Easy Smoked Turkey Recipe

New to turkey smoking? This easy smoked turkey just might be the right place to start. The recipe uses few ingredients, and would be a perfect first smoked turkey for the novice.

This smoked turkey isn't weighed down with lots of spices, herbs and seasonings. The only flavors added are the taste of salt, the sweetness of sugar and the mellowness of the smoke. That's it. What you end up getting is great smoked turkey taste without all the hoohah.

Here's a list of everything you'll need for this smoked turkey recipe:

Items and Ingredients You'll Need

  • 1 natural turkey
  • Water
  • Canning salt
  • White sugar
  • Butter
  • Clean food grade 5 gallon bucket
  • Cheesecloth
  • Large stockpot
  • Smoker chips; apple, cherry or hickory
  • Meat smoker

Basic Turkey Brine Recipe

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1-1/2 cups canning salt
  • 1-1/3 cups white sugar

Add the salt, sugar and one gallon of water to a stockpot. Bring it to a boil, completely dissolving the salt and sugar. Cool to room temperature. Pour the brine and the second gallon of water to a clean 5 gallon bucket and refrigerate.

Brining the Turkey

When the brine is below 40°F, add the trimmed and rinsed turkey to the brine bucket, breast end down first. Weight the turkey with a foil covered brick to keep it completely submerged.

Brine the turkey at least 6 hours, but no more than 12. The longer in the brine, the saltier the turkey will be. Rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry with a towel. Set the turkey on the kitchen counter as you prepare the smoker.

Easy Smoked Turkey

Smoking the Turkey

The best temperature range for smoking turkey is between 275-300°F. The skin will brown nicely at those temperatures. (When smoking at lower temperatures the skin remains moist and rubbery.)

Melt 1 stick (1/4 pound) of butter. Cut off a piece of cheesecloth that's large enough to just touch the grate all the way around when it's draped over the turkey. Soak the cheesecloth in the butter.

Start up the smoker and add the first addition of smoke wood. Place the turkey in the smoker, breast side up, as it's coming up to temperature. Cover it with a single layer of butter-soaked cheesecloth...dripping wet with butter. The buttery cheesecloth prevents the skin from becoming too smoky, and helps the skin become brown and crispy.

Insert a remote thermometer probe into the center of one side of the breast, away from any bone. Close the smoker. Continue smoking the turkey for approximately 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees. A 12 pound bird will take about 4 hours, more or less. This time is just an estimate. Use the internal temperature in deciding when the turkey is done.

Rotate the turkey 1/4 turn every hour as it smokes to ensure even cooking. Leave it breast side up, just spin it around. A total of three additions of smoking wood is plenty. Use about 1/2 cup of chips, soaked in water then wrapped in foil for each addition.

The easy smoked turkey is done when the breast reaches 160°F and the thigh 175°F. Remove it from the smoker, remove the cheesecloth, and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.