How to Smoke a Butterball Turkey (Just 5 Easy Steps)

Thanksgiving or Christmas is around the corner and you can’t wait to indulge in a delicious turkey dinner?

I feel you! There’s nothing quite like a good roasted turkey.

But have you ever tried smoked turkey? It’s a game-changer.

Smoking a turkey requires plenty of time but it’s totally worth your patience, as it guarantees a delightful smoky flavor and absolute juiciness.  You can cook your smoked turkey on any type of smoker (e.g., pellet smoker, electric smoker, or water smoker) or on gas grills.

Just make sure that whatever you use to prepare your smoked turkey is big enough to contain it.

Let me show you how to smoke a Butterball Turkey (the best in the turkey game) using a water smoker.

Smoked Butterball Turkey Recipe

Follow the recipe below and get ready to dig into the juiciest turkey ever!

Prep Time: Up to 3 days (thawing), 15-20 mins

Cook Time: 4 – 8 hours

Servings: 4 – 8 dishes

Main Ingredients

  • Whole Butterball, Frozen, or Fresh Turkey (8 – 12 lbs.)
  • Marinade or Dry Rub
  • Butter
  • Cooking Oil

The Marinade

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mustard
  • 1 big garlic clove, minced
  • Some fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon sun-dried chili flakes


Method

Step 1: Combine cooking oil, lemon juice, and mustard by whisking until the mixture is homogenous

Step 2: Add thyme and garlic. Mix lightly

Step 3: Pour mix into a meat injector

The Dry Rub

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chili pepper flakes/powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano


Method

Combine all ingredients and mix properly.

Note: Butterball Turkeys are usually pre-brined. For this reason, do not add salt to your marinade or dry rub. If you still want to brine your turkey, follow simple brine recipes before applying a marinade or dry rub. They have some great tips on smoking it here.

Preparing The Turkey

Step 1: If frozen, take the turkey out of the freezer and thaw by fully immersing in a cold water bath. Thawing should take around 2-3 days before cooking. If fresh, skip to Step 2 on cooking day.

Step 2: Unwrap turkey and remove the neck, giblets (and wing tips if you wish)

Step 3: Pat meat dry with clean paper towels

Step 4: Introduce your flavors. Depending on your personal preferences, you may choose to marinate or dry rub

To marinate, add previously prepared marinade to a meat injector and inject at various points – the turkey breast, thighs, wings, and legs

To apply the dry rub, spread some butter all over the turkey and rub the dry spices all over. The butter makes the spices stick to the meat.

Preparing The Smoker

Step 1: Insert two layers of briquettes in the bottom stack of the smoker.  Light briquettes and add smoking wood like apple wood to give your turkey a smoky and sweet flavor.

Step 2:  Place the water bowl (middle stack of the smoker) on top of the bottom stack and fill it with water. This is essential for temperature regulation. Now place the cooking chamber (top stack of the smoker) on top. This is where your awesome turkey will be cooked.

Step 3: Pre-heat smoker between 225-250° F for 10-15 mins

Smoking The Butterball Turkey

Step 1: Brush skin with oil, place the turkey breast side up on the smoker, to get that crispy skin. Put oven-safe meat thermometer into turkey thigh

Step 2: Cover the smoker and close the vents a quarter of the way

Step 3: Add soaked wood to the briquettes for an hour. You may also top-up the water if needed

Step 4: Check your turkey temperature after 3-4 hours and three-quarters of the smoke time. At the first and second temperature check, the turkey temperature should reach 140° F and 165° F, respectively. Your turkey is fully cooked if it reaches an internal temperature of 175°– 180° F in the thigh and 170° F in the breast

Step 5: Turn everything off and allow the finished turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes

Step 6: Serve up and enjoy this succulent, smoking hunk of meat!

Got Leftovers?

Don’t worry smoked turkey can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Just make sure you covered it or put it in a sealed container.

Give this recipe a try, whether you are a newbie or a pro in the turkey game, and you won’t regret it.

Smoke On!

Charlie

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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