How to Smoke a Turkey

Turkey_doneThe holidays are right around the corner and I’m sure that most of you reading this are looking to smoke a turkey instead of cooking a dry one in the oven, or attempting to fry one and make a huge mess. Just like a smoked whole chicken, turkeys are done in a similar fashion and turn out tender and juicy, as long as you do it right and don’t overcook it! The results you will get from this recipe is a satisfyingly savory flavor, with a hint of smokiness. Adjust this according to your taste buds, as I often change up the ingredients depending on what I have on hand, and what kind of mood I’m in.

24-hour Brine

A whole chicken can be brined in just 4 hours. When you start working with a larger bird, you really need to go up to 24 hours to ensure full penetration into the meat. While the brine is quick and easy, the hardest part is finding a container that is big enough to hold the turkey, yet small enough to fit in the fridge. During the winter months, I often brine outdoors or in the garage when the Minnesota / Wisconsin area is extremely cold. Here’s the easy recipe below to get started.

1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Better than Bouillon Chicken Flavor
1 Gallon of Room Temperature Water

Brine Directions

  1. Mix the brine ingredients until dissolved.
  2. Remove the packaging from the turkey (including the giblets bag and neck) and then rinse the carcass under running water.
  3. Place the turkey in the brine and seal the container. Store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Cooking Ingredients

4 Tablespoons of Butter
Fresh Thyme Sprigs and Sage
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Paprika
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Whole Turkey
1 Apple, Sliced
Bacon (optional)
Maple Syrup


  1. Remove the turkey from the brine, wash it and then pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the butter with the leaves from two springs of thyme and sage. Blend the ingredients together with your fingers by mashing the herbs into the butter.
  3. Carefully pull back the skin on the breasts and rub the butter mix over the meat so that the butter is stuck between the skin and breast meat.
  4. Using cooking twine, tie the legs and wings up towards the breast so that they do not dangle down on the grill grate and overcook.
  5. Place the apple slices inside the carcass. Do not put stuffing in the bird when smoking at a low temp!
  6. Coat the entire skin with olive oil. This will allow the rub to stick and allow the skin to crisp up.
  7. Mix the spices in a small bowl and then sprinkle all sides of the turkey including inside the cavity of the bird.Turkey_prep
  8. Fire up the BGE and set the temp for 250° using the conveggtor (plate setter). Use 3-4 handful size chunks of Maple wood, Pecan or Alder.
  9. Smoke the bird for 30-40 minutes per pound, until the internal temp reaches 165°.
  10. In the last hour, use a 50/50 blend of Maple Syrup and Water to coat the skin.
  11. While cooking, if you notice the breasts are close to reaching the correct internal temp, but the thighs or legs are still not there, you can place rows of bacon across the breasts to help protect the meat from drying out. The bacon will taste great too!Turkey

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