It’s that time of year again, time to cook a turkey! Instead of going the “traditional” route and cooking the turkey in the oven, this year I decided to do things a little differently and smoke a turkey instead! I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of turkey to begin with so I thought smoking it might make it more flavorful and also be a fun new way to cook it this year!
For this cook, I’m using the Mad Max Smoked Turkey method (with a few adjustments).
Tips for Smoking a Turkey
I’ll be brining the turkey for 24 hours because in my personal opinion, having had it both brined and not brined, I think it results in a much more moist bird and also gives you some wiggle room if you overcook it a little bit.
Tools for Smoking a Turkey
Having the right tools makes it so much easier to cook a turkey well so here’s a list of tools that I find helpful when smoking a turkey.
ThermoWorks Smoke 2 Channel Temperature Probe | Great for measuring the temp of the bird & the pit with an alarm
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 | I like to use this to get an instant read on all parts of the bird which makes it easy to know if the thigh and breast is done
Turkey Brining Container | An easy way to store your turkey while you brine it. I like to use these Cambro containers much more than bags since they’re more sturdy!
Turkey Brine | A pre-made brine makes things easy and helps keep you
BBQ Gloves | I like using these loading and unloading from the grill
Metal Sheet Pan with Roasting Tray |
An easy to follow guide on smoking a whole turkey.
- 10-15 lb turkey
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 lemon
- 1 yellow onion cut in half
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 apple
- a few carrots
- a few sticks of celery
- 1 bottle white wine
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp herbs de provence (or something similar)
- 1/2 cup flour
- turkey neck, giblets, liver, etc. from bird
- white wine (from above) optional
- 1 yellow onion halved
- few sticks of celery chopped
- few sticks of carrots chopped
- 1 gallon sized plastic bag like ziploc
For the Turkey
Start by brining the turkey 48 hours before you're going to cook it for 12-24 hours (unless you're going to immediately cook after brining, then start it 12-24 hours before).
Once the turkey has been brined, clean out the turkey and set aside the neck, heart, giblets, etc. to the side for the gravy later (if making).
Pat the turkey dry and then this is optional, but I think it results in the crispiest skin: set it on top of a baking sheet lined iwth foil with a wire rack on top. Then put it in the fridge uncovered overnight until you take it out to cook the next day.
Take the turkey out of the fridge 30 minutees prior to cooking.
Heat up your Big Green Egg or smoker of choice to 325-350 degrees.
Season the inside of the turkey cavity with seasoning of choice (I like to use a poultry blend, herbs de provence or Hardcore Carnivore Red). Then stuff the inside of the turkey with the halved apple, carrots, onion, lemon, and a few sticks of rosemary, sage, thyme or whatever herbs you're using.
Make turkey herb butter: let 1 stick of butter sit at room temp and then mix in herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. Once made, rub this all over the turkey (try to get some under the skin too).
Place turkey elevated in a roasting pan (with a rack or a trivet) breast side up.
Before cooking the turkey, fill your gallon bag with water and ice and place on the turkey breasts for about 20 minutes. This will help cool down the breasts to help ensure that the turkey breasts and thighs will be cooked at the same time. Remove bag of ice right before putting turkey on the smoker.
Close lid on your smoker and let cook, you can baste it in drippings every 30 minutes or so but don't do it until after it's been cooking for an hour.
If you notice the turkey skin starting to get a little too dark in any spots, top this with foil to prevent it from burning.
Pull the turkey when breast and thigh register at 165 degrees.
Carefully tilt the turkey to remove juices into the roasting pan and then move it to a cutting board and rest it for at least 30 minutes prior to carving. You can tent it lightly with foil to keep it warm (but don't completely wrap in foil or you'll lose your crispy skin).
For the Gravy
Put the turkey neck, heart, giblets, etc. into a large pot with seasonings (like herbs de provence or similar), add in halved onion, chopped carrots, celery and then cover with water and let simmer all day while your turkey is cooking.
Take turkey roasting pan with juices and put in a bowl or measuring cup. Allow to sit for a few minutes so that the fat and drippings separate. Ladle away the fat.
Place a pan over burner and add butter. Add flour to butter and whisk continuously until a "paste" (roux) is formed. You want this to be relatively smooth so that you don't get lumps.
Once the paste has formed, add in wine and keep whisking continuously to keep the gravy smooth. It's okay if it starts bubbling but just make sure you keep whisking so it doesn't burn.
Allow the roux to reduce and then start adding in liquid from your turkey drippings. Keep whisking continusouly. Then add in some of the stock you had been simmering all day (the one with the turkey neck, giblets, etc.)
Bring pan to a boil. Continue adding turkey stock until you've reached desired thickness of gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add in some herbs de provence (or similar).
(Optional but flavorful) Remove turkey neck, giblets, heart, etc. and remove meat from neck then chop everything up really small and add it back to the gravy.
If your gravy is too thick, add more stock. If it's too thin, you can add a little more flour.