You want to buy a 10-12lb Turkeys because this size turkey cooks evenly throughout the breast and thighs on the smoker. It takes several days to thaw a 12lb turkey, so you’ll need to plan in advance.
Once you have the turkey thawed, it’s time for the brine. I brine my turkeys for 24 hours.
Turkey Brine Recipe:
– 2 gallons of tap water
– 1 cup Brown Sugar
– 1 cup Molasses
– 1 cup Honey
– 1 ½ cup Salt
– ¼ cup The BBQ Rub
– 3-4 Bay Leaves
– Fresh Thyme Bundle
– 1 TBS Whole Peppercorns
In a large stock pot bring 1 gallon of water to a boil and add the brown sugar, molasses, honey, bbq rub, and bay leaves. Once the ingredients have dissolved turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. I make this the night before and refrigerate until time to brine.
Place the turkey inside a bag and pour in the brine. Add the thyme bundle and peppercorns. Top the turkey off with an additional gallon of water and the entire bird should be covered. Close the bag and lay a bag of ice on top. Let the turkey soak for 24 hours replacing the ice as needed.
The next day remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cool water. Allow it to drain and pat off any excess water with paper towels. Cut a couple apples in half and stuff in the cavity. I also add onion and celery. This will add mass to the turkey helping it cook even and gives it some additional flavor.
Smoked Turkey Seasoning:
– 1 cup Kosher Salt
– 1 cup Granulated Garlic
– 1 TBS Poultry Seasoning
First spray the outside of the turkey with cooking spray. Apply the seasoning mix to the outside making sure to cover everything; then apply a light layer of The BBQ Rub.
The next step is to inject the turkey. You can use a store bought injection like Tony’s Creole Butter, but I created my own version.
Smoked Turkey Butter Injection
– 1 stick real butter
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 1 TBS Hot Sauce
– 1 tea Granulated Garlic
– 1 tea Cajun Seasoning (I used Louisanna brand)
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the chicken broth, hot sauce, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. Whisk the ingredients together and remove from heat once incorporated. It doesn’t need to come to a boil.
Let the injection cool and shoot it into the turkey. Hit the breast in 3-4 locations on each side and do the same for the legs and thighs. Before placing the turkey on the smoker, use butcher twine to secure the legs and wings.
Now the turkey is finally ready for the cooker. I smoke turkeys at temps between 275-300 degrees. Higher temps make for a better bird. The outer skin turns a beautiful mahogany color and is almost crispy. For smoke, I use pecan or a fruit wood like cherry. You can over-smoke turkey, so go easy on the wood. Place the turkey on the smoker and set a timer for 1 ½ hours. As long as you maintain temps, there’s not much to do, just let it cook.
When the timer goes off, rotate the turkey on the rack to ensure it is cooking evenly on all sides. I never flip the turkey. It stays on the back, breast up, the entire cook. It takes about 3 ½ hours to smoke a 10-12lb turkey but checking the internal temps is key. It has to hit at least 165 in the breast and 175 in the thigh. When you stick the turkey, juices should run out clear. There should be no trace of blood or pink colored liquid. I start checking the internal about the 2 ½ hour mark just to see where it is. At this point if the outside is starting to get dark, I’ll lay a piece of aluminum foil over it. The foil acts as a tent and will prevent the skin from browning any further.
Once I see a temp of 165 in the thickest part of the breast and the juices are running clear out of the thigh (175 internal), the turkey is done….Almost….you want to let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If you go at it too soon with the knife, all of the juices will run out onto your cutting board and you’ll have dry turkey. Be patient and let things cool off for a few minutes.
Once you try Smoked Turkey you won’t be able to stomach oven cooked bird.