Smoke Your Way to Thanksgiving Glory: Mastering the Art of the Smoked Turkey

This “How to Smoke a Turkey” tutorial will show you how simple it is to make the best turkey you’ve ever had if you’ve always wanted to make your own!

This will be the best Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever tasted, in addition to being the best smoked turkey you’ve ever had. Get ready for a Thanksgiving dinner that will wow!.

Smoked Turkeys have something of a mystique surrounding them. Eight weeks before Thanksgiving, people swarm to a nearby store to order smoked turkeys for their Thanksgiving feast.

Everyone in these parts agrees that smoked turkeys are where it’s at flavour and texture-wise. I’m not sure why, given how simple and forgiving the smoking process is, so few people attempt to do it themselves.

The truth is that you’re far, FAR more likely to render a turkey inedibly dry when roasting it. Think of Clark Griswold’s sister-in-law on ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’. Remember how that thing was turkey jerky?.

Forget the dry, bland turkeys of Thanksgivings past. This year elevate your holiday feast with a mouthwatering juicy smoked turkey that will have your guests raving. Hey Grill Hey’s got your back with a comprehensive guide to smoking the perfect turkey, ensuring it’s the star of the show.

Why Smoke a Turkey?

Smoking a turkey isn’t just a trendy culinary technique; it’s a game-changer for flavor and texture. The low, slow cooking process infuses the meat with a rich, smoky aroma while keeping it incredibly moist and tender.

Choosing the Right Turkey:

  • Size matters: Opt for a fresh turkey weighing 15 pounds or less for optimal cooking and food safety. For larger gatherings, consider multiple smaller birds instead of one behemoth. This ensures even cooking and prevents the dreaded dry breast.
  • Brining is your friend: Brining helps lock in moisture and adds a subtle savory flavor. If using a pre-brined turkey, skip this step. Otherwise, explore Hey Grill Hey’s Apple Spice Smoked Turkey Brine for a Thanksgiving-worthy flavor boost.

Gearing Up for Success:

  • Fuel and wood: Ensure you have enough propane, gas, pellets, or wood to last throughout the smoking process. Apple, cherry, or hickory wood chips are excellent choices for imparting a light, delicious smokiness without overpowering the turkey’s natural flavor.
  • Thermometer is key: An instant-read or remote meat thermometer is your best friend. Use it to monitor the temperature of various parts of the turkey, ensuring it reaches a safe 165°F throughout.
  • Smoker selection: The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. Smoke your turkey on a pellet grill, offset smoker, electric smoker, or even a gas or charcoal grill. Choose the one you’re most comfortable with.

Let’s Get Smoking!

  1. Preheat your smoker to 225°F. Aim for indirect heat and consistent temperatures throughout the cooking process.
  2. Prep the turkey: Remove giblets and neck, rinse if brined, and pat dry. Tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips for a beautiful presentation.
  3. Seasoning magic: Coat the turkey with olive oil or melted butter. Apply a generous amount of Sweet Rub or Smoked Turkey Rub for authentic BBQ flavor and a smoky kick.
  4. Stuffing? Think again: Avoid stuffing the turkey, as it can lead to overcooked meat. Instead, add flavor with apples, onions, herbs, or citrus placed inside the cavity. Discard these after smoking.
  5. Catch those drippings: Place an aluminum pan filled with water under the turkey to catch drippings and keep the environment moist. This water will evaporate during the process, so be prepared to refill it.
  6. Smoke it low and slow: Place the turkey breast-side up on the grill, away from direct heat. Smoke for approximately 30 minutes per pound at 225°F.
  7. Rest and enjoy: Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F, remove the turkey and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Pro Tips for a Perfect Smoked Turkey:

  • Don’t overcook: Start checking the turkey’s temperature about an hour before the estimated finish time. All birds cook differently, so keep an eye on it to avoid dryness.
  • Rotate for even cooking: If using a gas or charcoal grill with uneven heat zones, rotate the turkey periodically for consistent results.
  • Crisp up the skin: If the skin isn’t crispy enough, broil the turkey in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
  • Leftover magic: Use those delicious drippings to make the best Smoked Turkey Gravy ever!

Embrace the Smoked Turkey Revolution:

This Thanksgiving, ditch the traditional oven and embrace the smoky, flavorful world of smoked turkey. With Hey Grill Hey’s expert guidance, you’ll be the hero of the holiday feast, serving a juicy, tender bird that will leave everyone wanting more.

Additional Resources:

Happy Smoking!

What spices are best for smoked turkey recipes

When I said that all you need to do is add salt, pepper, granulated onion, and garlic, I really meant it. If you want to boost the colour, you can add a bit of paprika.

Don’t skip those aromatics inside the turkey cavity! They lend serious flavour to the party.

how do you smoke a turkey without drying it out

Do I need to brine a turkey to smoke it?

My short answer is no. That said, you can certainly brine your turkey if you prefer it that way.

The longer version is that I don’t find brining to the worth the effort and mess it creates. Although some people vouch for it, I believe it adds unnecessary effort to something that is already quite tasty without it.

You can dry brine the turkey by following the directions in my post on smoked whole chicken if you want the brining effect without the mess. Just follow the instructions there, but size up in proportion to the weight of your turkey.

I know that people often brine their turkey because they’re afraid the roasting process will dry it out. The truth is that roasted turkey can often get a little dry.

how do you smoke a turkey without drying it out

AWESOME Smoked Turkey Recipe For Beginners!


How do you keep a turkey moist while smoking it?

Make sure you have a drip pan at the ready to catch the drippings as well as keep your smoker environment moist. I use an aluminum pan that I can position on the grill underneath my turkey. Fill the pan with several cups of water at the beginning of the smoke.

How do you keep your turkey from drying out when you smoke it?

Moist Interior and Crispy Exterior Using olive oil mayonnaise bastes the turkey which enhances the flavor (especially when you mix with spices) and keeps it moist on the inside. And while the turkey is naturally basting with the mayonnaise, the mayonnaise helps the skin to get crispy because of its high smoke point.

Should you wrap a turkey in foil when smoking?

If your turkey’s wings are baking too quickly, you can cover them with foil, but otherwise, there’s no need. While you’re letting it rest, you can tent your turkey in foil for about 15 minutes, but smoking it the whole time in foil is unnecessary and could lead to soggy skin.

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