Tired of dry turkey from the oven? Don’t worry, it’s not your cooking that’s making it dry! Did you know those built-in pop-up thermometers are set at too high of a temperature? If you rely on that pop-up thermometer, your turkey will be overcooked and dry. I have a great smoked Thanksgiving turkey recipe you’ll love! I recommend getting a good thermometer. In my opinion, the Thermapen is the best because it gives an instant reading. The quick reading is an asset because, whether you’re cooking in the oven or the smoker, you can get your temperature reading quickly and close the door before you lose too much cooking heat. The temperature you’re shooting for with turkey is 165 °F.
This is a great recipe that I found and modified to my own liking. It was REALLY good, so it was a keeper for me! So, let’s get into it!
Turkey Brine Recipe
You need to make this brine and get the turkey soaking in it the day prior to cooking. Make sure the Turkey is THAWED at this point so that it can easily soak in the juices! This brine recipe should be good for a 12-15 lb turkey. If you have a larger turkey, just add more water or broth to completely submerge the turkey. What you will need:
Large zip-loc bag
1 gallon of water, chicken broth, or a mixture of both
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
2 cinnamon sticks
7 whole cloves
3 whole bay leaves
1/4 cup minced onion OR 2 tbs mined white onion
1 tbs minced fresh garic
1 tsp smoked Spanish style paprika
1 tsp all spice (I use Lawry’s)
1/2 lemon, pulsed in blender with peel
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 cup brown sugar
Mix all of the above items together in the brine bag. Before placing the turkey in the bag, shake it up to get all of the ingredients all mixed up.
Remove the turkey’s innards and rinse the turkey
Place the turkey in the large zip-loc bag and make sure the turkey is completely submerged
Refrigerate for 24 hours
Note: If you don’t have a brine bag, you can also brine it in a cooler with ice.
I like to brine AND inject my turkey for more flavor and moisture. This is a very good injection and will give you a juicy turkey! Depending on the size of your turkey, you may need to double this recipe. I doubled it for one 12 lb turkey and two smaller turkey breasts. What you will need:
1 stick of butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp hot sauce (I like to use Louisiana style)
1 tbs garlic
1 tbs Cajun seasoning
Note: The injection comes AFTER brining!
Mix all items together in a pot on the stove
Heat, but do not boil
Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes so the ingredients incorporate
Remove from heat after 20 minutes, let cool
Inject the turkey at multiple depths. Yes, inject the legs too!
Turkey Rub Recipe
You can use a commercially available poultry rub, or use this simple recipe to make your own. Honestly, I prefer to use a poultry rub for more flavor. But, below is a basic rub recipe: What you will need:
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cub granulated garlic
1 tbs poultry seasoning
Turkey Rub Directions
Note: The rub comes AFTER injecting!
Mix all of the above ingredients together
If you have an empty spice container, it will make your life easier
Liberally apply the rub to the ENTIRE outside of the turkey
Tip: Sprinkle the rub at about 12-14″ above the turkey (this helps with the best coverage)
Putting It All Together
Just for clarification, perform the above directions in the following order:
Brine the turkey
Inject the turkey
Rub the turkey
Now, it’s time to cook the turkey!
Cooking the Turkey
For my home cooks, I utilize my Trailmaster vertical smoker and cook with Hickory wood.
Heat up the smoker to 275-300°F
Place the turkey directly on the rack
Set a timer for 1 1/2 hours, then rotate the turkey 180° (basically, turn it around…don’t flip it!)
After 2.5 hours, check your meat temperature
When the skin gets dark, lay a piece of foil over the turkey
Once you reach 165°F at the thickest part of the breast, you’re done!
Allow to rest for about 15 minutes
I will be using this recipe again this Thanksgiving. If you try it, let me know!