How to Smoke Turkey for Thanksgiving  cover

How to Smoke Turkey for Thanksgiving

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I've read all the various ways of preparing a smoked turkey -- whether to wet-brine, dry-brine, no-brine, inject, etc. Since this was my first time, I decided to try a little bit of everything.





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How to Smoke Turkey for Thanksgiving

Lessons Learned

There's nothing better than spending time with friends, family, and a 12-lb smoked turkey.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had been looking forward to making smoked turkey for the first time. With leftovers neatly packed in tupperware, I can still smell the slight whiff of apple wood smoke. So was my first attempt at smoked turkey a success? How did it taste? What would I do differently?

Turkey Brined for 12 Hours

Turkey Brined for 12 Hours

I've read all the various ways of preparing a smoked turkey -- whether to wet-brine, dry-brine, no-brine, inject, etc. Since this was my first time, I decided to try a little bit of everything.

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

I submerged the turkey into a brining solution with some:

- Apple juice

- Brown sugar

- Kosher salt

- Honey

- Oranges

- Peppercorns

- Garlic

- Bay leaves

The Rub Down

Since I read that brining can cause the turkey to taste a bit "mushy," not to mention take away some of that meaty flavor, I decided to just brine the turkey for about 12-15 hours.

I patted the turkey nice and dry, then gave it a good massage of olive oil and seasoning rubdown which included the following:

- Seasoned salt

- Black pepper

- Garlic powder

- Paprika

- Cayenne

Secret Ingredient

For good measure, I also injected the turkey with the star ingredient -- Corona beer!

- 1 bottle of Corona

- Melted butter

- Paprika

- Cayenne

After 3 Hours

After 3 Hours

After 3 hours of smoking the turkey in the WSM (with 2 fist-sized apple wood chunks), the turkey came out with a nice, mahogany colored skin crust. When I measured the temperature of the breast, it was around 170-175 degrees F. Since I was targeting the magic number of around 160-165, I was afraid the breast meat would be too dry. Next time, I will need to check the temperature a bit earlier (I got caught up finishing the side dishes!).

Time to Rest

After letting the turkey rest for about a half hour, I sliced the turkey wide open.

The breast was still reasonably moist. The slight hint of smoke was perfect -- not overpowering at all. The dark meat was full of flavor too. I used the pan drippings to make the gravy and it was the perfect compliment to the turkey. For my first time smoking turkey, I thought everything tasted great.

Room for Seconds

Room for Seconds

Room for Improvement

The one thing I noticed (and knew from the start) was that the skin wasn't as extra crispy (compared to an oven cooked turkey)--which was a result of the lower smoking temperature.

From the start, I tried to maintain a temperature in the WSM of at least around 325-350 for all 3 hours, but it was a challenge. I would say the average temperature was more like around 300. Other than that, I thought my first time smoking a turkey was a success. I'll be smoking turkey more often in future years, and hope to get better.

Dirty Smoke BBQ Blog

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