkey, let it unthaw for a few days ahead of time in the refrigerator, and the day before began the brining process.

It should be completely thawed, not frozen.

Ziploc Big Bag Double Zipper, X-Large, 4-CountZiploc Big Bag Double Zipper, X-Large, 4-CountZiploc Big Bag Double Zipper, X-Large, 4-Count

HOW TO BRINE THE TURKEY

We prepared the turkey (remove giblets, wash, pat dry) then placed the turkey in a XL Ziploc Bag. Add in 1 gallon vegetable broth, 1 gallon ice water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 12 oz molasses, 12 oz honey, 8 oz minced garlic, 1 tbsp rosemary, 1 tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp sage, and 1 tbsp poultry seasoning.

Do you HAVE to brine? No. But, it does come out more flavorful and moist if you do.

SMOKING THE TURKEY:

In our research, we found that the rule of thumb is to smoke the turkey at 275 degrees, 15 minutes for each pound.

We had a 15 lb Turkey, so we smoked it at 275 degrees for just under 4 hours.

When smoking food, the key factor is indirect heat and consistent temperatures.

The goal is to keep your ambient grill temperature at an even 275 degrees F for the entire smoke.

Times may vary according to type of smoker, did it hold a constant temperature, etc. so be sure to allow some extra time and monitor the smoker temperature while it’s smoking.

*Edited to add, we do not spatchcock our smoked turkeys, but you could if you wanted to.

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We use a Food Thermometer to test the temperature before we remove it from the smoker.

Turkey is safe to take eat when it’s reached 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and 180 in the thigh.

When our turkey reached it’s perfect temperature, we removed it to a roasting pan for transport, and allowed it to rest for 20 minutes on our drive to our friends house, covered in foil. When we arrived, we removed the foil, and carved it. We prefer to use an electric carver.

Hamilton Beach Electric Knife for Carving Meats, Poultry, Bread, Crafting Foam & More, Storage Case & Serving Fork Included, White (74250R)Hamilton Beach Electric Knife for Carving Meats, Poultry, Bread, Crafting Foam & More, Storage Case & Serving Fork Included, White (74250R)Hamilton Beach Electric Knife for Carving Meats, Poultry, Bread, Crafting Foam & More, Storage Case & Serving Fork Included, White (74250R)

We received an electric carver as a wedding gift 23 years ago, and it’s still going strong! It makes slicing SO quick and easy, so you can get the turkey on everyone’s plate as fast as possible, and get down to enjoying the meal!

Yield: 12

How to Smoke a Turkey

Thanksgiving Dinner Meal Preparation and Tips
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 16 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • Unthawed Turkey
  • 1 gallon vegetable broth
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 12 oz molasse
  • 12 oz honey
  • 8 oz minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning.

Instructions

    To brine, we prepared the turkey (remove giblets, wash, pat dry) then placed the turkey in a XL Ziploc Bag. Add in 1 gallon vegetable broth, 1 gallon ice water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 12 oz molasses, 12 oz honey, 8 oz minced garlic, 1 tbsp rosemary, 1 tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp sage, and 1 tbsp poultry seasoning.

    Let it soak in the bag, overnight, 8-12 hours.

    Smoke the turkey at 275 degrees, 15 minutes for each pound. We had a 15 lb Turkey, so we smoked it at 275 degrees for just under 4 hours.

Notes

Times may vary according to type of smoker, did it hold a constant temperature, etc. so be sure to allow some extra time and monitor the smoker temperature while it’s smoking.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 10351mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 1gSugar: 40gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below & if you recreate this recipe, be sure to share a photo on Instagram. Tag me @when.is.dinner and hashtag #whenisdinner!

HOW MUCH SMOKED TURKEY PER PERSON?

When determining what size turkey to buy at the supermarket, we estimate 1 1/2 lbs of turkey per person.

The uncooked turkey contains bones, giblets, and other parts of the turkey you won’t be consuming, so while people won’t be EATING that much turkey, that’s the estimated weight prior to preparation.

Also take into consideration who will be eating the smoked turkey.

We fed 9 people with this 15 pound turkey, with no leftovers. However, 5 of those were teenagers (4 boys, 1 girl) ages 14-19. Teenage boys can EAT. It probably would’ve fed 12 adults with leftovers.

Do you Stuff a Smoked Turkey:

Sometimes we stuff ours with Sliced Apples, Oranges, and Butter. 

Other people we know like adding onions and garlic to the mix, but we’ve never tried that simply because I have an onion allergy. I LOVE smoked turkey and if it’s been stuffed with onions, I can’t eat it.

Do you use a rub on your Smoked Turkey:

We have not, yet. We DO use rub on most things we smoke, but the turkeys just haven’t needed it. The flavors from brining it provide a delicious result. I always encourage creativity when cooking, so give it a try if you’d like and share the results in the comments (be sure to let us know what rub mix you used!).

Thanksgiving Dinner Meal Preparation and Tips

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Deb Pelletier

Saturday 14th of December 2019

We love turkey , and this recipe sounds interesting. thanks.

Sandy Klocinski

Saturday 14th of December 2019

I've never actually cooked a turkey. Smoked turkey might just have a better taste. I'll bet it's really awesome

Ashley Chassereau Parks

Thursday 12th of December 2019

I've never tried to cook a turkey. My dad always made the Thanksgiving turkey and now that he has passed, my brother or cousin will cook it. They all traditionally use a smoker to cook it. Its always a bit hit.

Michelle J.

Thursday 12th of December 2019

I think I prefer just a roasted turkey.

LeAnn Harbert

Sunday 8th of December 2019

This looks like it would taste really good and a different way to cook turkey that I haven't done before

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