Over the past few years, smoking turkeys have been the preferred method of cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. The subtle smoke from the fruitwood use penetrates through the turkey and takes the taste of the turkey to the next level. I generally add a few chunks of cherry wood, but applewood works great too.
To make the perfect and moistest turkey, you really have to plan ahead and utilize the dry brine method to dry brine the turkey for about 3 days prior to cooking. The salt penetrates through the turkey meat during the process and produces the most flavorful and moistest turkey. Another important part of cooking the perfect turkey is cooking to temp, not to time. You need to smoke until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees. Pick yourself up an instant-read thermometer to help you check the temps during the cooking process.
20-pound turkey, washed and cleaned
4 tablespoons kosher salt (1 tablespoon for every 5 pounds)
4 tablespoons favorite rub, more or less to taste
1 can chicken broth
2 green bell pepper, medium chopped
2 green apples, medium chopped
3 celery stalks, medium chopped
1 red bell pepper, medium chopped
1 large yellow onion, medium chopped
1 stick of butter, melted
1 ounce fresh poultry blend herbs
4-6 ounces cherrywood for smoking
Dry Brine Turkey – Separate the skin from the flesh of the turkey and under the skin of the breasts and thighs rub salt on the flesh, focusing on the thickest part of the meat. Rub remaining kosher salt on drumsticks, wings, and a little bit on the skin. Wrap the turkey in saran wrap and refrigerate for 3 days prior to roasting the turkey.
Prepare Veggie Stuffing – Chop green bell pepper, green apples, celery, red bell pepper and put it in a medium bowl. Add fresh herbs and mix.
Prepare Turkey – Stuff turkey with veggie stuffing. Cross the turkey’s legs and tie the legs with some twine. Melt butter. Brush butter on turkey. Season generously with your favorite rub. Add remaining veggie stuffing and chicken broth to an aluminum tray.
Smoke Turkey – Smoke/BBQ turkey in a 325-degree smoker with some fruitwood until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees. Spray the turkey skin with oil spray every hour during the cooking process.
Carve Turkey – After the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove the turkey from the smoker, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.
- It’s important to use a digital thermometer, preferably an instant-read thermometer to check the turkey’s internal temperature during the cooking process.
- Spraying turkey with oil spray every hour helps keeps the skin crispy during the long cook.
- A stuffed 20 pound turkey took me about 4-5 hours to smoke. Plan accordingly.
- If the turkey gets too dark, but the internal temp did not reach 165 degrees, tint with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting darker.
- If possible, place the turkey on a rack over the aluminum tray, so the turkey drippings can drip into the pan.
- Dry brine rule for turkey is 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 5 pounds of turkey.
- If you’re roasting in the oven, begin by roasting the turkey breast-side down on a v-rack at 425 degrees in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the turkey, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees, flip the turkey breast-side up, baste the turkey every half hour, and continue roasting the turkey until the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees.