There are very few things that beat the mouthwatering flavor of a juicy fresh smoked turkey!
If you’ve been lucky enough to invest in a Pit Boss smoker and have yet to christen it with a turkey, you are in for a treat!.
Let’s step through the best way to take your festive feast to the next level!
Table of contents
How the Pit Boss Pellet Grill Works
A wood pellet grill like the Pit Boss is hands down one of the safest and easiest ways to smoke a turkey in your backyard.
Compared to the alternative gas, electric, propane, or charcoal grill, the pellet grill is fool-proof. Plus you don’t have to babysit it all day!
The pellet grill is made up of several main components – the auger, hopper, igniter, fire pot, and induction fan.
Wood pellets are added to the hopper and are automatically fed into the fire pit by the auger. This is all lit by the ignitor.
The auger can be adjusted to control the flow of wood chips, therefore controlling the temperature and smoke level.
The induction fan continually circulates the smoke through the cook chamber.
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.
To Brine or Not to Brine
Brining is a good way to increase the flavors and maintain moisture. Using a wood smoker infuses extra flavors into the bird, so the decision to brine is a purely personal preference.
Some level of brine can help to achieve crisp skin, by drawing out excess moisture and allowing it to slightly dry on the surface whilst keeping the flesh succulent.
It’s also important to check you don’t brine a pre-brined turkey, as the excess salt results in overly salty meat.
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.
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.
Choosing the Wood Pellets
One of the most important things is picking the flavor of wood chips to smoke the turkey. You can blend your own, or purchase pre-blended flavors for specific meats.
Sweeter, subtle flavors are best for turkey meat to give a subtle smoky flavor without overpowering the meat. Hardwood chips are preferable for turkey and come in flavors such as maple, hickory, apple, pecan, and cherry woods.
The Smoking Process
Place a drip tray or shallow pan under the turkey to catch the drippings. You can use this for turkey gravy later!
Preheat the grill and place the turkey in. Position a temperature probe in the thickest section of the breast, making sure to keep it away from any bone.
Program the grill, and leave it to do its thing, there’s no need to adjust airflow or top up the wood chips. The Pit Boss will do all of that automatically. The only thing you need to monitor is the internal temperatures which you can do with the app, to check when the bird is cooked.
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.
Once you’ve achieved this temperature, remove and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Now the most important step – Enjoy!
Barbeque Cranberry Sauce
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding
Click here to see all the best sides dishes to serve with smoked turkey breast.
Looking For More Turkey Recipes?
Want to try something different or maybe something more traditional I have it all below!
Pit Boss Smoked Turkey Recipe
- 1 12 pound Turkey whole thawed
- 1 Onion - sliced in half
- 1 Apple - sliced in half
- 1 Orange - sliced
- Herbs rosemary sage, parsley
- Heat your smoker or grill to 450F.
- Remove the giblets and tuck the wings under to keep the wingtips from burning
- Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel
- Melt the butter and rub the outside of the turkey wr. Season outside and inside with salt and pepper.Place the herbss, onion, apple and orange inside the bird.Be careful not to overstuff the bird, you need space for air to still circulate
- Place turkey in preheated smoker, directly on grill grate, and smoke at 450°F for one hour. Then reduce the temperature to 225°F until the internal temperature of the turkey breast 165°F.
- Spritzing with apple juice/oil mixture thought the cook
- Make sure you place a pan on the rack under the turkey to catch the drippings.
- Once the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F remove it from the smoker and let rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Carve, serve and enjoy your smoked turkey.
What are your family’s favorite sides for smoked turkey?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
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 adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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