How to Smoke a Turkey

Thanksgiving is synonymous with food. Every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, we eat a delicious holiday meal to celebrate our friends and family. It’s a national tradition. With that in mind, why would you, the grill master of your domain, sit idly by and risk a whole turkey getting dried out in the oven when you have a perfectly good Pit Boss® Grill and Smoker sitting right outside? That’s right, you shouldn’t. Not this year. So we’re here to help teach you how to smoke a turkey, perfectly.

Let’s make the star of your Thanksgiving dinner this year be a wood fire smoked turkey.

Smoking vs. Roasting Turkey

What are the benefits of smoking your bird? Glad you asked.

Turkey, by composition, is a delicate meat because it doesn’t feature a lot of connective tissue or fat. Because of this, it will dry out and darken quickly but will also absorb flavors much more easily than other types of meat. That said, your bird may require some added attention and care, but is nonetheless the ideal meat to soak up the rich, smokey flavor your wood pellet smoker can provide.

What Will I Need?

Pit Boss 13.0 oz Champion Chicken

How Do I Smoke my Turkey?

Now that we know what we need and why we’re doing it, let’s get to work on becoming Thanksgiving legends and make our delicious smoked turkey. Follow these easy steps:

1. Thaw the turkey

The first and among the most important steps in smoking our turkey will be to make sure your bird isn’t frozen. The general rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours of thaw time in the refrigerator for every five pounds your turkey weighs. For this recipe, which calls for a 12-14 turkey, you should allow for three to four days for it to completely defrost.

2. Brining the turkey

The next step in your Thanksgiving adventure is to brine your turkey. Brining is essential for your turkey to maintain moisture and become juicy and tender during the smoking process. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the brine helps turkey, a traditionally lean meat, retain fat content while it is cooking and prevents it from drying out.

A brining kit makes this process incredibly simple. A good brining kit comes equipped with a bag to put everything in, a brining mixture and seasoning for the turkey. To brine your turkey, add the brining mixture and four cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully add this to one gallon of cold water and place into the bag with the turkey. Close the bag and refrigerate for 1 hour per pound of turkey. We strongly recommend completing this process the night before you plan on preparing your meal.


3. Smokin’ the bird

After the turkey has been brined, rinse it with cool water and pat it dry. Coat the outside skin of the bird with your desired seasoning, whether that’s your favorite from the store, your own home blend or what came with the brining kit.

After your turkey has been completely prepped, start your Pit Boss® Grill and Smoker and set it to 275°F. Once ready, place it on the smoker and place a temperature probe or digital meat thermometer into the deepest part of the breast. Leave to cook until the breast and thigh meat internal temperature has reached 165°-170°F

Suggested pellet flavors: Pitmaster's Choice, Apple, Pecan, Cherry or Hickory

4. Dinner is served

Now comes the easy part. Once the turkey has reached the desired internal temperature, remove it from the grill and let cool for about 20 minutes. Serve to your guests, and, most importantly, enjoy!


Bring the heat

Looking for a little extra touch of heat this Thanksgiving? Be sure and check out our Sweet Heat Cajun Spatchcock Turkey recipe to spice up your holiday meal.

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