There are very few things that beat the mouth watering flavor of a Pit Boss smoked turkey! This delicious turkey is tender, flavoursome, simple to make and has perfectly crispy skin. Its perfect for a festive meal or an easy protein to cook and have leftovers all week long, how doesn’t love a leftover turkey sandwich.
Follow the simple steps below to take your festive feast or weeknight meal to the next level!
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The Perfect Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Crispy Skin
The best part about smoking a turkey is the simplicity. If you prefer to set it and forget this is the perfect recipe. You will need some patience but the end results is so good its worth it, just remeber to allow enough time for your bird to defrost if your using a frozen one.
Another reason I love preparing this smoked turkey is the versatility. You can use this recipe anytime of the year, for your holidays meal, as well as summer or winter. Smoke your turkey and shred it and you can use it on salads for cookouts or in wraps or sandwiches all week long.
What You Need for This Smoked Turkey Recipe
Oranges Cleaned and Quartered
Ginger Thinly Sliced
Garlic Cloves Peeled
Chopped Fresh Herbs
How to Make Pit Boss Smoked Turkey
Below are the seven simple steps to prepping and smoking your turkey using a Pit Boss smoker.
1. Allow The Turkey to Defrost
Allow enough time for the turkey to defrost. This can take up to 3 days, I have included an image that will guide you on when to take your turkey out of the freezer before you cook it.
2: Remove The Innards
Once the turkey is defrosted you will need to remove the innards from the cavity of the turkey.
3: Brine The Turkey
You need to figure out if your turkey is pre-brined or not. If you are using a pre-brined turkey, you do not need to brine the turkey prior to smoking. If your turkey is not already brined, then you should go ahead with the brining process outlined below.
In a large saucepan, combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to ensure the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, let it boil for one minute, then remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until it reaches 40°F.
In a container, blend the remaining ingredients into the apple juice mixture. Place the turkey in the brine, breast side down. You may need to use a weight to keep the turkey fully submerged. Set the container in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours (for optimal results, aim for 72 hours).
After 24 (or ideally, 72) hours, remove the turkey from the brine. Thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels and place it on a rack inside a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Let it air dry in the fridge overnight. While not essential, this step will help achieve a crispy skin.
4: Pat, Dry and Tie The Turkey
Take the turkey out of the fridge. Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the body. Then cover the turkey in butter and season with your BBQ rub. At this point, you can start preparing and preheating your smoker.
5: Preheat The Smoker
Preheat you smoker to 225°F.You want to smoke your turkey with a consistent temperature and indirect heat. Place a drip tray or shallow pan under the turkey to catch the drippings. You can use this for turkey gravy later!
6. Smoke The Turkey
Once it reaches 225°F, place your turkey in the smoker breast side up away from the direct heat.
As a general guideline at 225°F, a whole turkey will require approximately 30 minutes per pound. Smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer registers 165°F in the thickest part of the breast, which should take around 6 to 8 hours, depending on the turkey’s size.
7. Allow The Turkey to Rest
You need to allow the turkey to rest for 15 -20 minutes. If you cover it with foil you might find that the skin isnt as crispy. You can place it in the oven for a broil to get the skin crispy again.
Carve and serve with your favorite sides!
How Long to Smoke a Turkey
The general rule of thumb is to smoke for a half-hour per pound when cooking at a temperature of 225F.
However, it’s best to monitor the internal temperature, rather than going by cook time as it may fluctuate depending on the cooking temperature and the size and quality of the bird.
You should aim to reach an internal temp of 165F, the food safety standards recommendation. Monitor this temperature with a temperature probe.
Choosing Your Turkey
When it comes to smokers, bigger is not always better. A smaller bird works best on a pellet grill, mainly for food safety reasons.
It’s best to limit the weight to 15 pounds of turkey maximum. Drawing out the cooking process too long increases the risk of bacteria thriving.
Should you need more than a 15-pound turkey, it’s best to cook two birds. You’ll struggle to reach the internal temperature if the bird is too large, and you’ll spend all day waiting for it to cook.
When smoking a turkey, it’s best not to use stuffing. The idea is to allow as much smoke and air to flow through the bird as possible. You just rub the cavity of the turkey with delicious ingredients like butter and aromatics.
Brining The Turkey
Brining is a good way to increase the flavors and maintain moisture. The brine can help with getting crispy skin on smoked turkey by drawing out excess moisture and allowing it to slightly dry on the surface whilst keeping the flesh succulent.
There are two types of brining, wet brine and dry brine. I I would recommend going with a wet brine, as it gives more flavor to the turkey however you can also try the dry brine method.
How to Wet Brine a Turkey
After the turkey has thawed to room temperature, rinse off with cold water to remove any residue and pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix the solution of salt, water, chicken stock, and any herbs, spices, and seasonings, boiling together then let cool.
Place the turkey in an airtight container or brine container, completely covered in the brine solution. Let stand in the fridge for around 18-24 hours.
When you are ready to smoke the turkey, remove it from the brine and let stand to reach room temperature before placing it in the pellet smoker.
You can also try my apple cider vinegar brine for smoked turkey. It ensures your turkey is super juicy and flavorful every time.
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
If you want to avoid all the mess, try a dry brine instead. Rinse, dry then cover the entire bird with a layer of kosher salt and desired seasonings, such as black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, or whatever else you add to your favorite turkey brine recipe.
Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.
Just before smoking, wipe off the excess moisture and salt, and season with the dry ingredients of herbs, spices, and seasonings.
What Type of Pellets to Use for Turkey
One of the most important things is picking the flavor of wood chips to smoke the turkey. Sweeter, subtle flavors are best for turkey meat to give a subtle smoky flavor without overpowering the meat. Here some of the types of of wood I like to use maple, hickory, apple, pecan, and cherry woods.
What to Serve With Smoked Turkey
Looking For More Turkey Recipes?
If you’re a fan of this smoked turkey recipe, be sure to explore my collection of smoked turkey recipes! There are multiple approaches to smoking a turkey, and I want to ensure you present the best bird you can.
Pit Boss Smoked Turkey Recipe
- 1 12lb Whole Turkey
- 1 lb brown sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 2 quarts apple juice
- 3 quarts cold water
- 3 whole oranges cleaned and quartered
- 4 ounces ginger thinly sliced
- 6 whole bay leaves
- 6 cloves garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- 15 whole whole cloves
- 200 g Unsalted butter
- 1 bunch Chopped fresh herbs
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- To a large saucepan add the apple juice, brown sugar and salt. Over a high heat bring to the boil making sure you stir until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for one minute once dissolved then remove from the heat. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate until 40°F.
- In a large container, add the remaining ingredients together into the apple juice mixture. Place the turkey into the brine breast side down. You might need to weigh down the turkey with a weight to keep it fully submerged. Set aside in the fridge for 24 -72 hours (for best results leave for 72 hours).
- After 24 (or ideally 72 ) hours remove the turkey from the brine. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels and set on a rack inside a baking tray lined with baking paper 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 and pre heat your smoker.
- Fire up your smoker according to your manufacturers specifications and pre heat it to 225°F. Once you have reached 225°F get your turkey in there!
- As a rule of thumb at 225°F a whole turkey will take around 30 minutes per pound. You need to smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F in the thickest park of the breast. This should be around 6 – 8 hours depending on the size of your turkey.
- Carve and serve with your favorite sides!
What are your family’s favorite sides for smoked turkey?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).
I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!
You can read more about me on our About Us page.
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