This smoker recipe for turkey is tasty, moist, tender and wonderfully flavoured with hickory smoke.
Turkey is a fantastic meat to smoke at anytime of the year, and should definitely not just be confined to holiday times!
- Equipment Required For Smoking Turkey
- Smoked Turkey Rub
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 1 – Source Your Turkey
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 2 – Brine Turkey Overnight
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 3 – Prepare the Bird
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 4 – Smoke the Turkey
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 5 – Rest the Turkey
- Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 6 – Slice and Serve
- FAQ’s about Smoking Turkey
Equipment Required For Smoking Turkey
- Water Pan or Disposable Aluminium Pan
- Syringe for Turkey Injection
- Coolbox If Brining
- Spray Bottle for Spritzing or Brush for Basting
- Wood for Smoking – either chunks, pellets or wood chips – we prefer hickory wood but you can use apple. maple, pecan, cherry or mesquite which has a strong smoke taste.
- Digital Thermometer to Check Internal Temperature
Smoked Turkey Rub
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of finely ground salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of chilli powder (leave this out if you don’t like heat or you are cooking for kids)
Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 1 – Source Your Turkey
It goes almost without saying that your turkey should be organic and free range. Not only will this make for a better meal and all round taste, it’s only fair for the bird and the environment.
The best way to ensure the you get the best quality of meat is to go to your local butcher, and avoid the supermarket. You can ask your butcher about where the turkey has been sourced from and whether it was free range.
Most people prefer to have the giblets removed, but you can keep them to make gravy or turkey stock with them if you wish.
You can also ask your butcher to remove any excess fat, or even spatchcock the turkey for you.
Spatchcocking your turkey is optional, but it does have the benefit of reducing overall cooking time. If you want to find out more about spatchcocking a turkey you could try here:
This recipe doesn’t need a spatchcocked bird because we want to keep it whole so we can fill the cavity with fruit, veg, and herbs.
If possible, you should also make sure that the turkey is fresh and hasn’t been recently frozen. A bird of this size could take 2-3 days to thaw out in the fridge, and it would be risky to leave poultry at room temperature to thaw for a long period of time.
Brining your turkey helps to infuse flavour and moisture into the meat in advance of smoking.
It’s a simple process which involves leaving your turkey in a solution of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 3/4 cup of salt.
There should be just enough water to cover the turkey, so be careful not to add too much.
If you have difficulty getting a container big enough for your turkey, you could use a coolbox.
To avoid making too much mess put your whole turkey inside a large foodbag and add enough water to cover it, along with 3/4 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar.
We like to add 3-4 whole peeled garlic cloves and bunch of fresh thyme to the brine, but this isn’t strictly necessary.
Seal the foodbag and place it inside the coolbox, along with a bag of ice to simulate a fridge.
Leave to brine overnight.
Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 3 – Prepare the Bird
When you are ready to cook and prepare your turkey, take it out of the fridge, remove it from the brine and let it sit at room temperature for around 30 minutes.
This will reduce smoking time as putting cold meat in the smoker will obviously make it harder to get your smoker up to temperature.
Discard the brine, and rinse the turkey in cold water to remove any leftover brine.
Pat the turkey dry with kitchen roll, and then brush it all over with olive oil or butter to give the rub something to stick to. You could also use Dijon mustard if preferred.
Now combine all the ingredients for the dry rub in a bowl and mix well.
Coat the whole turkey liberally with the rub. Make sure you get the rub under the wings and also into the meat underneath the skin.
If you want to use an injection you can do so here. It can definitely add flavour and keep the turkey moist, but it’s also fine to leave this step out.
Add a mixture of 1/2 cup chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of butter, salt, pepper, and half a teaspoon of garlic powder to a pan.
Stir on a medium heat until the butter has melted.
Take your syringe and load it with the butter solution.
Inject the breast of the turkey at various different points all over. You will need to do this carefully and slowly.
Allow for 1-2 teaspoons for each injection point.
If you see any of the liquid flowing out, stop injecting and move to a different part of the bird.
Keep some of the butter solution to spray or brush the turkey with during the smoke.
Cut two apples in half and place inside the cavity along with a bunch of thyme, a handful of whole black peppercorns, a whole peeled onion, and a stick of celery.
Tie the legs together with twine so they don’t burn.
Now you’re ready to smoke the turkey!
Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 4 – Smoke the Turkey
Get your smoker up to 225°F.
Add the wood of your choice. Turkey pairs well with mild and fruity woods like cherry or apple, but we like the strong flavours of hickory wood. After all, we have already stuffed the turkey with apple.
When your BBQ Smoker is up to 225°F (or 107°C) place the turkey onto the grills away from direct heat and open flames.
We want the turkey to cook low and slow in the smoke and not burn over open flames.
Place a water pan or disposable aluminium pan filled with 1 inch water in the smoker, and close the lid.
Depending on what smoker you are using you may need to refuel every hour or so. When you do you can spritz it or brush it with your leftover injection solution.
Assuming your bird is 10 pounds, this smoke will take around 5 hours – 30mins per pound of turkey meat.
If it’s considerably bigger, say 15 pounds, it will take around 7 1/2 hours in the smoker.
Remember you will be checking the internal temperature and using it as your guide, not exact timings which are different every time you smoke.
Around halfway through the cooking time rotate the whole turkey around 180° so that it cooks evenly in the smoker.
Again, if you are smoking a 10 pound bird this will be roughly 2 1/2 hours into the smoke. Adjust the time accordingly depending on the size of your turkey.
Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the leg and at the thickest point of the breast. Use the lowest temperature as your guide.
If it isn’t up to 165°F just yet, put it back in the smoker for another while and then check it again. Once you are happy the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165°F you can take it off the grills to rest in foil.
Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 5 – Rest the Turkey
This is a crucial step in smoking or cooking any meat, but one that is tempting to skip.
Resting the meat allows the juices to evenly redistribute themselves across the tissues.
Rest the turkey in foil for a least 30 minutes, while you prepare your side dishes.
Smoker Recipe For Turkey Step 6 – Slice and Serve
Using a sharp knife, slice your turkey against the grain into thin pieces around 1/4 inch thick.
Serve your smoked turkey with all the trimmings; mashed potato, roast potatoes, gravy, steamed carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and let’s not forget the cranberry sauce.
FAQ’s about Smoking Turkey
How Do You Keep a Turkey Moist While Smoking?
Add a waterpan to the smoker filled with about 1 inch of water, to keep the smoking environment and the turkey moist. You should also spray or brush your turkey with oil or butter around every hour or so. This will also help crisp up the skin.
How Long Per Pound Do You Smoke a Turkey?
Smoke your turkey for around 30-40 minutes per pound. An 8 pound turkey takes around 4 hours in the smoker while a 14 pound turkey will take around 7 hours.
It’s more important to cook to internal temperature which should be 165°F.
How Much Turkey Meat Per Person?
When serving smoked meat a good rule of thumb is around 1 pound of meat per person, depending on your side dishes and appetites.
If you enjoyed this ‘Smoker Recipe For Turkey,’ you could try out our article on ‘Chicken in the Smoker.’
Or you could also try, ‘Smoker Recipes For Chicken.’
For another great article on ‘Smoker Recipe For Turkey,’ try here: