Our Favorite Smoked Turkey Recipe!
Smoking a turkey is a great way to add a unique twist on an old favorite.
Smoking meat is all about cooking at a low temperature for an extended period of time, low and slow. When dealing with poultry this can be problematic due to the low fat content and the tendency for the meat (especially white meat) to become dry. For this reason it is best to choose a turkey that is no more than 14-15 lbs. If you need to smoke a bigger turkey follow some of the tips below. I always start with a fresh turkey from Harrison’s, this yields the best tasting bird I have found.
I ALWAYS brine my turkey before smoking ensure maximum flavor and moist meat. There are hundreds of brine recipes available online to suit your taste but my favorite is Fire and Flavor Herb Brine. The instructions on the box are straightforward, just be sure to start with a thawed turkey, chill the brine before adding the turkey, be sure to have enough space to keep the turkey refrigerated while it brines overnight.
Once the turkey is brined give it a quick rinse and pat the turkey dry. Tuck the wings under the body and coat the skin with melted butter. This is also a good time to add some additional seasoning into the cavity of the turkey and on the skin.
Never stuff a turkey you are going to smoke!
In order to smoke the turkey you will need a smoker that allows you to regulate the temperature in a reliable fashion. Pellet smokers are a great choice as they require very little attention and hold a consistent temperature. Regardless of the turkey size I always start smoking at 225-235 F. A 12-14 lb turkey should take about 4 hours at this temperature but depending on factors such as the outside temp, wind, starting temp of the turkey, consistency of your smoker temperature, etc the time can vary from 3 hours to 5 hours. Check the temperature often (using a remote read thermometer will help keep the smoker temperature consistent) and adjust your smoking temperature to fit your desired finish time. If you are smoking a turkey much bigger than 14 lbs you will want to increase the smoking temperature to 300-325 after the first 2-3 hours, this will keep the meat from drying out. There is no exact science to this method, but my last 20 lb turkey took ~ 5 hours total, 3 hrs at 225-235 and about 2 hours at 325.