Impress your guests this Thanksgiving by giving up the oven in favor of your smoker or grill when preparing holiday bird. To get you started, here's our recipe for the perfect smoked turkey.
As with any protein you are grilling, the key to success is to pay close attention to the desired internal temperature as even a few extra degrees can mean the difference between a moist turkey and a dried out bird-shaped brick.
NOTE: Before preparing, note that this recipe calls for brining the turkey first in order to ensure maximum moistness and flavor. That said, be careful in selecting your bird as many of the big brand turkeys come pre-injected with a salt-base solution designed to keep it moist during the cooking process.
If using one of these pre-injected turkeys, it is important to skip the brining process as this will result in an overly salty main course.
12-14lb. turkey, thawed
2 gallons water
1 cup Kosher salt
¾ cup brown sugar
1.5 cup BBQ dry rub seasoning
3 tbsp. canola oil
Heat the water, Kosher salt, brown sugar, and 1 cup BBQ dry rub seasoning in a large pot over medium high heat. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the salt, brown sugar and dry rub have completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
Place turkey in a large stockpot and cover completely with the saltwater brine, weighting it down if necessary to ensure it is completely submerged. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour per pound.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well. Discard the brine and allow the turkey to air dry for approximately an hour. Prepare a chimney of charcoal and add to the smoker*. Add 3-4 chunks of your favorite smoking wood. Preheat smoker for medium low cooking, approximately 250 degrees. Rub the turkey with the canola oil and season with the remaining ½ cup of BBQ dry rub.
Place the turkey on the smoker, cover, and allow it to smoke for 4-5 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the grill, tent loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
* Editor’s note: If you do not have a smoker, prepare grill for indirect cooking, placing charcoal briquets on two sides of the grill and a disposable aluminum half pan in the center.