Traditional recipes

Succulent Smoked Turkey Recipe

Succulent Smoked Turkey Recipe

Let your turkey come up to room temperature before seasoning and placing in the smoker. To season, create a mixture of equal parts salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic. Rub this mixture on the outside and inside of the turkey.

Fill a chimney charcoal starter with the briquettes and light. Wait 15-20 minutes for the charcoal to ash over, and then pour the hot coals over the rest of the briquettes. Wait approximately 15 more minutes for the rest of coals to ignite and ash over.

If you plan to make gravy, line the empty water basin with aluminum foil to catch the drippings and keep them cool during the smoking process.

Assemble the smoker according to manufacturer instructions, and allow it to heat up to about 300-350 degrees before loading the turkey. Center the turkey on the top cooking rack, over the drip pan. Cover and let the smoker perform its magic.

Add in applewood chips periodically to enhance the smoky flavor. The temperature should hold between 250-300 degrees. If it drops, add a few more coals to regain this temperature range.

It will take about 5 hours to smoke a 14-pound turkey to the ideal temperature of 160 degrees. (We recommend checking the temperature early and often with a digital meat thermometer. This will ensure you do not overcook the bird.)

Let the turkey rest on a cutting board or platter for about 20 minutes before carving.

Even if you’ve never cooked turkey necks before, you’ve probably noticed that they have plenty of meat on them. In fact, you don’t have to wait until next Thanksgiving to obtain one. Most butcher shops will have plenty of meaty turkey necks on hand. If they don’t, you can ask them to place a special order for you.

Like the rest of the dark meat, turkey necks are rich and succulent. When they’ve been cooked properly, they’re fall-off-the bone tender—the ideal comfort food for a chilly day.

You’ll find that the majority of recipes for turkey necks call for the meat to be smoked beforehand. While it’s possible to buy smoked turkey necks commercially, we prefer to take care of that step ourselves. That way, we can control the amount of smoke flavor that we get. It also helps us to ensure that the meat is of the highest possible quality.

Oven Roasted Turkey Recipes:

Herb and Butter Roasted Turkey with White Wine Pan Gravy from Halfbaked Harvest Keeping it classic, this Herb and Butter Roasted Turkey is a traditional take on the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Herbs and butter. Nothing fancy, nothing overdone. Just classic, simple and delicious flavors.

Dry Brine Turkey with Orange Rosemary Herb Butter from Perry&rsquos Plate Dry brining is like wet brining without the water. It&rsquos more like a seasoning rub that you leave on the bird for a few days before cooking &mdash at least 3 days and up to 4-5 days. This recipe uses salt, black pepper, and coconut sugar for the dry brine and includes a rosemary herb compound butter for roasting.

Orange Ginger Glazed Turkey from The Roasted Root &ndash Sweet, zesty flavorful turkey with aromatic orange and ginger flavors is a wildly amazing changeup from classic Thanksgiving flavors. If you&rsquore looking for a different spin on the holidays this year, this recipe is for you!

Tart Cherry Cranberry Glazed Turkey from Running to the Kitchen &ndash A changeup from the ye old classic flavors, this recipe is ultra enticing and a unique Thanksgiving turkey recipe! The slightly sweet and sticky glaze gives the bird tons of festive flavor!

How to Roast a Turkey &ndash The Easy Way from Everyday Maven &ndash A beginner&rsquos guide to roasting a Thanksgiving turkey using a wet brine and a dry rub ( or using either/or method). This easy method results in amazing tender turkey!

Roast Turkey with Citrus, Herbs and Za&rsquoatar from Little Ferraro Kitchen Amazing Thanksgiving citrus and herb roast turkey, seasoned with loads of aromatic za&rsquoatar, citrus zest and fresh herbs and then slathered with butter making it juicy and flavorful. You don&rsquot want to miss this otherworldly take on turkey!

Cranberry Jalapeno Honey Baked Turkey from A Spicy Perspective A sweet and spicy approach to your holiday meal! The most amazing turkey brine and glaze recipe, that produces a golden glistening juicy turkey with a crispy crust!

Dry Brine Turkey with garlic Butter Rub from Valerie&rsquos Kitchen &ndash The process of dry brining a turkey creates an incredibly tender, juicy result with beautifully browned, crispy skin. This Dry Brine Turkey with Garlic Butter Rub will make a gorgeous centerpiece for your holiday table.

Garlic Herb Butter Roast Turkey from Cafe Delites &ndash Garlic herb butter roast turkey recipe (without a brine!) is succulent and tender on the inside with a golden, buttery skin and so much flavor! Dried out breasts and meat are a thing of the past with this perfect Turkey Recipe. Slathered with a garlic herb butter then oven roasted to get the most perfect, juicy meat and golden brown skin.

Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Brine from Flavor Mosaic &ndash The secret to this amazing turkey recipe is the Apple Cider Brine and lots of butter. Bringing the turkey in an apple cider brine, then roasting it with plenty of butter and seasoning results in a delectable texture and tons of flavor.

Easy Garlic Herb Oven Roasted Turkey from NeighborFood &ndash A classic approach to your Thanksgiving centerpiece! This recipe provides the ultimate guide to roasting a turkey from start to finish and includes a video!

Dry Brined Orange Rosemary Roasted Turkey from Flavor the Moments &ndash Dry Brined Orange Rosemary Roasted Turkey is the easy way to brine your turkey with no messy liquid and the crispiest skin ever!

Easy Roast Turkey from Boulder Locavore &ndash No brining or advance prep is needed for this super easy turkey recipe! This recipe post includes everything you need to know about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, AND includes a unique tip!: flipping the turkey half-way through! Check it out to learn how to make turkey the easy way.

Texas Style Smoked Turkey

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 10

Ingredients US Metric

  • 1 (12-to 15-pound) turkey
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons ground cumin, or more, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground chile powder from a single chile pepper (such as New Mexico or ancho)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Wood chips, chunks, or logs for smoking


At least 1 hour before cooking, spatchcock* (see below) the turkey. Alternatively, you can ask your butcher to do this for you.

Rinse the turkey under cold water, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle both sides of the bird with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, chile powder, and vinegar until it forms a thick paste. Use your hands to slather the mixture over the turkey (and, if you want, a little can go under the skin) and let it rest while you prepare the fire.

If using a charcoal grill, prepare a charcoal grill for indirect cooking on medium-high When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use your tongs to arrange them into a crescent moon shape.

If using a gas grill, heat it for indirect cooking.

Toss your smoke source (chips, chunks, or log) in the grill or smoker box, if your grill has one. Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.

When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the turkey on the grill, breast side up, with the turkey legs and thighs situated over the direct heat of the coals and the breast toward indirect heat.

Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke, adding hot coals or wood as necessary to maintain the temperature between 325°F (165°C) and 350°F (175°C), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads between 175°F (79°C) and 180°F (82°C) and the breast reads between 160°F (71°C) and 165°F (74°C), about 2 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest for at least 20 minutes.

Slice the turkey into portions and serve immediately. The skin will be tough, as is usually the case with smoked poultry, so you may want to caution guests to simply set it off to the side.

What You Need To Know About Spatchocking A Turkey

“Spatchcocking” basically means butterflying a turkey by taking the backbone out, which enables you to flatten the bird which, in turn, ensures it cooks far more evenly on the grill than if it was in it usual form. The name “butterflying” presumably comes from the resemblance of the spread-out hen to a butterfly (well, maybe a little, after a few beers). Whatever you call this nifty trick, after you try it once, you’re going to want to do it again. And again. And again. A pair of sturdy kitchen shears will make much quicker work of the task for the spatchcock-obsessed than even your trustiest chef’s knife, though the latter comes in handy after you pull the turkey from the grill and need to divvy it up into parts.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Grilling a whole turkey might sound like a lot of work, but there are advantages that far exceed the few extra steps. For me, the flavor you get from grilling trumps an oven roasted turkey and adding just a bit of smoke takes it over the top.

I tend to stick with the standard poultry seasoning (parsley, rosemary, sage, lemon) so I was intrigued by the spice blend in this recipe. It has a Mexican vibe so I knew I wanted the whole meal to revolve around that.

My turkey weighed about 10 pounds and I spatchcocked it using poultry scissors. I used all the spices listed to make the paste and I had plenty to cover the turkey. The cumin was a little heavy so I think I would cut back on that next time.

I started the fire using lump charcoal to get the grill hot then topped off with briquettes to maintain. Once I got the bird on I added a handful of apple wood chips and put the lid on. The grill came up to temp rather quickly so I adjusted the vents. I used a digital probe thermometer stuck through the top vent to get a more accurate air reading. I only had to top off the coals and wood chips one time and that only took a minute to do.

I found that using my pizza peel to take the bird off the grill worked well to keep it from falling apart. The turkey was done in 2 hours and that gave me enough time to make the rest of the meal. I served it with black beans and rice, warm tortillas, roasted garlic, guacamole, and pico de gallo. The breast was very tender and juicy and not dry at all. This will be my go-to method for my next Thanksgiving turkey for sure.

This is a delicious, simple recipe using store cupboard essentials which could be used on many different meats in preparation for the bbq. It’s addictive with its heat and sweetness and this is now my go-to rub for meats.

I really struggled with cooking this on the grill. The sugar makes it extremely prone to burning and controlling the heat was the biggest challenge. The rub itself is delicious and if you have a snazzy bbq and are more adept at this kind if cooking method I think this is a real pearl of a recipe.

I followed all instructions to the point of getting the meat on the bbq, but after about 30 mins of trying to control the heat and stop it going black I felt I had no option to admit defeat and knock the oven on and finish it off in there at 220°F and covered in foil. I would hold my hands up and say this could easily be my lack of ability with a bbq (!!) so may well not reflect an issue with the recipe.

I have to say, though, I still got a deliciously succulent turkey - very tasty indeed. I actually paired this with the magic sauce and it went beautifully.

This served 8 of us. (We are greedy.)

I used hickory wood chips.

The spice mix didn't make a paste. More of a dry crumble. I added an extra tablespoon of vinegar which still didn't make a paste but was easily enough smeared onto the turkey.


#LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Smoked turkey


  • 10 lbs 4.5 kg whole whole turkey
  • 5 5 stems fresh rosemary, about 3" long (8cm)
  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cups 1.9 liters water
  • ¾ cup 180 ml salt
  • ½ cup 120 ml Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup 120 ml unsweetened apple juice (optional)

Below 4 E% carbs or, 7 g of carbs or less if it is a mealRead more

Besides being tested by the original recipe creator, this recipe has also been tested and quality approved by our test kitchen.


Instructions are for servings. Please modify as needed.

Oven instructions

Oven directions: Place the turkey breast side down on a roasting rack nested in a roasting pan. Bake at 325°F (175°C) for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F (74°C)

Placing the turkey breast side down allows the juices to run into the breast while it cooks. To brown or crisp the skin even more when using the oven, you can flip the turkey breast over and briefly use the broiler setting to brown and crisp the skin.

The skin will be crispier if you make certain the turkey does not rest in its dripping as it cooks, but be sure to save the drippings if you wish to make gravy. You can also drizzle the drippings over the turkey after it is served.

You can skip the brining process if you like, but brining ensures a moist and tender turkey breast.

The smoky flavor makes leftovers sublime! Use them to make a delicious soup or substitute leftover turkey for chicken in our delicious chicken pot pie.

Succulent Roast Turkey – Delicious any time of the year

/>by Louise Liebenberg

Succulent Roast Turkey: Who said it is only for Christmas? Image: Supplied.

Succulent roast turkey is one of those dishes that most of us look forward to with great anticipation every Christmas. But who said that it is a dish that should only be enjoyed over Christmas time?

Surprise and spoil your guests with this succulent roast turkey recipe boasting with a glamourous magazine-cover look. And it doesn’t only look delicious but each bite through the crispy skin into the juicy meat is simply delightful.

To ensure the turkey cooks to perfection, here are some easy tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you allow enough time for thawing the turkey. Although you can cook a completely frozen turkey, it will take 50 percent longer to cook than a fully thawed turkey, so you will save a lot of time if you start the cooking process with a fully thawed bird.
  • Keep basting the turkey while cooking to lock in the delicious moisture.
  • Finally, once the turkey is cooked, allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Turkey is super rich in protein and packed with loads of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins. If you are trying to limit your calorie intake, bear in mind that skinless cuts have fewer calories and less fat than those with the skin on.

Key Temperatures for Smoked Turkey

Bring the temperature of your smoker or BBQ between 325° and 350° F Fahrenheit for optimal cooking that doesn’t take all day.

Smoker temp: 325° F (163° C)
Turkey breast internal temp: 165° F (73° C)
Turkey thigh internal temp: 175° F (79° C)

Temperature Tools:
Use a Thermoworks Smoke (affiliate) to remotely monitor the temperature of your smoker and the internal temperature of the turkey so you know exactly when the turkey is ready to come off the smoker. Use a Thermapen probe thermometer to verify internal temperatures.

There will be carryover cooking after you remove the turkey from the smoker. I will pull the turkey out of the smoker when the breast reaches about 159° F and it will rise to 165° F while it rests.

Placing the turkey on a v-rack not only promotes air circulation, but it makes for an easy job of transporting the buttery bird from the kitchen right onto the hot grill. If you need to move it around on the grill, or transfer to a sheet pan after it’s done cooking, that’s a breeze too.

Cooking turkey breasts only

Here’s a beautifully cooked turkey breast.

If you don’t want to do a whole bird for our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, smoking turkey breasts is a great alternative. They come in three forms, a double breast cut off the bird with bone in (above), a single boneless breast (below), or two breasts de-boned and rolled together and held tight with a mesh. The mesh is a pain to get off after you are done cooking. I much prefer the bone in breasts or boneless breasts when grilling or smoking a turkey. A 3 to 6 pound whole double bone in breast will be done in 1.5 to 2 hours at 325°F, and larger breasts will be done in 2 to 2.5 hours. Boneless double breasts tied as roasts take about 2 to 2.5 hours. Single breast of 2 to 3 pounds will take about an hour.

For smoking turkey breasts, just follow the same basic concept as for the whole bird. Inject or dry brine, watch the temp like a hawk circling a flock of turkeys. You will need to add chicken stock to the gravy because there will be few drippings and no neck and skin to throw in there. Another option is to paint them with a Teriyaki or Yakitori sauce.

Here’s another example of a sliced turkey breast.

But if you’re going to the trouble of preparing our grilled turkey or smoked turkey recipe, why not cook the whole bird and savor the leftovers in sandwiches, salads, pot pies… ?

Making turketta

This turketta is another beautiful way to serve turkey during the holidays.

As an alternative to our traditional grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, porchetta is a classic Italian recipe for stuffing a whole hog. Inspired, I’ve created something I called Turketta. I took a bone in breast, removed the skin, boned out the meat, placed them on the skin, piled on a stuffing of dried cranberries soaked in port wine, rolled it up and smoked it. Click here for the recipe with step by step pictures.

Smoked legs & wings

Smoked turkey legs just like you’d find at Disney.

Smoked legs, which are technically drumstick and thigh together take 1.5 to 2 hours together or separately. Wings, 1 to 1.5 hours.

Disney Smoked Turkey Legs

A smoked turkey leg at Disney.

Visit any of the Disney parks and you will see folks stumbling around delirious with huge smiles and monster turkey legs (actually they are drumsticks, since technically legs include the thigh). These pterodactyl-sized drums have spawned fan pages, scores of videos on YouTube, and rumors (no they are not emu legs). Smoking turkey legs has become so popular at Disney that they were featured on page one of the New York Times once. They are not hard to make at home once you crack the secret recipe, and we have it with a video.

Rotisserie cooking

Rotisseries are a good way to cook meat because the process of rotating it between hot and cool zones retains juices and insures even cooking, but I don’t recommend them for turkey.

The problem is that you need to truss the bird up tight on a spit or else the wings and drums go flopping around and get burned. If you truss your bird for use when preparing a grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, the skin beneath the wings, thighs, and drums never darkens and stays rubbery. And because the thigh is pressed tightly against the side, it takes too long to warm and cook through, so by the time it hits ideal temp, about 170°F, the breast is overcooked. That’s why I recommend cooking turkey untrussed.

In addition, it is difficult to balance the bird on the spit. If it is imbalanced it puts serious strain on the motor. I’ve heard of them burning out. Replacement motors are usually north of $100. Some rotisseries come with counterweights that you put on the handle to balance the whole gizmo, like the weights you put on tires to balance them. That is a good thing.

Finally, the bird can rip loose of its moorings, and then you have torn breasts. I say fogeddaboudit.

Vertical roasters work

Turkey sitting on a vertical roasting rack.

If you must serve a whole bird Norman Rockwell style, and if your cooker is tall enough, and most eggs, kamados, and ceramic grills are, try roasting the bird vertically.

The advantage of a vertical roaster is that you get much better airflow up into the cavity than when the bird is reclining and that means better smoke penetration from the inside as well as more even and faster cooking. The disadvantage is that you can’t easily put aromatics in the cavity which you can do when the bird is horizontal. Just make sure the tail sits about 3″ above the drip pan for proper airflow.

The device you want is a wire armature that supports the bird like the Spanek Vertical Roaster (shown here).

Don’t put a beer can or a cannon up your bird’s butt

Do not under any circumstance use a beer can or similar turkey cannon for cooking your turkey.

You absolutely do not want a beer can or Turkey Cannon or anything with solid sides because the metal blocks airflow to the cavity and impedes heat and smoke when preparing our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe. And no, the liquid in the can will not add moisture to the meat, especially where the can is in contact with meat because it will not boil. Click here to read the science explaining why beer can chicken and turkey are bad ideas.

Is pink meat safe?

When preparing our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, you might wonder if it is ok that some of the meat is pink. Yes, it can be, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

First of all, some turkey meat is naturally pink. According to the USDA “The color of cooked meat and poultry is not always a sure sign of its degree of doneness. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that a meat has reached a safe temperature. Turkey, fresh pork, ground beef, or veal can remain pink even after cooking to temperatures of 160°F and higher. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.”

In addition, smoked meat turns pink due to a chemical reaction with the combustion gases and the smoke and the meat. For the Ultimate Turkey, we take the bird off at 160°F and it will rise to 165°F even if it is off the cooker.

Click here for more on what are ideal meat temps. Click here for more on meat science and the thermodynamics of cooking.

What about red or pink juices after preparing our grilled turkey or smoked turkey recipe?

Because of the speed with which commercial turkey farms grow their birds, it is not uncommon for there to be red or pink juices in the thigh joints even if the meat is properly cooked during our smoked turkey recipe. That’s because the joints bones have not had a chance to properly harden. If a little red makes you nervous, even if your thermometer is at 165°F, after carving, a minute or two in the microwave will take care of it. For a real eye-opener on why poultry is not done when the juices run clear, click here.

Taking your bird over the river and through the woods

A cooked turkey in a cooler to keep it warm during travel.

If you are unsure about what temp your cooker will settle in at when preparing our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, and since variables like the ambient air temperature, sun, and wind can really muck things up, I recommend you put the bird on 30 to 60 minutes early, and when the probe says it is 160 to 165°F, put the bird into a faux Cambro to keep the bird warm until dinner time. A real Cambro is an insulated storage box popular with caterers. A faux cambro is simply a beer cooler.

The meat temp will rise about 5°F at first, and an hour later the temp will have dropped only about 5 to 10°F! Just don’t let it drop below 150°F. If you have a good cooler, it should stay safe for up to 3 hours. This technique will soften the skin a bit, but that’s better than going cold turkey. So get that cooler cleaned up before you start cooking. Use bleach to clean it. Click here to read more about how to use a faux Cambro.

The faux cambro is especially handy if you need to take the bird over the river and through the woods.

I know you want to show off the fruits of your labor after preparing our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, but if dinner is more than 2 to 3 hours away, you need to cook the bird to 160°F, then chill the bird and re-heat it to 160°F when you get there. This is called “serving leftovers for Thanksgiving dinner.” Now why would you do that? The meat will be dry and you’ll need a lot of my thin gravy to moisten it. I strongly recommend you serve freshly cooked meat or let somebody else cook the bird. If you have to cook the bird and travel more than 2 hours, then get there early and cook it on site. Cook it fast by spatchcocking it. Re-therming a cooked bird can take almost as much time as cooking it from scratch.

You will not enhance your rep with reheated dry meat.

What is the difference between white meat and dark meat?

As much as we are fascinated with breasts in this easily titillated society, I should set the record straight: Technically a turkey has one large breast divided by a breast bone. So as to not confuse, I shall be technically incorrect in this article and refer to each pectoral muscle as a separate breast.

Turkey breasts are called white meat because the muscles are paler than the meat of the legs and thighs. That’s because domesticated turkeys can’t fly, so their legs and thighs get more exercise than the breasts and wings. As a result, the muscles of the legs and thighs must be more efficient at using oxygen for continuous muscle contractions over an extended time. These “slow-twitch” muscles fire slowly and fatigue slowly, so they need more oxygen for fuel. To supply this oxygen they have more myoglobin and fat in them. Myoglobin is a pink protein liquid that stores oxygen brought to it by the blood, and fat is a storehouse of fuel. The pink liquid in the plastic bag the bird comes in is myoglobin. Dark meat is pink when cooked medium rare just like pork, but for safety reasons we cook it well past pink until it turns gray.

Breast meat is made of “fast-twitch” pectoral muscles that are good at short bursts of rapid contraction, but they fatigue quickly. They don’t need much oxygen so they have much less of the pink myoglobin leaving the meat white when cooked.

Since domesticated birds such as the one likely used by you for our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, are largely confined and get little exercise, none of their muscles have nearly as much myoglobin for storing oxygen as red meat animals such as beef.

Wine for our grilled turkey or smoked turkey recipe: Match the sides, not the bird

Turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. No other meal has such a set menu. So what to serve?

When cooked properly, our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe results in tasty and moist meat. When overcooked, as it often is, the dry meat is neutral and unexciting. So we moisten it with gravy and cranberry sauce and surround it with sweet dishes to enliven it.

If the task of selecting the beverage to accompany the annual eat-in has fallen to you, remember the sweetness of the sides, the fact that you are buying for everyone, not just yourself, and the fact that the average American does not like wine that is very dry.

What is needed is something quenching to wash down overcooked white meat, something with a hint of sweetness so it will not taste bitter beside the sweet side dishes, something tart enough to cut their sweetness, and something friendly that everybody will love.

Below are my recommendations for different types of wines to serve with our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe. Ask your wine merchant for specific recommendations. They will rarely steer you wrong because they want you back.

And about the picture above, that is Yours Truly before I turned gray when I was the wine critic for the Washington Post pouring an 1806 Lafite, at the time the most expensive wine ever sold.

With a hint of sweetness

German Riesling Kabinett. German Riesling is light and fresh, and Kabinett is a grade of wine that is slightly sweet, but not too sweet. It can be floral and like a handful of fresh grapes.

Austrian Riesling, New York Riesling, and Washington State Riesling. Occasionally as good as the best German Rieslings, Austrian Rieslings are good values, and the best New Yorkers and Washingtonians, although not cheap, can be shockingly good.

Alsace Riesling. Similar to German Riesling, but often a bit more complex from aging in wood barrels.

Alsace Pinot Blanc. Refreshing, tart, complex, with just a hint of sweetness.

Alsace Pinot Gris and Oregon Pinot Gris. Light and tart. Steer away from California Pinot Gris. It is usually dull and boring.

French Rhone whites, American Viognier, American Rousanne, and American Marsanne. These are bigger wines, richer, complex, but rarely too sharp or harsh. Often reminiscent of tropical fruits.

Rosé and other pink wines. These wines are very refreshing and delightful. Alas, most are too sweet. But if you can find a good one that is off-dry, it will go well with your meal.

Drier wines

If your guests are into wine and prefers them bone dry, and if your meal is more savory than sweet:

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. I love these wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and white wines from Bordeaux, but they are usually bone dry, and are not great matches to all the sweet stuff. If your meal is mostly savory, and your guests winos, go this route.

Pinot Noir and French Burgundy. The best of these are expensive, but they can be lighter than Cabernet and Merlot, and more tart, making them great foils for rich savory foods.

Click here for some websites that are good sources of specific wine recommendations.

Talking turkey trivia

A mature male is a tom, a female is a hen, an immature male is a jake, an immature female is a jenny. Some people believe hens are slightly more tender than toms, but because most turkeys are slaughtered when young, usually 4 to 5 months old, there is no noticeable difference according to taste tests by Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

Wild turkeys can fly short distances to escape hunters. They can run fast, too. Domestic turkeys are too heavy to fly.

The old saw that turkeys are so stupid that they will look up in a rainstorm and drown is a myth. They can, however, be drowned in gravy.

The flap of skin on top of the beak is a snood, the flap under the beak is the wattle.

The gizzard can contain stones to help the turkey with digestion.

Turkeys are native to North America. They were exported to Europe in the 16th century.

Stop blaming the tryptophan. The reason you fall asleep after dinner is not because of tryptophan in the turkey. Turkey doesn’t have much more of this essential amino acid than other meats. According to research, the ratio of tryptophan to food in turkey is about the same as in pork chop, chicken, salmon, beef, or lamb chops. You fall asleep because you are exhausted from cooking, cleaning, inlaws, chasing kids, stuffing your face, drinking, and watching the poor pitiful Lions.

Turkeys are nervous, but like being stroked and cuddled. Just like us.

Ben Franklin and the national bird. Was he serious about turkey?

It is often said that Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) preferred the turkey to the eagle as our national bird, but it is not clear that he was serious. The notion comes from a letter he wrote to his daughter, Sarah Franklin Bache (1768-1807), on January 26, 1784, two years after the eagle was named the national bird. In the letter he is critical of the eagle’s habits and the artwork depicting it, perhaps mocking the fact that it took six years for Congress to chose a national bird. It sounds to me as if Franklin, known for his wit, was exercising it well:

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward…

“I am, on this account, not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turky. For in truth, the Turky is in comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

Here’s the set-up for deep frying a turkey.

If you must fry it

Frying a turkey is fast, captures a lot of moisture in the meat, and produces really crisp skin. It is also a great way to burn down your house or put you in the hospital. I don’t think fried turkey is as tasty as our grilled turkey recipe or smoked turkey recipe, so I don’t recommend it and I will not share a recipe for it, but as a safety precaution for those of you who insist on taking the risk, above is a photo from the nice folks at ThermoWorks showing the proper way to do it.

146 thoughts on &ldquoSmoked Brined Turkey&rdquo

Potentially stupid question: Do the potatoes do anything to help season the turkey? If the idea is to cook the potatoes so you can eat them as a side dish, then I’ll just skip that part, because we won’t eat them. Thanks.

The potatoes act as a side dish and can be skipped if you would prefer.

I’m doing just a turkey breast. Any major issues with this recipe for just a breast?

No, I’ve done a dozen bone-in turkey breasts this way and each one has come out perfect.
You will just have more brine than you need for what you are doing.

I have always smoked my Turkey at 225 degrees/25 mins per pound. However, I am seeing more and more recipes that call for 325 degrees / 15 mins per pound. What is believed to be the best temp to achieve the best taste and moistness? Thanks, Steve S

Once the bird reaches 160 degrees F, remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 1 hour. Carve and serve. Easy Main Dish Main Dish Thanksgiving Turkey Poultry Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes Brined Turkey Smoked Turkey Roast Recipes Honey Recipes

The recipe says to brine for 12 hours, does it make any difference to brine for 24 hours? Thanks

Recipe Summary

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 3/4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) whole Butterball turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed

Stir together all dry rub ingredients in a bowl set aside.

Whisk together all vinegar-cayenne mopping sauce ingredients in a large bowl set aside.

Pat turkey dry with paper towels, and place turkey, breast side up, on a large cutting board. Using a chef&rsquos knife, carefully cut turkey breast in half lengthwise, cutting straight through breastbone. Open up turkey, and press to flatten pat inside dry with paper towels. Sprinkling from about 12 inches above work surface, coat turkey on all sides with dry rub do not rub in seasoning. Place turkey, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature while grill preheats, up to 2 hours.

Prepare a charcoal fire in a grill or smoker according to manufacturer&rsquos instructions. Place oak wood chunks on coals, and fit grill with an aluminum foil&ndashlined diffuser, such as convEGGtor. Maintain internal temperature at 225°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Smoke turkey, skin side up, covered with lid, until meat around ends of drumsticks pulls back and reveals the turkey&rsquos &ldquosocks&rdquo and a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 145°F, about 2 hours.

Generously mop 1 1/2 cups mopping sauce on skin side of turkey. Using long tongs and reaching as far under the bird as possible, carefully flip turkey skin side down. (Underside of turkey should be dark mahogany brown and evenly speckled with charred bits.) Generously mop with remaining 21/2 cups sauce. When sauce begins to pool in cavity, insert tip of tongs into exposed breast meat and gently twist to allow sauce to soak into meat. Continue to mop until all of sauce is absorbed. Close grill, and smoke until skin side is lightly charred and a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 155°F, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer turkey to a large cutting board carve immediately, or let rest up to 2 hours.