Fresh herbs and hickory smoke come together to produce a tender and juicy smoked turkey that is absolutely delicious. While smoked turkey is an easy way to step up your Thanksgiving, it's also the type of dish that should be eaten all year long, especially in the fall.
What makes smoked turkey so tasty is how the smoke brings out the flavor in the turkey, while cooking it so gently that everything stays moist and juicy.
1 - 10 to 12 lb turkey
1/2 cup salt for brine
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 hours
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
In a large pot brine the turkey overnight, using 1/2 cup of salt and approximately 6 quarts of cold water. Once the turkey is completely submerged in the water place it covered into the fridge.
Finely mince the thyme and sage and add them to the salt, pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika.
Using your fingers, loosen up the skin on the turkey to spread the seasoning under the skin. Also rub the spice mixture all over inside of the bird and on the outside of the skin. If you have some extra thyme and sage feel free to throw them inside the bird.
Smoke the turkey at 250℉. Hickory and mesquite both work really well and add a lot of flavor without overpowering everything when you're smoking a whole turkey. The amount of time it takes to smoke the turkey will vary some by smoker, but generally takes around 5 hours for a 12 pound turkey.
When the turkey is getting close to done, brush the outside with butter, making sure to brush the whole bird a couple of times. This adds flavor and helps to brown everything. It's also really fun to give the turkey a butter bath.
Cook the turkey until the temperature inside the breast is around 162℉. Take the turkey out of the smoker and wrap it up with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will let it finish cooking to 165℉, while absorbing back all of it's juices.
For a great show carve it table side.
The reason it's so important to spread the seasoning under the turkey's skin is so you flavor the meat and not just the skin.
You shouldn't cook stuffing inside of a turkey cooked at this temperature, because the stuffing won't ever get hot enough to kill off the bad stuff.
If fresh herbs aren't available, you can substitute dried thyme and rubbed sage; the dried version will not have as much flavor as the one with fresh herbs.