This Smoked Turkey is fabulous anytime!! It is tender, and juicy with a wonderful smoke flavor. And the buttery smooth gravy, oh the gravy is something else!
This Smoked Turkey recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or anytime you have a special dinner planned. You know what, you don’t even need a special occasion to make this sumptuous turkey dinner.
You are never going to want to cook a turkey any other way after you get a taste of this one! It is actually pretty straightforward. You just have to do a little preplanning but the results speak for themselves!
Brining your bird
I’m going to talk a little about preparing your bird for smoking. Whenever I smoke a whole bird, doesn’t matter if it’s a turkey or a couple of chickens, I always wet brine them at least overnight or even up to 24 hours.
Basically, a wet brine is a highly concentrated mixture of saltwater. The combination of the water with the salt helps to bring out the flavors of the food that you then cook. The great thing about a brine is that you can add other flavors to the solution to enhance the flavors of your food.
The brine helps to impart those additional flavors into the meat as well. Common additions to a brine are peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic. I usually add some maple syrup to my brine too. I think that it adds a touch of sweetness and just a hint of maple flavor. You would never know it was there if I didn’t tell you. It’s just a wonderful background flavor that you get, but aren’t sure what it is exactly.
I brine for a few reasons. Firstly, when you are smoking a whole bird it takes time. Usually, I estimate 25 – 30 minutes per pound for cooking time. If you don’t wet brine your bird they can dry out, and nobody likes a dry turkey breast, am I right!?
The second reason that I like to brine my whole birds is that when you use a roasting pan or a drip pan. The juices that you collect make the most unbelievable smoky gravy you have ever tasted!
Helpful Items for This Recipe
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While this looks like a crazy amount of ingredients, keep in mind this is the ingredients list for the turkey brine, items for the turkey, and all the ingredients for the gravy.
- Kosher salt
- Maple syrup
- Fresh thyme
- Bay leaves
- Black peppercorns
- Whole turkey
- Olive oil
- Herbs de Provence
- Pan drippings
- Chicken or turkey stock
- Fresh ground pepper
How to smoke your turkey
You will need to start the process a minimum of 12 hours but up to 24 hours before you want to start smoking your turkey. The first step is to prepare your brine. In a large stockpot add the water, Kosher salt, maple syrup, thyme, bay leaves garlic, and peppercorns.
Bring the pot to a boil and cook until the salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. If I’m in a bit of a hurry I sometimes add some ice to the brine to help it cool faster. If you are planning to add ice you can reduce the amount of water you start with by a little bit.
Once it is completely cooled, you can put the turkey into the brine and refrigerate it overnight or for up to 24 hours. If your turkey is too large for the stockpot, don’t worry, there is a solution!
Take a picnic cooler and place a large, clean green plastic bag inside. Place your turkey in the bag and pour the brine over top. Tie the top of the bag and pour ice around it in the cooler to keep it cool; this will act as a refrigerator and works just as well!
When you are ready to start, you need to make sure you pat dry your turkey using a paper towel. You can smoke it in a foil roasting pan or place it directly on the grill and use a drip tray under the turkey to catch the drippings.
Into the smoker
Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 225 degrees F. Loosely stuff the turkey with some onions that have been sliced into chunks and some apple slices. You don’t want the cavity filled, just about 1/2 full. Now you are going to want to drizzle olive oil over the turkey and rub the Herbs de Provence all over it.
I will sometimes tuck the wings under the turkey as they do get very crispy. Place the turkey in the smoker breast side up. I like to use a combination of hickey wood chips and applewood when I smoke poultry. I find the combination of these two types of wood really brings out the best taste of the birds.
There is no need to baste the turkey while it is in the smoker; the brine keeps it nice and moist! You need to make sure that your smoked turkey reaches a safe internal temp of at least 165 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. I use the Thermoworks Thermapen; it works great!
Once your turkey has reached the correct temperature, remove the turkey from the smoker and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Place the turkey on a cutting board and loosely cover it with foil.
Finishing things off
While the turkey is resting, it’s time to make the gravy! Pour the drippings from the foil roasting pan or the drip tray into a gravy separator.
In a small saucepan heat butter until melted and then whisk in the flour. Once combined, continue to whisk while pouring the drippings from the gravy separator into the saucepan, stopping when you reach the grease at the top of the separator.
Continue to whisk while adding the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the sherry, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. It likely will not require too much salt as the brine was very salty, to begin with; make sure you taste as you go.
When we have a small gathering we usually plate the dinners for each of the guests. I find that to be a little more elegant. If we are entertaining a larger number of people, individual plating can be a little more difficult, so we will serve it up buffet style.
Whether it is a large or small gathering for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or anytime this smoked turkey recipe is sure to be a hit!
Pin it HERE!!
Pin it HERE!!
Maple Brine For Turkey
- 6 quarts water
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups maple syrup (use the good stuff)
- 2 fresh bunches of thyme (2 Tbsp. dry)
- 6 bay leaves
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2-3 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1-15 lb turkey
Finishing Touches For Turkey
- Apple, sliced
- Onion, peeled and sliced
- Olive oil
- Herbs de Provence
Best Ever Gravy
- Drippings from the pan (you can add water to this if the drippings are too thick, up to 3/4 cup)
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. flour (adjust flour if water was added to the drippings)
- 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 1-2 Tbsp. sherry
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients except poultry in a large stockpot. Bring to boil and cook until salt dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. (you can add a little ice to help it cool a little quicker)
- Once cool, put the poultry in the brine and refrigerate overnight. Turn once if possible.
- Prepare your smoker to a temperature of 225 degrees F.
- Remove the bird from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Loosely stuff the cavity with onion and apple slices and rub the entire bird with olive oil and Herbs de Provence.
- Place the turkey in the smoker in an aluminum roasting pan or on the grill with an aluminum drip pan underneath.
- Smoke for 7-8 hours or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F using an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove and tent with foil for 20 - 30 minutes while you make the gravy.
- Pour the drippings into a gravy separator.
For the gravy:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, and when it is bubbling whisk in flour.
- Let the flour cook for 30 - 60 seconds.
- While continuing to whisk rapidly pour in the drippings.
- Whisk in the stock and then let the gravy cook until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4-5 min.
- Stir in the sherry and season with salt and pepper.
- Usually, it doesn't need too much salt, if any, because of the brine.
- Pour into a gravy boat and serve with sliced turkey.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Cholesterol: 780mg
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.