Should I Brine a Smoked Turkey?

Prepare a turkey the best and most flavorful way possible by following this recipe for Brined Smoked Turkey.

I mean I’m cool with eating turkey on Thanksgiving and all, just as long as it’s this.

Usually, I advise deviating from the traditional Thanksgiving fare and cooking something different, like a sizable prime rib roast or tenderloin, instead of turkey. Well, if you are making this, I will give you a pass because it is that delicious.

It’s the only method, really, to prepare and consume turkey if you’re cooking a bird for the holidays. A few years ago, I decided to help out my mother-in-law by making these. After I prepared this recipe, my father-in-law asked for a show of hands to indicate whether or not he thought I should make it annually.

The short answer is yes, you should definitely brine a smoked turkey! Brining is a simple process that involves soaking the turkey in a salt-water solution for several hours or overnight. This process helps to add flavor, moisture, and tenderness to the turkey, resulting in a more delicious and enjoyable meal.

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of brining a smoked turkey:

Flavor: Brining infuses the turkey with additional flavor, making it more savory and delicious. The salt in the brine helps to break down the muscle fibers, allowing the turkey to absorb more of the seasonings and spices you use.

Moisture: Brining helps to retain moisture in the turkey, preventing it from drying out during the smoking process. This is especially important for smoked turkeys, as smoking can tend to dry out the meat.

Tenderness: Brining also helps to tenderize the turkey, making it more succulent and enjoyable to eat. The salt in the brine helps to break down the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender and flavorful turkey.

Overall, brining is a simple and effective way to improve the flavor, moisture, and tenderness of your smoked turkey. It’s a worthwhile step that will result in a more delicious and enjoyable meal for you and your guests.

Brining a Smoked Turkey: Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks for brining a smoked turkey:

  • Use a large container: You’ll need a large container to hold the turkey and the brine solution. A 5-gallon bucket or a large stockpot are good options.
  • Use cold water: The water you use for the brine should be cold. This will help to keep the turkey cold and prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Add salt and sugar: The salt and sugar in the brine will help to flavor and tenderize the turkey. You can use a variety of different salts and sugars, such as kosher salt, sea salt, brown sugar, or white sugar.
  • Add spices and herbs: You can also add spices and herbs to the brine to give the turkey additional flavor. Some good options include black peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and garlic.
  • Brine for 12-24 hours: The turkey should be brined for at least 12 hours, but you can brine it for up to 24 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey before smoking: After the turkey is brined, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with cold water before smoking it.
  • Smoke the turkey according to your recipe: Once the turkey is brined and rinsed, you can smoke it according to your favorite recipe.

Brining a smoked turkey is a simple and effective way to improve the flavor, moisture, and tenderness of your turkey. It’s a worthwhile step that will result in a more delicious and enjoyable meal for you and your guests. So next time you’re smoking a turkey, be sure to give brining a try!

How to Brine It

1. After the brine has cooled and the remaining ingredients have been added, add your trussed turkey, making sure the giblets are removed, and fully submerge it in the brine. To make sure it stays really cold, you can add a little ice. I then place a few of my plates on top to keep the turkey submerged.

2. Put it in the refrigerator; however, because the pot or bucket is quite large, you will probably need to make some space for it.

3. Brine for 24 hours. This should be plenty of time to bring out some really nice flavor, but if you’d like, you can definitely extend it to 36 or 48 hours. It’s not necessary, in my opinion.

One of the most important steps to this recipe is rinsing off the turkey once it’s done brining. Take it out of the brine and give it a thorough rinse in your sink, making sure to get into the cavity on all sides.

You want to make sure it’s seasoned, not a salt lick so take the time to do this. Next, pat it dry and let it sit for 45 minutes at room temperature before smoking it. If you place an extremely cold bird inside your smoker, it will not only prolong the cooking process but also lower the smoker’s temperature.

How Many Minutes Per Pound Does It Take to Smoke

A brined turkey will cook much faster than a non-brined turkey. Here are the basic rules of thumb for smoking:

  • Smoking at 225° – 235° at 21-23 minutes per pound
  • Smoking at 245° to 255° at 19-21 minutes per pound
  • Smoking at 265° to 275° at 17-19 minutes per pound

Additionally, this will differ slightly based on the size of your bird and your ability to maintain the smoker’s temperature.

Brined Smoked Turkey Recipe – How To Brine and Smoke A Whole Turkey


Should I brine my turkey if I’m smoking it?

By brining the turkey first, you help to moisten it up and keep it tender while it is in the smoker. It also helps to even out the cooking time of all the meat of the bird, as some parts of the turkey will cook faster than others.

Is it better to wet brine or dry brine a smoked turkey?

Wet and Dry Brines both work, because salt breaks down muscle proteins, so they won’t contract while roasting (that means less tasty juice is muscled out of the bird). Wet brines infuse turkey with added moisture, but that plumping mostly comes from water, so there’s a risk of milder tasting meat.

Should I brine and inject a smoked turkey?

For brining, injection shortens the time it takes for the brine to get into the meat and really helps with big, irregularly shaped things like a turkey or a pork butt.

Is it absolutely necessary to brine turkey?

While not a required step in cooking a turkey, brining can take your bird from good to extraordinary.

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