Smoked Turkey with Herb and Garlic Butter Rub Recipe
Smoked Turkey with a fresh herb and garlic butter rub is a wonderful choice for Thanksgiving or any occasion that your oven is space-challenged! And, if you have never smoked a whole turkey before, you will be surprised at just how easy it is.
Course: Main Dish
Keyword: How to dry brine a turkey, how to smoke a turkey, Thanksgiving turkey
If you are using a Big Green Egg, Egg, add plenty of charcoal, and preheat the grill to 350 degrees without the plate setter. Once it comes up to 350 degrees, sprinkle one cup of hickory or your favorite wood chips over the coals. Add the plate setter with the legs facing up. Place a drip pan filled with water on the plate setter and add the cooking grid.
If you are using another type of grill, follow the manufacturer's directions or set up the grill for indirect grilling. Nestle a drip pan filled with water 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 one-fourth cup of chopped sage, thyme, rosemary, and garlic.
Sprinkle salt and pepper inside and outside of the turkey. Use your hands and rub one-half of the butter herb mixture over the entire turkey. Use the handle of a wooden spoon 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, garlic, and the lemon halves in the turkey cavity.
Maintain the grill heat at 350 degrees (you may have to add additional charcoal) and plan to smoke the turkey for about three hours or 15-20 minutes per pound. About every 30 minutes or so, add a handful of wood chips and brush the turkey with the remaining herb and garlic butter mixture. Add additional water to the drip pan if it needs it.
The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh registers 165 degrees F. Keep in mind that the turkey will continue to cook. The temperature will rise another five to ten degrees while it rests, so plan for that. There are many variables when smoking a turkey, so be sure to use a digital instant-read meat thermometer to check for doneness.
I like to pull mine off of the grill at about 160 degrees. After removing it from the grill, place the turkey on a platter, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving.
Should I brine my turkey before smoking?
You don't have to brine your turkey first, but it will give you a more tender and juicy bird. I recommend dry-brining. Dry-brining 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:
Remove the neck and giblets and pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.
Combine one-third of a cup of kosher salt and one teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle this mixture all over the turkey and inside the cavity. Try to put some of the salt mixture under the skin on the breast.
Place the turkey in a large dish and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least two to three days. If you can't stand the thought of the turkey being uncovered in your refrigerator, place a piece of cheesecloth loosely over it.
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 it dry again with a paper towel.
What's the best wood for smoking a turkey?
Choose a wood that will compliment the flavor of the turkey without overpowering it. I like to use hickory or pecan or fruit woods like cherry, apple, peach, or pear.
How to keep the turkey moist while smoking?
I like to smoke the turkey at 350 degrees, so it doesn't take too long to cook. Also, keeping water in the drip pan helps as it adds a moisture element, and finally, brining it first keeps it moist.
How long does it take to smoke a turkey?
This is an easy one, and the answer is it depends on how hot the grill is and how big the turkey is. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes a pound or three to four hours to smoke it on a 350-degree fire for a twelve-pound turkey. If you are cooking a twelve-pound bird over a 250-degree fire, you can plan 25 to 30 minutes per pound or five to six hours. It also depends on the outside air temperature and the bird's internal temperature when it is placed on the grill.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
The most important thing here is to plan ahead! According to the USDA, a frozen twelve-pound bird will take three to four days to thaw in the refrigerator. This means if you are planning on brining it too, you should plan to purchase your turkey at least a week before Thanksgiving! Also, be sure to put the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.