BEST SMOKED THANKSGIVING TURKEY RECIPE

Thanksgiving is the time to relax, eat and spend a lot of time with family. At this time, we all use smoked turkey to represent comfort food, joy in life, and gratitude.

Smoked turkey is a must for anyone who loves the smoked flavor. If you’re searching for the best smoked Thanksgiving turkey recipe, welcome to the house of experts, smokerssnicket.

Reserved for special occasions and holidays, a smoked turkey is not something that’s eaten very often. However, when we get a chance to eat one, it always feels like an extra treat. The juicy meat from a smoked turkey takes on all the smoky flavors from the smoking process, making it even more delicious than an ordinary roast bird.

If you want to impress your guests this year with a fabulous smoked Thanksgiving bird, read on for our tips and tricks on how you can do just that!

Thanksgiving Smoked Turkey

How do you give your turkey dinner that special something? Smoke it! The smoke from a fire adds an incredible flavor to your meat. So, this Thanksgiving, don’t just roast or boil your turkey. Instead, try smoking it in a smoker.

Pre-requisites of Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving

Equip yourself with the following items which you are going to need during the cooking process:

THANKSGIVING TURKEY RECIPE

Turkey

If you have a large group gathering for Thanksgiving dinner, I recommend getting 2-3 smaller birds instead of one large one. For starters, smaller turkeys are easier to store. Second, smaller birds are typically less expensive per pound. Third, smaller birds are more likely to fit in your oven and cook evenly. And finally, they’re easier to carve and serve.

On the other hand, I have got you covered if you want to grill turkey breast other than the whole smoked turkey (for some other occasion)! I advise you to check my easy smoked turkey breast recipe, as it is far easier and safer to cook!

Smoker

For a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner, keep your smoker hot and ready. No matter what kind of smoker you have, it can be a propane smoker, charcoal smoker, or electric smoker, you can make a smoked turkey at home. The critical thing is establishing indirect heat, keeping temperatures consistent, and adding wood smoke.

I like to rely on my Pit Boss Grills 77550 pellet smoker for smoked turkey because it maintains the smoke and temperatures.

Woods

You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of propane, pellets, or gas for this one because running out mid-Smoker will mean no delicious smoked turkeys!

I recommend using hickory wood or apple wood chips for their light smokiness that won’t overpower the bird while giving it enough BBQ smoke to hold your attention at dinner time! Cherry is also a good option.

Meat Probe Thermometer

When you’re smoking a turkey, the temperature is vital. The best way to monitor it? An instant-read meat thermometer or remote meat thermometer!

Meat Probe Thermometer

To ensure a safe and delicious Thanksgiving, you’ll need to pay attention during cooking time. Make sure your oven reads correctly and keeps track of how hot it gets inside so that you don’t spoil your event due to a burnt-out turkey instead of a smoked turkey.

Brine And Seasoning

After you’ve acquired your turkey and other tools, let’s talk about brining and preparing the bird for smoking.

BRINING

You can use a pre-brined, store-bought turkey or make your own Apple Spice Smoked Turkey Brine recipe. It’s sweet with just the right blend of spices that will bring out its natural flavors and make it taste even better!

SEASONING

Turkey tastes even better when it’s seasoned just right. You can either use Sweet Rubs for those who love a little extra sweetness or smoked turkey riffs that will make your guests swoon.

Side note: if you experience darker bird skin during cooking, don’t panic! It has not been burnt, but the sugar in the Sweet Rub will be the reason which caramelizes the skin, and ultimately it gets darker.

How to Prepare Thanksgiving turkey for smoker?

My strong suggestion: prepare turkey before smoking. DON NOT COOK FROZEN TURKEY! There are multiple reasons why it is not safe for your health, plus unthawed turkey takes too long on a smoker.

How to Prepare Thanksgiving turkey for smoker?

If you plan to brine it, give a day for this purpose.

THAW THE TURKEY

To ensure that your turkey is safe and delicious, it’s essential to plan. Place the bird in a refrigerator with enough time before Thanksgiving so you can safely thaw it out!

For 15 pound turkey, it usually takes 2-5 days to get properly thawed. So, plan according to the size of your turkey.

REMOVE THE INWARDS AND WASH

When your turkey is fully defrosted, remove the neck and giblets from the inside cavity. If you’ve bought one brined but not frozen beforehand, be careful when rinsing because things can get real messy fast if they’re still wet. Next is to make sure to rinse off the bird’s exterior with cold water before cooking or risk having a salt-caked mess on hand afterward!

DRY AND TIE FOR A BEAUTIFUL PRESENTATION

Next, pat the turkey down on all sides with a paper towel. Tie its legs together and tuck those wing tips behind where you would like them to rest so they don’t burn during the cooking process! This will help create a more beautiful presentation when it is done cooking.

SEASONING

It is time to coat your bird with a flavorful, oven-bake seasoned layer of butter or olive oil. I like to use Sweet Turkey Rub on mine because it has more flavor than Smoked Butter, but that’s just me personally speaking from experience. You can use any rub for its extra boost in flavor!

If your turkey is already brined, you don’t need to do exterior seasoning anymore. Just give a coat of butter for a crispier skin.

Chef’s note: I recommend you not stuff your bird with dressing before smoking it. When the inside of its stuffing reaches a safe temperature, most turkeys are overcooked from being packed too tightly and having no air circulation within them. If you need to add apples, herbs, onions, etc., just make sure you don’t overstuff and pack tightly. Always leave a room for heat circulation.

How To Smoke Thanksgiving Turkey?

Your turkey is all good to go now! Get your smoker ready and load up with some wood.

Prepare the smoker

As the key to an excellent smoked bird, one crucial factor lies in indirect heat with consistent temperatures throughout cooking time – so don’t vary your settings!

If you’re using a gas smoker, turn on half of the burners at medium-low while turning the other ones off. Masterbuilt MB20051316 is the best in this game. Please read my full review of this model and find out how it works perfectly!

For charcoal grills, preheat coals until just ash over before adding more wood chips if needed, then set vent opener down around 25%.

Finally, when preparing pellet smokers use hardwood chunks and preheat the grill at 225 – 250 degrees F. I use Pit Boss Grills 77550 pellet smoker. The reason? Check out here.

Smoke The Turkey

When it’s finally time to cook your turkey, make sure to place the bird breast side up. If using an open flame grill with higher temperatures only occurring near one edge where food will be cooked more quickly than average – rotate during the cooking process for even browning!

Smoke The Turkey

Monitor the Temperature

Cover the grill and let it smoke for 30 minutes per pound. As a rule of thumb, your turkey should be ready when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F throughout.

For instance, 15 pound turkey takes around 7 and 1/2 hours at 225 degrees F to cook up to perfection.

If you have an automatic smoker with a temperature sensor, you can sit back and relax after setting up the temperature. If not, you need to monitor the bird; otherwise, you may face disappointment. You can use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature from time to time.

It’s done!

When the turkey is ready, remove it from the smoker and place it on the carving station to rest for 15 minutes before cutting into its thick skin. After removing excess fat using kitchen shears or an ordinary knife, slice into medium-thick slices with ease!

Important: if you have removed the turkey earlier than its cooking time, don’t worry! Wrap it immediately in a heavy-duty aluminum foil and let it rest for some time. In the meantime, you can set up your table.

Pro tip: Catch the Drippings

When your smoker is ready for business, make sure you have a drip pan ready to catch all that deliciousness and keep your environment moist. Fill up with several cups of water early on to not have any pesky flare-ups. Keep refilling the pan, so nothing goes wrong.

Use those flavorsome drippings to make the turkey gravy at the end of the session!

FAQs

How long to smoke thanksgiving turkey?

Answer: When you smoke a turkey, the type of smoker and its size will determine how long to smoke it. A 15-pound bird should be ready in about 7 hours with an instant-read thermometer inserted into its thickest part near the bone, reading at least 165 degrees F for medium-rare or 160°F if desired; more well done; remember that heat rises, so always let your creations rest before serving!

What is the best temperature to smoke a whole turkey?

Answer: For juicy texture and perfect taste, cook the whole turkey between 225-250 degrees F.

Where to buy smoked turkey for thanksgiving?

Answer: You can easily find it in any nearby store or restaurant if you feel lazy to smoke by yourself at home. But smoking at home gives a unique experience and pleasure in serving your guests.

Is thanksgiving smoked turkey breast better than the whole smoked turkey?

Answer: Both are good and tasty. You just get an edge in whole smoked turkey to fill the cavity with your favorite ingredients to add more taste to it. Plus, the cooking time varies in both procedures. Boneless turkey (turkey breast) lacks bone juice also in the meal.

Should I brine the turkey before smoking?

Answer: The best way to cook a turkey is without brining. This recipe requires very little input and gives you juicy, flavorful meat with no need for spices or sauces!

Thanksgiving smoked turkey recipe

If you’re going to smoke your next turkey, consider using this best smoked Thanksgiving turkey recipe. This recipe breaks down everything you need to know about smoking out your fowl for the holidays.

PREPARATION: 15 mins

COOKING: 7 hrs.

RESTING: 15 mins

TOTAL TIME: 7 hrs. 30 min. Approx.

TOTAL SERVINGS: 7 people

CALORIES: 700 kcal

Ingredients

  • 15 pound turkey (one, defrosted)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil/melted butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Sweet Rub (you can use any of your choices)
  • Water

Directions

  • To ensure that your turkey is safe and delicious, it’s essential to plan. Place the bird in a refrigerator with enough time before Thanksgiving so you can safely thaw it out!
  • For 15 pound turkey, it usually takes 2-5 days to get properly thawed. So, plan according to the size of your turkey.
  • When your turkey is fully defrosted, remove the neck and giblets from the inside cavity. If you’ve bought one brined but not frozen beforehand, be careful when rinsing because things can get real messy fast if they’re still wet. Next is to make sure to rinse off the bird’s exterior with cold water before cooking or risk having a salt-caked mess on hand afterward!
  • Next, pat the turkey down on all sides with a paper towel. Tie its legs together and tuck those wing tips behind where you would like them to rest so they don’t burn during the cooking process! This will help create a more beautiful presentation when it is done cooking.
  • It is time to coat your bird with a flavorful, oven-bake seasoned layer of butter or olive oil. I like to use Sweet Turkey Rub on mine because it has more flavor than Smoked Butter, but that’s just me personally speaking from experience. You can use any rub for its extra boost in flavor!
  • If your turkey is already brined, you don’t need to do exterior seasoning anymore. Just give a coat of butter for a crispier skin.
  • If you’re using a gas smoker, turn on half of the burners at medium-low while turning the other ones off. Masterbuilt MB20051316 is the best in this game.
  • For charcoal grills, preheat coals until just ash over before adding more wood chips if needed, then set vent opener down around 25%.
  • Finally, when preparing pellet smokers use hardwood chunks and preheat the grill at 225 – 250 degrees F. I use Pit Boss Grills 77550 pellet smoker.
  • When it’s finally time to cook your turkey, make sure to place the bird breast side up. If using an open flame grill with higher temperatures only occurring near one edge where food will be cooked more quickly than average – rotate during the cooking process for even browning!
  • Cover the grill and let it smoke for 30 minutes per pound. As a rule of thumb, your turkey should be ready when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F throughout.
  • For instance, a 15-pound turkey takes around 7 and 1/2 hours at 225 degrees F to cook up to perfection.
  • If you have an automatic smoker with a temperature sensor, you can sit back and relax after setting up the temperature. If not, you need to monitor the bird; otherwise, you may face disappointment. You can use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • When the turkey is ready, remove it from the smoker and place it on the carving station to rest for 15 minutes before cutting into its thick skin. After removing excess fat using kitchen shears or an ordinary knife, slice into medium-thick slices with ease!

Important: if you have removed the turkey earlier than its cooking time, don’t worry! Wrap it immediately in a heavy-duty aluminum foil and let it rest for some time. In the meantime, you can set up your table.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving smoked turkey recipe

If you’re going to smoke your next turkey, consider using this best smoked Thanksgiving turkey recipe. This recipe breaks down everything you need to know about smoking out your fowl for the holidays.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 7 hrs
Resting 15 mins
Total Time 7 hrs 30 mins
Course BBQ
Cuisine TURKEY
Servings 7 People
Calories 697 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 15  pound turkey one, defrosted
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil melted butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Sweet Rub  you can use any of your choices
  • Water

Nutrition

Calories: 697kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 100gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 331mgSodium: 524mgPotassium: 1059mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 39IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Thanksgiving turkey recipe
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