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Smoked Turkey (Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey)

Published on 11/04/2023 by Umamiology
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This Smoked Turkey is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner spread. Juicy, tender with that warm smokey essence – it’ll make for a holiday dinner your friends and family won’t soon forget.

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Traditional oven-baked Thanksgiving Turkey? No thanks. Spice up your holiday gathering by adding this smokey and savory twist to the classic Thanksgiving dinner.

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With this Smoked Turkey recipe, you’ll leave your friends and family with an unforgettable and delectable meal that will stand out from all the other traditional holiday parties of the past.

The Ingredients for Smoked Turkey

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The Equipment Needed

Crafting The Brine

In a large pot, combine all of the brine ingredients.

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Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, so that all of the salt and sugar dissolves, then turn off heat and set aside to completely cool.

Prepping And Brining The Turkey

Defrost your turkey completely before prepping.

Pro Tip: Plan ahead! If you buy a frozen turkey, it can take up to 4 days to defrost safely in the fridge. Make sure you account for this defrost time.

Once you have your defrosted turkey, remove the giblet packet, the neck and the plastic truss ring from the body cavity. You can set the neck and giblet aside, to use as the base for a turkey stock, if you’d like.

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Then open up your brine bag and place your turkey inside and take the large pieces from the brine (apple sections, onion segments, herbs, etc) and stuff the inside cavity of the turkey.

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Then carefully pour the brine solution into the bag as well and then squeeze out all of the air, before tying the bag closed. Most, if not all of the turkey, should be submerged in the brining liquid. Place your brine bag in the fridge overnight or at least 6 hours.

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Once the turkey is fully brined, remove from the bag of liquid, set it on your cutting board, and then pat dry with a paper towel.

Spatchcocking The Turkey

Place the turkey breast-side down on the cutting board, to expose the backbone.

Then using strong poultry sheers, cut along both sides of the back bone until you can remove the bone completely. (You can add this to the giblet and neck to make a turkey stock.)

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Then flip the turkey over and apply a firm press downward to flatten it out. (You should hear a slight crack as the breastbone fractures to accommodate the new flat position.)

Seasoning both sides of the turkey with the Jack Daniel’s Spice Rub is the next step. Be generous here to make sure you are coating every part of the bird evenly.

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Buttering Under The Skin (optional)

At this point, you can also butter under the skin of the turkey. Starting from the neck side, take you hands and gently push it under the skin of the turkey, separating the skin layer from the breast. This is where you’d want to apply a generous helping of Garlic Compound Butter to provide additional flavoring and keep the meat moist during smoking. Make sure you rub/spread the butter all over the breast meat evenly.

Crafting The Glaze

The glaze for this turkey recipe is really simple.

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Combine all of the turkey glaze ingredients and incorporate them in a glass bowl. (Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Honey, Worcestershire Sauce, Jack Daniel’s Spice Rub.)

Set aside until you are ready to glaze the turkey.

Smoking The Turkey

Fire up your smoker grill to 275°F – and place your turkey in the center of the grill.

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Place an internal meat thermometer into the deepest part of the turkey breast to make sure you’ll get an accurate temperature reading.

Then close the lid and let the smoker do its work.

Pro Tip: Spritz the turkey with apple juice every hour, until the internal meat thermometer hits 140°F. Then, every 30 minutes, lightly baste the turkey with the glaze (less is more in this case) until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

As a rule of thumb, you should estimate about 15-20 minutes for every pound of turkey you are smoking. So, in this case, a 12 lbs. turkey could smoke anywhere between 3-4 hours.

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When the turkey hits an internal temperature of 160°F – the smoking is done and you are ready to pull it off the grill.

Putting It All Together

Once you pull your turkey off of the grill, let it rest for about 15 minutes before you carve into it.

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Slice, serve and enjoy!

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Smoked Turkey (Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey)

5 from 12 votes
This Smoked Turkey is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner spread. Juicy, tender with that warm smokey essence – it'll make for a holiday dinner your friends and family won't soon forget.
Author: Umamiology
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 20 minutes
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Ingredients 

Smoked Turkey

Turkey Brine

Turkey Glaze

Instructions 

Crafting The Brine

  • In a large pot, combine all of the brine ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, so that all of the salt and sugar dissolves, then turn off heat and set aside to completely cool.

Prepping And Brining The Turkey

  • Defrost your turkey completely before prepping.
  • Pro Tip: Plan ahead! If you buy a frozen turkey, it can take up to 4 days to defrost safely in the fridge. Make sure you account for this defrost time.
  • Once you have your defrosted turkey, remove the giblet packet, the neck and the plastic truss ring from the body cavity. You can set the neck and giblet aside, to use as the base for a turkey stock, if you'd like.
  • Then open up your brine bag and place your turkey inside and take the large pieces from the brine (apple sections, onion segments, herbs, etc) and stuff the inside cavity of the turkey.
  • Then carefully pour the brine solution into the bag as well and then squeeze out all of the air, before tying the bag closed. Most, if not all of the turkey, should be submerged in the brining liquid. Place your brine bag in the fridge overnight or at least 6 hours.
  • Once the turkey is fully brined, remove from the bag of liquid, set it on your cutting board, and then pat dry with a paper towel.

Spatchcocking The Turkey

  • Place the turkey breast-side down on the cutting board, to expose the backbone.
  • Then using strong poultry sheers, cut along both sides of the back bone until you can remove the bone completely. (You can add this to the giblet and neck to make a turkey stock.)
  • Then flip the turkey over and apply a firm press downward to flatten it out. (You should hear a slight crack as the breastbone fractures to accommodate the new flat position.)
  • Seasoning both sides of the turkey with the Jack Daniel's Spice Rub is the next step. Be generous here to make sure you are coating every part of the bird evenly.

Buttering Under The Skin (optional)

  • At this point, you can also butter under the skin of the turkey. Starting from the neck side, take you hands and gently push it under the skin of the turkey, separating the skin layer from the breast. This is where you'd want to apply a generous helping of Garlic Compound Butter to provide additional flavoring and keep the meat moist during smoking. Make sure you rub/spread the butter all over the breast meat evenly.

Crafting The Glaze

  • The glaze for this turkey recipe is really simple.
  • Combine all of the turkey glaze ingredients and incorporate them in a glass bowl. (Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Honey, Worcestershire Sauce, Jack Daniel's Spice Rub.)
  • Set aside until you are ready to glaze the turkey.

Smoking The Turkey

  • Fire up your smoker grill to 275°F – and place your turkey in the center of the grill.
  • Place an internal meat thermometer into the deepest part of the turkey breast to make sure you'll get an accurate temperature reading.
  • Then close the lid and let the smoker do its work.
  • Pro Tip: Spritz the turkey with apple juice every hour, until the internal meat thermometer hits 140°F. Then, every 30 minutes, lightly baste the turkey with the glaze (less is more in this case) until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
    As a rule of thumb, you should estimate about 15-20 minutes for every pound of turkey you are smoking. So, in this case, a 12 lbs. turkey could smoke anywhere between 3-4 hours.
  • When the turkey hits an internal temperature of 160°F – the smoking is done and you are ready to pull it off the grill.

Putting It All Together

  • Once you pull your turkey off of the grill, let it rest for about 15 minutes before you carve into it.
  • Slice, serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 1092kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 130gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 446mgSodium: 16677mgPotassium: 2203mgFiber: 3gSugar: 45gVitamin A: 207IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 200mgIron: 11mg

*Nutritional information is just an estimate derived by an online calculation tool.

FAQ

How long does it take to smoke a turkey?

There are many differing perspectives online on how long and at what temperature to smoke your turkey. I’ve found that smoking at 275°F is the right setting to ensure you get enough heat so that the turkey is not sitting too long at unsafe temperatures. At 275°F, your turkey should typically reach the proper internal cook temperature within 3-4 hours – and still be moist and juicy.

Why do you spatchcock a turkey?

Spatchcocking (or butterflying) your turkey is the technique of removing the backbone of the bird and flattening it so that it cooks faster and more evenly. It helps the dark meat areas of the turkey to get more heat exposure and accelerates overall cooking time.

What is the “danger zone” for smoking turkey?

According to the USDA Food Safety Website, the “Danger Zone” is a range of temperature between 40 and 140 °F in poultry, where harmful bacteria can multiply. It’s best not to have your turkey sit in the danger zone for too long.

How long can I keep left over turkey?

Turkey left overs can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. After that, promptly freeze or discard.

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