Smoked turkey is a certified crowd pleaser. It's a great centerpiece, it tastes great and best of all it's surprisingly easy to create.
With its luscious meaty flavour, enriched texture and when paired with a spicy seasoning, it is hard to resist.
This recipe is guaranteed to give you legendary status at your next family gathering!!
When smoking a turkey, an expensive grill with all the bells and whistles is not going to help you. The best thing to do is get your hands on an electric smoker. Any electric smoker will do to nail our two favorite methods.Note: Just make sure you pick a turkey craving knife, this will save your pride, bird and fingers!
Charlie's Hot Tip
Make sure you are in no rush, smoking a turkey in electric smoker takes time. Be well organised and wait out the whole process. Your end result will be well worth the wait.
The Bare Bones Smoked Turkey Recipe
1. Thaw Your Turkey
The first thing that you need to do is to make sure your turkey is well defrosted. Never start to cook meat when any parts are still party frozen.
2. Clean Your Turkey
After the turkey is defrosted, make sure you clean your turkey. Start by removing the neck, gizzard, and the insides. Once the insides have been removed, give the inside a good rinse.
Tip: Save the neck and gizzard for an amazing soup later on!
3. Brine Your Turkey
Before starting to smoke this masterpiece you need to brine it, This will enhance the bird's moisture absorption, break down the muscles and tenderize the meat. For a simple brine, submerge the bird in a mixture of water and kosher salt. If you need to weigh the bird down to keep it submerged.
4. Rinse and Dry Your Turkey
Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it with cold water, making sure to not forget the cavity. Once well rinsed let dry for 12 - 24 hours. This makes sure the flavors of the brine are evenly dispersed throughout the meat.
5. Season Your Turkey
Season the whole turkey with your favorite spice mix. Make sure you use a dry rub for the inside of the cavity and a wet rub on the outside.
6. Smoke Your Turkey
The time you have been waiting for! Smoking time!
Preheat your electric smoker to 225°F and once at temperature oil the grade to stop the bird from sticking.
You are now ready to add your bird! Put a temperature probe in the breast and let it smoke until the breast reaches 165°F.
Smoked Turkey Benefits
If you followed the recipe above by now you will agree that it is an amazing tasting recipe.
This smoked turkey recipe doesn’t only taste good it is actually full of nutrients for you!
- Turkey is a great source of protein, which means it will keep you fuller for longer.
- Turkey has a very lean muscle mass, this means that it helps the body keep a stabilized insulin level in the body.
- Turkey has high levels of B-6 & B-12 vitamins, as well as choline and zinc.
- Turkey breast has far less calories than other meats, so it is a great healthier alternative to others meats.
Our Tips For Smoking Turkey
Using an Electric Smoker
As you can tell by the recipe, smoking a turkey is not a fast process. Some people get too excited and put the turkey in their electric smoker too early. Wait until your smoker has had a chance to come to temperature and your wood chips and have a chance to start turning to ash.
You can tell when the turkey is ready to go in when the wood chips start producing a thin blue smoke. Make sure you thoroughly clean your drip pans before and after each cook, the last thing you want is a flare up!
Using A Proper Knife
Not having the correct tools is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you check out my guide on the best carving knife, to ensure you do justice to your delicious bird!
Pick The Right Smoke
Different meats absorb smoke differently. Turkey will absorb smoke faster than red meat so it’s very important that you use a very mild wood chip, this will stop the turkey from being overpowered by smoke.
Spatchcock The Turkey
Spatchcocking your turkey is a way to help the turkey absorb more smoke and cook more evenly. This is because once the turkey is spatchcocked it has more surface area and is more uniform. The bird will also cook much faster because it is flatter.
Spatchcocking is a fairly simple process, all you need to do is remove the spine of the bird so it can lay flat, this is great for those of you who have a smaller smoker or fridge space.
Soaking Wood Chips or Dry Wood Chips
There is great debate over what is better to smoke with wet wood chips or dry wood chips. In your electric smoker, you can use both. As a general rule of thumb use soaked wood chips if you are smoking low and slow.
If you are smoking low and slow be sure to soak your wood chips for at least 30 minutes. Soaked wood chips release a less intense smoke and burn far slower than dry wood chips. Whereas dry wood chips burn much faster with a more intense heat.
How Long To Smoke A Turkey
Like most meats, there is no set time you should smoke a turkey for. There are a few factors that come into play.
- The size and shape of your turkey
- The temperature of your electric smoker
- How often the smoker is opened once the bird is in
As a general rule of thumb, you want to cook the turkey for around 30 minutes per pound at 230°F.
Charlie's Hot Tip
The best woods for smoking in an electric smoker are cedar, alder, cherry, maple, plum, and hickory. Depending on what meat you are smoking of course.
My Favourite Smoked Turkey Recipe
Smoking A Turkey In A Gas Smoker
- 1 whole turkey
- 1 pound of brown sugar
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 2 quarts of apple juice
- 3 quarts of cold water
- 3 oranges cleaned and quartered
- 4 ounces fresh ginger thinly sliced (skin on)
- 6 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves peeled and crushed (the bigger the better)
- 15 whole cloves
- Add the apple juice, brown sugar, and salt into a large saucepan. Over a high heat bring to the boil and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved boil for 1 minute further and remove from heat. Let the mix cool to room temperature and refrigerate until 40°F.
- In a very large corrosive container, add the remaining ingredients together with the apple juice mixture. Place the turkey into the brine breast side down. If you need to weigh down the turkey with a weight to keep it fully submerged. Set aside in the fridge for 12 - 24 hours (for best results leave for 24 hours).
- After 24 hours remove the turkey from the brine. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels and set on a rack with baking paper below and set in the fridge to air dry overnight. This step is not essential but will give you a nice crispy skin.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge. Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the body. Set aside and let rise to room temperature. Now you can start to prepare your smoker.
- Fire up your electric smoker and get it to 350°F. Once it starts to produce smoke, get your turkey in there! You need to smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F in the thickest park if the breast. This should be around 2 - 3 hours.
- Once the turkey is cooked remove from the electric smoker and rest for 20 - 30 minutes uncovered.
- Carve and serve!
This golden spicy turkey skin is definitely a worthy piece for any festive event, Saturday afternoon barbecues included.
Electric smokers are an easy and very tasty way to cook your turkey to perfection. All the hard work is done in the prep, and let's be real it's really too difficult.
Once the turkey has been brined simply plug it in, set the timer, and let it cook until beautiful and smoky.
Whats your favourite turkey rub?