Turkey Week: How to Smoke a Turkey

by Brett on November 21, 2013 · 8 Comments

in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Visual Guides

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Welcome back to Turkey Week!

In today’s video Karl shows us how to smoke a Thanksgiving turkey.

For a PDF of the cooking instructions, click here.

Check back tomorrow to learn how to deep fry a turkey. Better yet, subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you get the videos as soon as they’re published!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Will November 22, 2013 at 4:50 am

Hey, Brett: Good video. But what I’d really like to see is a video/photos of the details of Karl’s smoker. I’ve been pondering the idea of a permanent, masonry smoker, and I like how he’s got a steel top built in. I bet more guys would appreciate hearing how he built it/where he got the materials/what it cost. Thanks!

2 caleb November 22, 2013 at 6:59 am
3 Big Murth November 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

Loved the simplicity of it, nicely de-mystifying a process that any hamburger-griller can master. I would however, liked to have seen more detailed info on the prep…as he referenced the preliminary “dry-brine”—what was it, and was there any rubbing “under” the skin as well?. In this basic introductory primer, a brief overview on appropriate smoking woods would have been a worthy mention, also (hate to see a novice loading some pitchy pine or fir into the firebox!) Also, I was surprised that he didn’t make a provision to capture some of the goodness dripping off of that bird during the 3-4 hours in the smoker. I use that very same prep pan shown, and sit the bird in it, atop a V-rack which elevates the bottom of the turkey enabling smoke to move around all sides, and capture the drippings for gravy, too.
And he’s right, just about anything will do regarding the hardware required—so long as you can create an “indirect” heat source and control it for steady temps all along the way. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and Bon Apetit.

4 Michael November 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

Potentially important detail: The dry brine approach may be fine for a turkey that’s been injected/brined with liquid already like most of the supermarket birds (Butterball, etc.). But if it’s a fresh turkey and all you do is dry brine before you smoke it, it seems to me you will end up with dry bird. Since turkey is lean, you can’t rely on fat rendering to keep it naturally moist in the dry environment of a smoker (even with a water pan). it needs to be ‘juiced’.

5 Daniel Keltner November 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I smoke a turkey every year for my family…best way to go. I dry rub and stuff with aromatics, usually celery and apples. To Michael, I’ve never had a problem with fresh turkey drying out. I cook it at a low temp (usually 215-240 for me for around 11-12 hours), and I always have a juicy bird.

6 Brad November 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Good video. Here’s another one that goes into more detail:


The write-up is here:

I’ve used this method, and it’s awesome!

7 Will November 23, 2013 at 6:12 am

@Big Murth: I’ve been cooking, smoking, and barbecuing for about 7 years now. As to the idea of “dry-brining”: It’s a pretty simple idea, and produces superior flavor and skin texture, whether smoking or roasting a bird. I find it far better (and easier) than wet-brining.

Here’s the basic idea: At least a few hours (and preferably a day or so) before cooking, take your bird and some kosher salt. Loosen the skin all around (leave the drumsticks alone). Rub that kosher salt under the skin, then sprinkle it generously on top of the skin. Rub that in, too. Then put the bird on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any liquid that drips out). Put it in the fridge, uncovered, and let it rest. While it’s in the fridge, the salt will be absorbed into the meat (much as in a wet brine), and the skin will begin to dry out.

Then before you cook it, cut up a stick of butter and slide it under the skin (you can also soften the butter and mix in thyme, sage, and rosemary). The butter will moisten the meat as it cooks, and provide great flavor.

In Karl’s case, he did all that, then added a dry rub to the skin. IMO, he didn’t need the Pam spray–the rub will stick to the skin just fine without it.

Do these things, and you’ll end up with a delicious bird. Good luck!

8 Steve January 9, 2014 at 5:46 pm

This video left me thinking… i have never thought about putting some sort of grains, like rice inside the turkey while smoking. I have done it many times while roasting and the rice was more delicious than the meat. Can somebody guide me on this?

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