Smoked Whole Turkey

by Kevin on November 21, 2015 · 25 comments

Smoked Whole Turkey

My father-in-law, the same man who introduced me to smoked chicken 15 years ago, also introduced me to smoked turkey.  But not in quite the same positive way as chicken.  It was actually a nightmarish story that still lives in family lore…and scared me out of trying to smoke one myself until just a couple of years ago.

He set out to smoke a turkey for a delicious New Years Eve meal.  The whole family was excited.  He put the turkey on his Brinkman bullet smoker early in the morning, anticipating its completion in time for a tasty dinner.

Dinner came and went.  So did dessert.  Then midnight.  Then 3am.  Then the sun came up.  The turkey continued to smoke.

Smoked Whole Turkey

And smoke.

It was a 22 pound turkey.  And the poor little smoker has a hard time keeping its temperature above 200, especially on a cold December/January day.

So.  The family had turkey for New Years Day Lunch.

Smoked Whole Turkey

So the lessons here are start with a smaller bird and know your smokers capabilities.  Now, don’t be afraid.  Try this recipe out and you will enjoy the results.  There aren’t many things more enjoyable than smoked turkey.  PLUS, this frees up a ton of space in your oven, which is always a problem on Thanksgiving.  That’s huge.  So…better flavor, juicier, more oven space…win-win-win.

Smoked Whole Turkey

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes

Smoked Whole Turkey

Ingredients

  • 1 Turkey
  • For Injection
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2c applejuice
  • 1 tbs real maple syrup
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs salt
  • Combine first 4 ingredients in pot and bring to a boil. Once cooled a bit, stir in salt until dissolved.
  • For Stuffing
  • 1 onion, cut in large chunks
  • 1 lemon, cut in large chunks
  • 1 celery stalk, cut
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • a few sprigs of thyme and sage
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Stuff the cavity of the bird.
  2. Inject the breasts and legs all over - every inch or so.
  3. Rub vegetable oil all over skin - this helps give a nice golden brown color.
  4. Sprinkle salt & pepper all over.
  5. Set up grill for indirect heat or use your smoker.
  6. Smoke at 225-250 with fruit wood chips/chunks until internal temperature of breast reaches 165, thigh reaches 175. This usually takes me about 30 minutes per pound.
http://www.extraordinarybbq.com/smoked-whole-turkey/

Leave a Comment

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Jacobs November 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm

I’m making this for Thanksgiving right now. This is my second time smoking this recipe, and I’ve used it on the oven many times. Thank you for all your help! Happy Thanksgiving from a huge fan!

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Brad December 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

This will be my first year smoking a turkey. Wondering about the injection is it better to inject a bird after it has reached room temp?

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Kevin December 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

Brad – I’m not sure if it makes a big difference, but yes, I always allow all meat to come up to room temp – or at least take off the chill a bit – before injecting.

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Tony November 27, 2015 at 9:25 am

instead of injecting… Could I brine?

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Kevin December 9, 2015 at 9:28 am

Tony – absolutely. I did that with one of my birds this Thanksgiving. You can do either/or/both!

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Tony November 4, 2015 at 1:52 pm

For your whole chicken you recommended to cover the bird with bacon to prevent over browning.. Do you recommend this with the turkey?

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Kevin November 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Tony – YES! I use bacon on the breasts of the turkey all the time!

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Josh October 17, 2017 at 6:30 am

Do you put bacon on the breast from the start or once they are browned to your liking? Also do you put the turkey in a pan at some point?

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Kevin November 13, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Josh – I add that bacon once it’s the brown I like. I usually cook in pans for ease, but you don’t have to. I put on a rack in a pan the whole time I smoke.

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Nate August 28, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Hey. Have used Sugar Maple many times with this. It’s an amazing recipe. Turkey turns out so moist and Soooooooo yummy. Wicked website.

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Kevin August 31, 2015 at 10:50 am

Mmmmmm…sugar maple…EXCELLENT idea, Nate. Great tip.

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Nate December 21, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Great site. Would Sugar Maple be ok to use for the turkey?

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Kevin December 22, 2014 at 10:36 am

Nate – absolutely. Ironically I just had a conversation about maple wood yesterday during the radio show. It should provide a nice, smooth smoke for you.

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Nathan Potter November 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Ugh the waiting. .. current breast temperature 148…

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Matt Sauter November 22, 2014 at 11:45 am

My smoking started a few days before thanksgiving when our oven crapped out. I Went and bought a brinkman electric smoker. Used the recipe from the manual and determined we had to start smoking the night before. It was so cold that night I stayed up and covered the top of the smoker with some old towels to help keep the heat in. the next afternoon we had one of the best turkeys I have personally eaten and I’m gearing up again this year. That smoker is almost 20 years old and continues to smoke.pardon the pun
Matt Sauter

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Jeff November 22, 2014 at 10:41 am

Kevin – what type of wood do you recommend for smoking?

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Kevin November 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Jeff – With turkey I would definitely stick with fruit woods. I’ll be using a mix of apple and cherry for my turkey.

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Morgan November 1, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Doing a practice run before thanksgiving. Based on your turkey tips I’m doing the brine and going to do an injection- minus the salt for injection. Is that ok to brine and inject?

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Kevin November 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Morgan – definitely ok to brine and inject. I do both all the time! No such thing as too juicy!

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Broms October 15, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Incredible….. Thanks for posting this. Turned out amazing

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Lee July 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

Made this last thanksgiving. I brined and injected. Absolutely the best turkey ever! With a group of about 20 everyone agreed. Kevin (and crew) are definitely my go to people for recipes on the smoker.

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Glen September 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

How big a turkey did you use? Also, did you stuff it like in the recipe?
A bunch of recipes say never to stuff beforehand as this could lead to dangerous undercooked meat (or perhaps stuffing touching undercooked turkey?)

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Kevin September 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I think this particular turkey was around 15lbs. I’ve done several different sizes and had success with all of them. I ALWAYS stuff the turkey with aromatics – then I throw them away. I think the danger comes in eating whatever you stuff in the raw turkey. I stuff with onion, apple, lemon, herbs…then toss them. And the stuffing shouldn’t have anything to do with under-cooking the meat. Just use a probe thermometer to be safe and cook the thigh to at least 175 and you should be in great shape!

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Becky November 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hi, Can I use a brine instead of injecting the turkey? If so, what do you suggest? Thanks, Becky

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Kevin November 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

You absolutely can, Becky. Brining your bird will add a ton to the juiciness factor in the final product. You can find my turkey brine recipe here: http://www.extraordinarybbq.com/marinade-monday-turkey-brine/

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