Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

November 7th, 2009 by katie

Thanksgiving dinner is always a balancing act between the turkey, the casseroles, the stuffing, and the rolls all vying for a place in the oven.  Why not relieve a bit of the stress and cook your turkey in the smoker?  This smoked turkey is delicious.  The breast meat is flavorful, the dark meat juicy, and it makes a fine turkey sandwich the next day-everything you could ask for in a Thanksgiving bird!

Honey Brined Smoked Turkey

brine 12 hours, smoke approximately 4-5 hours depending on size, adapted from Alton Brown, 2004
  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 1 lb kosher salt
  • 1 lb honey
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 bag of ice
  • 1 fresh or thawed turkey, up to 20 pounds
  • oil, for rubbing turkey skin
  1. Twelve hours before you plan to smoke the turkey, heat a gallon of water until boiling.
  2. In a large (54 quart) cooler, combine hot water and salt, stirring until salt is dissolved.
  3. Stir in honey and vegetable broth until combined.
  4. Add the ice, stir, and submerge the turkey breast side up in the brine.
  5. Cover and allow to sit 12 hours.
  6. When ready to cook, prepare smoker by bringing it to 250°F.
  7. Remove turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels.
  8. Rub or brush the turkey all over with oil.
  9. Smoke the turkey for approximately 20 minutes per pound keeping the temperature at 250°.
  10. Remove the meat when the thickest part of the breast is 160°F.
  11. Cover with foil and allow to rest one hour before carving.

Unlike most roasts, I won’t recommend saving this carcass for stock unless you have a need for smokey stock.

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Posted in Main Dish

24 Responses

  1. Steph

    Wow! Your turkey looks so good! I wish I could try a piece of your smoked turkey.

  2. sweetbird

    That is indeed one of the sexiest turkeys I’ve ever seen.

    I sooooo wish I could smoke a turkey this year.

  3. AmyAnne

    That looks so good. And I don’t like turkey. Could I rent a smoker? Haha…rent a smoker, get it? Lol.

  4. The BBQ Grail

    That is one beautiful bird. Nice job.

  5. Icy1

    I use a round weber bbq to smoke mine.Indirect heat, drip pan and kingsford briquettes an the sides (they last longer)
    Tasty and moist without brine. Tried brine but was just as moist w/o

  6. Leanna

    This looks so tasty. I am going to brine my turkey this year, and I may use this recipe here. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. LoveFeast Table

    I have always wanted to smoke a turkey…hmmmm maybe this year?

  8. inspired2cook

    This looks delicious!

  9. Rate This Recipe

    Your Turkey looks yummy. I have been surfing the internet trying to find one good turkey recipe to try for this Thanksgiving instead of the same old same old…. I’m glad I found your turkey! Am going to post a link to your blog so I can send my friends and family to your post. They would love this one.

  10. DrJuan

    I have been smoking turkey for years. Never did the brine thing but the smoke really is good for turkey. It makes the bird a true delicacy. It doesn’t have to be a heavy smoke. I often smoke for an hour or two then finish off in the kitchen oven to easily get it to the right temperature.

    Best thing about smoked turkey are the leftovers – instead of getting blah flavor with time, smoked turkey just gets gets better and better. The smoke flavor seems to develop and improve with time. A smoked turkey does not ever go to waste. People keep asking for it days latter.

  11. Brian

    Be careful brining the turkey. Make sure the turkey you bought is not pre-brined/injected. If that is already done, you will end up with an extremely salty turkey. Just thought I’d add this warning. Not everyone knows that turkeys tend to be pre-brined.

  12. SueW

    We’ve smoked for years. Best method we put the turkey on the lower rack and a couple of pork roasts above it. The pork drips on the turkey all night long — automatic basting.Brining doesn’t make much difference, but pork makes it heavenly! Probably not low calorie though. Thanksgiving is the time for wretched excess.

  13. Paul

    1 lb of salt seems like a lot for 1 gallon of water and a bag of ice. I’ve always heard the rule of thumb was 1 cup of salt for each gallon of water.

    Let me know if my math is off here. Thanks

  14. John

    Smoking two 10 lbs, how much time increse for 2 birds. mastercraft electric smoker

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  16. Andrew

    This is the second year in a row I’m using your reciepe. This turkey is amazing. I made a few small tweaks:

    1.5x the honey – I’m using fair trade honey which isn’t quite as ‘distinct’ tasting.

    Smoked over cherry and apple

    Spatcocked the turkeys for more even cooking and brining

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