Smoked Turkey

This smoked turkey recipe is simple and packs a tasty punch!

It’s been months since I’ve last posted on here. Even though I’ve been quite lazy super busy, I’ve still been BBQ’ing religiously. I appreciate the folks on Instagram who have reminded me that I actually have a following and that my buddy Jade isn’t the only one who visits this website. With that knowledge, I’m back posting in time for Thanksgiving!

Last year I smoked a few turkeys and I even posted about it. While those turkeys turned out well, I think the one I smoked last week was even better. So much that I’m gonna post about it!

Thawing the bird

When you buy your turkey, it will most likely be frozen. they say it can take about 24 hours to thaw out in your fridge, but ain’t nobody got time for that! Expedite the process by putting your turkey in the sink and filling it up with cold water. It’s okay if the turkey isn’t completely submerged. You can rotate it every once in a while. This thawing process took me about six hours. Granted, the thawing process will vary depending on how big of a bird you have.

Remove the stuff from the inside

After the bird is thawed, remove the packaging and rinse of the turkey. After you’ve done that, dig up the turkey’s rectum and you’ll find these surprises: turkey neck, pack of gizzards, and usually a pack of gravy. If you don’t find the pack of gizzards, then dig around the cavity where the head/neck used to be. That is where I have found it.

Brining ingredients (not pictured: water).
Brining ingredients (not pictured: water).

Brine time!

Once you have those removed, it’s brine time!  I made a simple brine of water, kosher salt, brown sugar, apple juice, and sliced apples (see measurements in recipe above). Since I don’t have a ton of space in my fridge, I do my brine in a cooler. The measurements call for one gallon of water, but I needed at least three gallons to submerge my turkey fully in it. I tripled the brine recipe to make sure I had equal components. After tossing in all of the ingredients, I put a bunch of ice cubes in to keep it cool while I brine overnight (8-12 hours). Oh, and don’t forget to stir the brine ingredients as to not have the kosher salt and brown sugar settle at the bottom or the brine is much less effective.

Brine time! You may not believe this, but there's a turkey in there.
Brine time! You may not believe this, but there’s a turkey in there.

Spatchcock that bird

After the turkey is finished brining, pull it out and pat it dry.  If you prefer to spatchcock your bird, now’s the time to do it. To spatchcock, turn the bird back facing upward and completely cut along both sides of the spine. You’ll want a sharp knife, maybe even a meat cleaver, and some muscles to cut through this. The advantage to smoking a spatchcocked turkey is that it cuts your smoke time down from six or seven hours to four or five. Some say it also provides a more thorough smoke penetration. If you are planning to smoke other items when you smoke your turkey, make sure you have enough room because a spatchcocked bird takes up a lot of grill space. It’s okay if you keep the turkey whole. It will still taste great! You can also follow the this link here for more details.

Now you apply the rub. I like to be a tad generous with my application of this because it brings out more flavor. One big piece of advice I can give you is to get the rub both over AND under the skin. Applying under gets into the meat instead of on the layer of skin that will easily come off after its cooked, anyway. If you decide to do the herbed butter, which I highly recommend, apply under the skin. When doing the rub on the skin, rub a layer of olive oil, or even mayo, on to help the rub stick better to the outer layer.

About three hours in. Using the Chef Alarm from Thermoworks to gauge meat temps (three hours in).
About three hours in. Using the Chef Alarm from Thermoworks to gauge meat temps (three hours in).

Going on the grill

It would be best to get your smoker going before pulling the turkey out of the brine so it will be ready just in time. I smoked my spatchcocked bird for five hours at 275°F, or until the internal temp reaches close to 165°F. Keep in mind when you take the meat out, it will still cook for a little bit.

Let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes so the meat can build up those tasty, succulent juices. Then carve up that bad boy and enjoy!

Once you've had smoked turkey, you won't go back.
Once you’ve had smoked turkey, you won’t go back.
Smoked turkey: the final result!
Smoked turkey: the final result!

The recipe!

Smoked Turkey

Smoking a turkey on Thanksgiving just might become your new tradition!

Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 16 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 whole turkey
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or mayo)
  • 1/2 cup butter (same as one stick)
  • 2 Tablespoons (minimum) of your favorite rub
  • BRINE
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • HERBED BUTTER
  • 1/2 cup (aka- 1 stick) butter, softened
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sage, chopped

Instructions

  1. Remove turkey from packaging, remove packet, gizzards from inside of bird. Set aside.
  2. Prepare brine by combining water, kosher salt, brown sugar, apple juice, and sliced apples into a cooler or five-gallon bucket. Double or triple the brining ingredients as necessary to have the turkey completely submerged. Place turkey in brine in the refrigerator overnight or for 12 hours.
  3. Make herbed butter by combining butter, garlic, parsley, thyme, chives, and sage. Set aside.
  4. Preheat grill/smoker to 250F, using pecan wood (or smoking wood of your choice)
  5. Remove turkey from brine and rinse off the bird. Spatchcock the bird as described here
  6. Using your hand, create separation between the skin and the meat by starting where the head used to be. As you create separation between the skin and the breasts, smooth in some herbed butter. Then put in the rub. Repeat the process with butter and rub on top of the skin.
  7. Put turkey on grill at 250F and cook for four hours or until the middle of the thickest part of the turkey breast reaches 165F. Remove from grill/smoker and let rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Keep in mind the prep time is so long mostly due to the brining of the turkey. This is usually done overnight.

If you decide not to spatchcock, the bird will take an extra couple of hours to cook.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

varies

Serving Size:

4 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 3g

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