Best Way to Smoke a Turkey

Turkey is one bird that is gaining massive popularity amongst meat lovers in America. It is also catching up quickly in Europe. Gone are the days when you had to wait for Thanksgiving to have smoked Turkey with friends and family.

Some think smoking turkey is a complicated task and only accomplished chefs can achieve it. Let us change this mindset. Many have this perception that the whole turkey must be roasted in the oven and hesitate on the thought of cooking the bird on the grill, but it is not as difficult as it seems.

Are you searching for the best way to smoke a turkey?

Get your hands on the freshest, free-range turkey of superior quality. Why restrict yourself in buying frozen meat when you have the option of consuming it extremely fresh? If you still opt for the frozen meat, let it slowly thaw for 2-3 days before actually cooking it.

Confused about what should be the ideal weight of the turkey for best way to smoke a turkey? Connoisseurs say that it should be between 12-14 pounds. If it is more than that, you risk it by overcooking the exterior and center not being cooked properly. This is enough to feed almost 10-12 people. If there are fewer attendees, you can always stock it for later purposes.

Turkeys have this extremely useful quality of not rotting as long as it is kept in a freezer. If by chance, you over-estimate the quantity, keep it in the freezer for 6 months and it won't spoil. Remember to cover it properly before keeping storing it in the fridge. It is still recommended that you consume it as soon as possible so you get the most flavor out of your meal.

best way to smoke a turkey

Brine it properly

To get that perfect turkey for dinner, brining the bird properly is a must. This is considered the first phase in which you add distinctive flavors in all parts of the turkey. This includes inside, every part in the middle and even outside the turkey. Now dissolve a cup and a half of salt and a cup of brown sugar in one-gallon of water. Now let the turkey rest in the water for a day. To add extra flavors, you can add vinegar, molasses, peppercorns, bay leaves, ginger, BBQ rub, Worcestershire sauce or any flavor that you personally enjoy.

To prevent the mess, put the turkey and the brine in a large plastic bag. Leave this bag in the cooler with a little ice while it rests.

Let’s Cook!

The wait is finally over. It might take around 3-4 days to complete the entire process mentioned above. But after implementing the best way to smoke a turkey, you would think that the wait was worth it.

The Turkey should be extremely plump and flavorful. Stuff the cavity with ingredients such as apples, onions, and celery to ensure rich flavors, maintain moistness and to help it cook evenly. Do not forget to add herbs. Rosemary and sage are recommended as they go amazingly well with the turkey. Traditional stuffing should be avoided. This is because the temperature may not rise high enough to kill the micro-organisms inside.

Now let us focus a bit on the outside. Give the turkey a light wash with canola oil, or simply brush with some melted butter. This would ensure that the rub would stick to the turkey. A nice golden-brown color would also appear on the surface of the meat because of this process. For the rub, make a simple mixture of salt, pepper, and crushed garlic. Look out in the supermarkets and find a suitable poultry seasoning. Add that to the mixture. Rub this mixture everywhere around the turkey. Make sure to cover each and every part including the outside and inside evenly.

Another process of adding flavor is via injecting it. Mix some spices, flavors, seasonings in melted butter and inject it in the turkey.

smoked turkey on the grill

Let’s begin the best way to smoke a turkey!

Prepare the smoker. Read the manual carefully on how to prepare the it properly.

For a water smoker:

Put the turkey on top, with breast up. Soak the wood chips before placing them on the coal, if you are using it. Maintain the temperature to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Replenish briquettes and water as necessary. Cook until the meat reaches 165° F in the breast and 175° F–180° F in the thigh. The cooking time will range between 6-10 hours for a bird over 12 lbs.

For electric smoker:

Cook for 8-12 hours at a set temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Or cook it till inner thigh reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is an indication to follow to get that delectable piece of turkey. Within 4 hours, the turkey must reach 140 degrees F. If it fails to reach, complete the rest of the procedure in an oven. Use a probe thermometer to test the temperature inside and outside. This would also indicate whether the meat is safe to eat or not.

The regular grill can also be used that comes with the smoker box and combination grill. But it should have a lid and should be able to keep the temperature around 275-300 degree F.

For pellet grills:

If you are a fan of smooth and smoky flavor in your meat, add a few pecan pellets. With more melted butter mix, turn and baste the turkey every half an hour.

Let the turkey cook properly before carving it.

There are generally some doubts in the minds of people regarding the best way to smoke a turkey. Some of the frequently asked questions are mentioned below:

  • Is wet brining better or dry brining? It is always better to dry brine your bird as it is easier, makes your turkey juicier and also adds the required flavor. Wet brining dilutes your flavor of turkey.
  • Should I smoke the whole turkey or butterfly it? Butterflying is the preferred method. It ensures juicy breast meat, completely cooked legs, and crisp outer core.
  • Should the wishbone be removed? It all depends on your convenience. Removing it before cooking will only make it easier to carve the turkey. And especially when you carve a hot juicy turkey.