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Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey with crispy skin, moist meat and a touch of smokey flavor. The moist meat comes from a dry brine; the crispy skin and flavor come from a Naked Rest and savory Herbs and Spices.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Brine and Rest Time16 hrs
Total Time20 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Cajun, Creole
Keyword: smoked turkey
Servings: 20 Servings
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Sweet Daddy D

Here's What You Need

  • 12 to 14 pound Turkey see Notes

Dry Brine

  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves broken
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional

Injection and wet rub - See Notes

  • 1 cup butter
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup lemon juice strained
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

For the Cavity - See Notes

  • 1 medium Yellow Onions
  • 1 stalk Celery
  • 1 head Garlic
  • 1 small Apple
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 small Lemon
  • 4 sprigs Parsley
  • 1 bunch Fresh Herbs See Notes

Here's What You Do

To Brine:

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and set aside for another use.
  • Trim any excessive loose skin around the cavities. Completely rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Make sure to thoroughly dry the cavities and all the nooks and crannies.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the Dry Brine. Apply ample amounts of the Dry Brine inside the cavity and outside of the bird. Place the turkey on a rack on a baking sheet (something to catch the juice), or inside a Brining Bag and place in the refrigerator for 12 to 14 hours (1 hour per pound).
  • Remove the brined bird from the fridge and thoroughly rinse off the brine under cold water.

Naked Rest:

  • Pat the brined turkey dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels inside and out.
  • Set the turkey back into the fridge, uncovered. for at least 4 hours, longer if possible while the skin dries.

Final Seasoning and Prep:

  • Combine the ingredients for the Dry Rub.
  • Remove the turkey from the fridge. Sprinkle the cavity with ground black pepper and some of the Dry Rub.
  • Melt the butter for the injection/wet rub and mix all the wet rub ingredients; stir to dissolve. Inject the butter mixture into 5 or 6 spots in the thick parts of the turkey, then pour the remaining wet rub over the bird and spread thoroughly with your hands. Make sure to rub some under the skin and catch all the nooks and crannies.
  • Cut the ingredients to stuff the cavity into manageable sizes. Make a bouquet garni (See Notes) with the fresh herbs. Place all of these in the cavity and push to make a tight fit.
  • Bend the wing tips back under the wings. If there is a flap of skin that you can stitch the legs in, do so. If not, tie the legs together with butcher twine.
  • Apply a generous amount of Dry Rub all over the turkey, making sure to catch all the nooks and crannies and get some under the skin. Insert the temperature probe (see Notes). Place the turkey on a prep board and set aside while the smoker is prepared.

On the smoker:

  • Prepare your smoker for 325 degrees Fahrenheit with your favorite smoke wood.
  • (to catch the drippings) When the smoker is ready, place the turkey on the grate. Depending on your smoker, place an aluminum pan under the grate, or you could place the turkey in an aluminum pan to catch the drippings. Do not cover. Monitor the internal temperature as it smokes, but resist the temptation to open the lid often.
  • Once the thermometer shows about 155 to 160 degrees IT in the breast, start checking the temperature with your instant-read thermometer in a number of places of white and dark meat. See Notes about how to do this.
  • Once the IT has been verified at 170 degrees in the thigh and 160 in the breast, remove the turkey from the smoker, cover loosely with an aluminum foil tent and allow it to rest. Maintain the thermometer probe in the breast to monitor carryover cooking.


For a more detailed explanation of the process, read my Smoked Turkey article.
Check out this Butterball web page for information on choosing a turkey, defrosting a turkey plus all sorts of information you didn't know you needed.  
About the Serving Size: I am estimating about 4 ounces per serving. The actual amount will vary depending upon how much other food you will be serving. If the turkey yields ⅓ to ½ of its original weight when cooked, a 13-pound turkey should yield a little over 5 pounds of meat.
How long will it take to smoke my turkey: Cooking time is estimated to be about 15 minutes per pound, but the turkey is only done when the thighs reach 180 degrees and the breasts reach 170 degrees. The most accurate way to measure this is with a meat thermometer. Try the Thermopen and Smoke from Thermoworks. Here is a short video about how to use the temperature probes.
What about leftovers? Leftovers will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge and 2 to 3 months in the freezer. For optimal quality, make sure the leftovers are wrapped in an airtight container. 
Aromatics stuffed in the cavity: This shouldn't be confused with stuffing, which is that wonderful concoction of bread and seasonings cooked inside of the bird and served on the side. Due to the challenge of properly cooking the stuffing and the turkey, I do not recommend you stuffing the turkey unless you are experienced in doing so. (If you choose to stuff your turkey, make sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees throughout.) The ingredients to stuff in the cavity while cooking are a combination of sweet and savory, with fresh herbs. This helps with moisture and lends a rustic flavor element.  The quantity of what you choose depends on personal preference and the size of the cavities. Cut the ingredients in half or small pieces and make a bouquet garni with the herbs, then jam everything in the cavity in an orderly but pretty snug fashion.


Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 3163mg | Potassium: 543mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 854IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg

This recipe came from First...You Have a Beer (www.firstyouhaveabeer.com). If you like it, please leave a 5 star rating and a comment on the site and, most importantly, SHARE it with your friends.