- 1 10 to 12lb 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
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 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 its 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. 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.
Don't cook stuffing inside a turkey cooked at this temperature because the stuffing won't ever get hot enough to kill off the bad stuff.