This Smoked Turkey is the perfect turkey to serve on Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other day of the year. A Smoked Turkey turns out tender and delicious and will be your favorite way to prepare a turkey. Smoking a Turkey isn’t hard – just follow our step by step recipe and you will be a pro in no time!
We’ve all felt it. The pressure of cooking the most important part of Thanksgiving Dinner.
And you’ve probably asked yourself, “Do I roast it, deep fry it, smoke it or should I just buy one that’s already cooked from the grocery store or a local restaurant?”
The answer to that is, yes to all except the last idea. Don’t go buy one that someone else has made. What is the satisfaction in that? With this simple recipe and instructions, you’ll have the confidence you need and you’ll end up with a fail proof method to make your Thanksgiving turkey the star of the meal.
This method is for a whole smoked turkey and trust me, once you try it, you’ll want to make it a new Thanksgiving tradition. I use my Traeger Grill to smoke a turkey and it is one of my most popular and favorite Traeger grill recipes. I hope you will find out for yourself!
How long to Smoke a Turkey
You will want to turn your grill on at 180 degrees F. Once your smoker has finished preheating, place your turkey in the smoker breast side down. At 180 degrees you should plan to smoke your turkey for 2.5- 3 hours. You will then increase the heat to 350 degrees F and cook for another 3-4 hours or until your internal probe thermometer reads at least 165 degrees F.
Once it is finished smoking let it rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
How much Smoked Turkey per person
You may be wondering how much turkey you should plan on per person. This will help you know what size of bird to get. Plan on 1 12 pounds of turkey per person. Of course, if you are also serving little kids you will want to take into consideration that they probably won’t eat that much. But this is a good ball park number to start with. You can round up or down depending on how many kids will be eating as well.
What temperature should a prepared Smoked Turkey reach
It is so important to have a good meat thermometer. I love my thermometer from Thermoworks. I would highly recommend getting a meat thermometer from them. I have loved using mine and it is so simple and easy to read. You can find their selection of thermometers here
When determining if your turkey is fully cooked you will want to aim for the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees. It is important to make sure your bird is fully cooked so do not finished smoking it until it has reached at least 165 degrees- that is the safest temperature to plan on.
You can start testing the temperature before you think it’s done to avoid over cooking it. Once you get that first initial reading it will help you determine how much longer it may need to fully cook.
How to prepare a turkey
This recipe calls for brining your turkey for 12-24 hours so make sure you give yourself enough time to complete this step.
This recipe is made for a 12-16 pound turkey.
Brining actually denatures and dissolves muscle fibers. Imagine you have a thick rope and you start removing each individual strand. It becomes easier to manipulate and less rigid. The same thing happens with your meat. Brining helps maintain moisture and basically “softens” your meat.
This means JUICY meat folks!
Start by removing the neck from the main cavity and the giblets from the neck cavity and place them in a Ziploc bag and put them in the refrigerator. (You’ll want these for gravy, trust me.)
Rinse your bird and check for any feathers that may be left and remove them.
Trim any seriously excess skin and set aside.
How to make a Turkey Brine
In a 5 gallon bucket add the following:
6 Quarts Hot Water
16 oz Kosher Salt (DO NOT use table salt. Table salt is finer and will create a mixture that is too salty)
8 oz Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp of your favorite Poultry Rub
1 Large Orange (sliced)
Stir ingredients until completely dissolved then add:
5 lbs Ice
- Once ice is melted, your brine should be cool.
- Place your turkey, breast side down, in the brine and make sure it stay completely submerged.
- You may need a bowl or something to help keep the turkey completely covered.
- Place your bucket in the fridge or in a cooler surrounded by ice for 12-24 hours.
- When your turkey is done brining, remove it from the solution and pat dry with paper towels. This is a good time to start your smoker.
- Also remove the plastic piece that holds the legs in place and tie the legs back together with butcher string. Tuck the wings up and behind the neck.
- Place your turkey in a deep roasting foil pan breast side up. Don’t skimp on these.
- Remember, you get what you pay for. You can now coat the skin with your choice of butter, oil or some other fat to create a nice color on your skin.
- I used peanut oil with this recipe and it worked great. Shake some more of your favorite poultry rub on your turkey if you like.
How to cook your turkey
- Turn on and get your smoker ready to start working.
- Set temperature to 180 degrees F. Once smoker has finished preheating, place your turkey in the smoker.
- Smoke at 180 degrees F for 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Increase the heat to 350 degrees F and cook for another 3-4 hours or until your internal probe thermometer reads at least 165 degrees F.
- Take these readings at the thickest part of the breast and at the meatiest part of the thigh.
- Remove your turkey and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes before carving.
You’ve now cooked the finest turkey you will ever take to Thanksgiving dinner.
So expect to be asked to cook again for next year…or earlier.
- 1 12-16 pound Turkey
- 6 Quarts Hot Water
- 16 oz Kosher Salt
- 8 oz Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Poultry Rub
- 1 Large Orange
- 5 Pounds Ice
- 3 Tbsp Butter or Oil for coating skin
- Remove neck and giblets from turkey
- Rinse and remove any feathers left behind
- Trim excess skin
- Make Brining solution
- Place Turkey breast side down and completely submerge for 12-24 hours
- Set smoker to 180 degrees F
- Smoke Turkey for 3 hours
- Increase heat to 350 degrees F and cook for 3-4 more hours or until internal probe reads 165 degrees F
- Remove from smoker and let rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
What to serve with a Smoked Turkey
Turkey is traditionally served around the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas- maybe even Easter. But don’t let that stop you from making it year round, too!
You probably have a bunch of side dishes you like to eat with turkey. You can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies and of course- pie.
Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Recipe Guide for all your favorite recipes!