Juicy, tender and deliciously smoky, this Smoked Turkey recipe is the perfect dish for any celebration, taking an old classic to a whole new level.
Smoking a turkey may take longer than roasting, but it creates a whole new flavor profile that is sure to delight your guests. Served up with all the trimmings, this beautiful bird will make your next big occasion the most memorable one yet.
Served at dinner tables across America every Thanksgiving, turkey has a rich poultry flavor that lends itself perfectly to smoking. Fresh or frozen turkey can be used for this recipe. While fresh turkey will be more expensive, they tend to have a more intense taste and firmer texture than those that have been frozen.
If you do use frozen turkey, just bear in mind that defrosting such a large piece of meat will take quite some time, so factor that into your prep.
For food safety reasons, the turkey you choose for this recipe should be around 15 lbs. or less. This helps avoid it being in the temperature ‘danger zone’ for too long while it is in the smoker.
Defrost the turkey by placing it in the refrigerator in its original packaging, leave it in there for 24 hours per every five pounds of turkey.
You can speed things up by submerging it (again in its original packaging) in cold water, refreshing the water every 20 minutes or so. More information listed below.
You can use any kind of grill or smoker to make a delicious Smoked Turkey as long as it can provide indirect heat and maintain a consistent cooking temperature (and your bird can fit inside!)
No two turkeys at the store will weigh exactly the same, so it’s not always easy to know how much cooking time you need. A good rule of thumb for Smoked Turkey is to allow 30 minutes in the smoker per pound (when cooked at 270 degrees F).
However, it’s always a good idea to start checking your turkey around an hour before you expect it to be cooked. Different turkeys can always cook at slightly different speeds, particularly in a smoker, and checking it early on will help avoid it overcooking and drying out.
Because the rub on the outside will caramelize in the heat, the skin of this Smoked Turkey will become quite dark, so it’s hard to tell just by looking whether your meat is done.
The best way to check for doneness is to take the internal temperature of the turkey with a meat thermometer.
Insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (making sure not to touch the bone), and then repeat on the other side. It’s important to check both sides of the turkey when using a smoker as the heat may not be evenly distributed.
As long as your meat has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, then it is perfectly safe to eat. See below for more roasting suggestions.
RUB VS. BRINING – WET OR DRY
You can still smoke the turkey if you choose the brine the turkey. The brining method is where the turkey is placed in a stockpot filled with salted water and the aromatics of garlic, herbs, peppercorns, and various ingredients of choice for a couple of hours or days.
This method is used to also help keep the meat or turkey very moist while it smokes.
Dry brining is just about the opposite of the wet method. Although the results are the same in regard to flavors and moisture, the method used in the dry rub method omits submerging the meat in water.
The dry rub method, as in this recipe is the smoked seasoning rub, is used when the dry seasoning is applied to the meat and allow it to marinate from 30 minutes to over 48 hours.
Both methods are really a personal choice. We use either or depending on which way the wind blows when we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
HOW TO THAW A TURKEY?
|Turkey Size:||In Refrigerator:||In Cold Water:|
|10 to 18 Lbs.||3 to 4 days||5 to 9 hours|
|18 to 22 Lbs.||4 to 5 days||9 to 11 hours|
|22 to 24 Lbs.||5 to 6 days||11 to 12 hours|
|24 to 30 Lbs.||6 to 7 days||12 to 15 hours|
Thawing a turkey take time and patience. A frozen turkey is a daunting block of ice that takes days to thaw.
There are two ways you can thaw your turkey:
METHOD 1: THAWING THE TURKEY IN THE FRIDGE
Thawing the turkey in the fridge is a long but safe process.
- It will take a frozen 3–4-pound turkey between 30-34 hours to thaw.
- It can take up to 3 days for an 11 lb. turkey to thaw out.
- As well as it can take a 15 -20-pound turkey up to 5 days to thaw out in the fridge.
METHOD 2: THAW TURKEY IN THE SINK
This is the fastest way to thaw the turkey. However, for safety reasons we prefer method 1. That way, if you are unable to cook the turkey right away after it has been thawed out, you do not risk the meat going bad and or becoming sick from mishandling the meat.
To thaw the meat in the sink you can allow the meat to thaw out for a few hours in an empty sink (depending on the size).
Or fill the sink with water, place the meat in a leak proof bag and submerge the turkey in the water.
It is best to drain the water and refill every 30-minutes and rotating the meat or turkey until it has been completely thawed out.
COOK TIMES FOR TURKEY IN THE OVEN
Although this recipe calls for smoked turkey, If you do not have a smoker but would love to try this turkey in the oven, we’ve got you covered. If you are wondering how long to cook turkey in the oven, here are some suggested times:
|10 to 18 Lbs.||3 to 3 ½ Hours||3 ¾ to 4 ½ Hours|
|18 to 22 Lbs.||3 to 4 Hours||4 ½ to 5 hours|
|22 to 24 Lbs.||4 to 4 ½ Hours||5 to 5 ½ hours|
|24 to 30 Lbs.||4 ½ to 5 Hours||5 ½ to 6 ¼ Hours|
HOW TO STORE
For storing the leftover Smoked Turkey, you can simply wrap it in aluminum foil, and it will stay fresh for four to five days when stored in the refrigerator.
However, it’s not suggested to freeze the Smoked turkey because it won’t remain tender, and the crispy skin will be gone as well!
MORE HOLIDAY RECIPES TO ENJOY
This Smoked Turkey pairs well with the following recipes listed below.
MORE TURKEY RECIPES TO ENJOY
Also, we would appreciate if could give it a star rating below!
HAITIAN RECIPES TO TRY WITH THIS DISH
If you loved this Smoked Turkey recipe, we recommend trying one of these Haitian recipes next.
Also, we would appreciate if could give it a star rating below!
Juicy Tender Smoked Turkey
- 15 Lb. Turkey; Washed And Cleaned
- 1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp. Cajun Seasoning
- 2 Tbsp. Paprika
- 2 Tbsp. Cumin
- 2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper; Optional
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Herbs Of Choice; Enough To Stuff
- 2 Lemon Cut In Half To Stuff
- Wash and pat dry the turkey as directed here in our how to clean a turkey post. Pat dry and set aside.Next, in a separate bowl, add in the salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (optional). Mix well to combine.Rub the olive oil all over the meat, then apply the seasoning blend all over the meat including in the cavity of the turkey.
- Next, apply the herbs and squeeze the lemon juice in the cavity of the turkey, then add the lemon halves to stuff.Prepare the smoker to bring the temperature between 270-300° F.Place the turkey in the smoking rack and cook for 10 hours or until the temperature reaches 165° F.