I’m going to start by saying: you have to make this turkey for Thanksgiving. Before you nix this smoked turkey as a contender, let me address a few concerns. Yes, it involves a bit more work and special equipment, but if you have a gas grill, you can easily turn your gas grill into smoker with just a little more effort than is required anyway for Thanksgiving dinner. The only essential tools you need are a digital meat thermometer (which I always recommend for roasting turkey), a disposable aluminum pan and wood chips (both very cheap). Second, I too was nervous that the smoke flavor would be overwhelming and that the turkey would taste like deli meat. But, the smoke flavor is very light and works perfectly with the turkey. So perfect. I also thought smoking would dry out the turkey meat, but with a long brine the night before, the meat was as juicy as any oven roast turkey. Smoking is actually very easy once you have all your ingredients in place– the key is to keep a stable grill temperature and use a thermometer to avoid overcooking the turkey. Okay, I hope I’ve convinced you to make this because I know this smoked turkey is going on my Thanksgiving table this year and the next year and the next . . .

Thanksgiving Smoked Whole Turkey | HonestlyYUM

One day before you plan on smoking your turkey (preferably in the morning), brine the turkey by boiling the salt, brown sugar (or honey), black peppercorns and four cups of water in a stock pot large enough to fit the whole turkey. Once the salt and sugar is dissolved turn the heat off and add ice into the stock pot. Add enough water so it fills half the pot. Submerge the turkey into the brine and add any more water needed to submerge the turkey entirely in the brine. Cover with the lid and refrigerate overnight.

Whole smoked turkey

On the morning of the day you plan to cook your turkey, remove the turkey from the brine and give it a quick rinse under running water. Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a rack and let it sit on the counter at room temperature. When you are ready to smoke your turkey, pat the skin dry with paper towels and stuff the inside cavity with onions, garlic, thyme and lemon. Rub the outside of the turkey with the softened butter and wrap the wings with foil.

Wood and ingredients

Soak the wood chips in water and drain. To prepare the foil packets add two handfuls of wood chips to double lined sheets of foil and fold each side so each side is tightly sealed. Poke holes with a knife in one side of the foil packets.

Wood packets

Your grill will have gas lines that run either horizontal or vertical. If they run horizontally, you will place the turkey either to the front or the back of the grill and the wood chips on the other side. If they run vertically, you will place the turkey on the right or left and the wood chips on the other side. Remove the grates of your grill and place the disposable foil pan on one side of the grill directly on the gas line. Add about an inch of water to the pan. Place the grate over the disposable pan.

Close the grill and turn the grill on high heat on whatever side you have your wood chips on. Leave the other side where your turkey will be off. Wait until the temperature reaches 325 degrees. Place the turkey directly on the grill grates over the disposable foil pan. On the other side, place two foil packets directly on top of the heat. Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful not to allow it to touch the bone or poke through the other side.

Turkey smoking

Close the lid and allow the turkey to smoke. After about an hour remove the foil from the wings and baste with melted butter. After another half hour, turn the turkey around 180 degrees (re-positioning the thermometer if necessary) baste the turkey again and replace any packets with a new one if one stops smoking.

Smoked whole turkey

Continue to smoke the turkey, basting occasionally (not too often– you want to try and maintain the temperature of your grill) until the inside of the turkey reaches 170 degrees. Remove the turkey and allow it to rest for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove the aromatics inside the cavity and carve the turkey.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey  | HonestlyYUM

Stay tuned Wednesday as we show you how to carve a turkey along with a special giveaway!

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey | HonestlyYUM

Carved Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey | HonestlyYUM

SMOKED THANKSGIVING TURKEY

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-15 pound whole turkey, de-frosted
  • 3 foil packs of wood chips with about 2 handfuls of apple wood chips in each
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, split in half
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 small bundle of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 gallon of heavily iced water
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons of softened butter
  • Special equipment: a digital oven or grill meat thermometer and 1 disposable foil pan (11-3/4 inch x 9-1/4 inch)

Directions:

  • One day before you plan on smoking your turkey (preferably in the morning), brine the turkey by boiling the salt, brown sugar (or honey), black peppercorns and four cups of water in a stock pot large enough to fit the turkey comfortably. Once the salt and sugar is dissolved turn the heat off and add ice into the stock pot. Add enough water so it fills half the pot. Submerge the turkey into the brine and add any more water needed to submerge the turkey entirely in the brine. Cover with the lid and refrigerate overnight.
  • On the morning of the day you plan to cook your turkey, remove the turkey from the brine and give it a quick rinse under running water. Place the turkey in a roasting pan on a rack and let it sit on the counter at room temperature. When you are ready to smoke your turkey, pat the skin dry with paper towels and stuff the inside cavity with onions, garlic, thyme and lemon. Rub the outside of the turkey with the softened butter and wrap the wings with foil.
  • Soak the wood chips in water and drain. To prepare the foil packets add two handfuls of wood chips to double lined sheets of foil and fold each side so each side is tightly sealed. Poke holes with a knife in one side of the foil packets.
  • Your grill will have gas lines that run either horizontal or vertical. If they run horizontally, you will place the turkey either to the front or the back of the grill and the wood chips on the other side. If they run vertically, you will place the turkey on the right or left and the wood chips on the other side. Remove the grates of your grill and place the disposable foil pan on one side of the grill directly on the gas line. Add about an inch of water to the pan. Place the grate over the disposable pan.
  • Close the grill and turn the grill on high heat on whatever side you have your wood chips on. Leave the other side where your turkey will be off. Close the grill and wait until the temperature reaches 325 degrees. Place the turkey directly on the grill grates over the disposable foil pan. On the other side, place two foil packets directly on top of the heat. Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the thigh being careful not to allow it to touch the bone or poke through the other side.
  • Close the lid and allow the turkey to smoke. After about an hour remove the foil from the wings and baste with melted butter.
  • After another half hour, turn the turkey around 180 degrees (re-positioning the thermometer if necessary) baste the turkey again and replace any packets with a new one if one stops smoking.
  • Smoke the turkey, basting occasionally (not too often– you want to try and maintain the temperature of your grill) until the inside of the turkey reaches 170 degrees.
  • Remove the turkey and allow it to rest for 30 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove the aromatics inside the cavity and carve the turkey.