Garlic Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving with fresh herbs is a delicious choice for any holiday that your oven is space challenged! And, if you have never smoked a turkey before, you will be surprised at just how easy it is.
Smoking a turkey is a great option for Thanksgiving or Easter, especially in the South and other areas of the country where the weather is still balmy. Also, smoking solves the puzzle of how to cook for a crowd when you have just one small oven.
Garlic Smoked Turkey with fresh herbs for Thanksgiving also tastes and looks amazing! Smoking gives the turkey a deep golden brown color and the meat is moist and tender, with just a hint of smokiness.
Need even more Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas? Check out these roundup posts:
How to Make Fresh Herb and Garlic Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving
Garlic Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving only calls for a few ingredients which are: fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, butter, lemons, kosher salt, and ground black pepper and the star of the show, turkey.
It’s not necessary to brine your turkey first, but if you prefer it, I recommend dry-brining, which is much easier than trying to submerge a large turkey in a bucket of water and then trying to figure out how to store it in the refrigerator overnight.
Also, if you are going to brine your turkey, be sure to stay away from kosher turkeys, which have been pre-salted, as well as self-basting turkeys, which have been injected with a salt solution. If in doubt, read the label.
How to dry brine a turkey
To dry brine your turkey, remove the neck and giblets. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry. Combine 1/3 cup salt and one teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle all over the turkey and inside the cavity. Put the turkey in a large dish and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The longer, the better. I know it seems strange to leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator, but it will help dry the skin out which will, in turn, make it extra crispy. When you are ready to cook the turkey, rinse well and pat dry.
How to smoke a turkey
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and nestle a drip pan in the middle of the charcoal to catch the turkey drippings. Light the charcoal and preheat the grill to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl mix the softened butter with 1/4 cup each of chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary, and garlic.
Sprinkle salt and pepper inside and outside of the turkey. Rub or brush half of the butter herb mixture over the entire turkey and loosen the skin over the breast so you can put some of the butter between the skin and breast.
Place the rest of the fresh herbs and the lemon halves in the turkey cavity.
Place the turkey on the grill.
Cover with the grill lid or, if you don’t have a lid, cover the entire grill with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Maintain the grill heat at 350 degrees (you may have to add additional charcoal) and plan to smoke the turkey for about 2 hours or 15-20 minutes per pound. About every 20 minutes or so, brush the turkey with the herb butter mixture.
There are lots of variables when smoking a turkey, so use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees F, or the thigh registers 170-175 degrees F. When done, move the turkey to a platter, cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving.
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