Patience Low and slow is the real secret to that great smoked turkey recipe. We're talking about holding the temperature around 250°F/121°C for an extended cooking period. You should figure about 30 minutes per pound (.45kg).
- Salt (Kosher preferred)
- Paprika (Hungarian much preferred for best flavor)
- Pepper, black (fresh ground!)
- Chili powder
- Garlic, granulate or powder
- Onion powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Poultry seasoning
- Remove the thoroughly thawed turkey from the refrigerator and remove the giblets, neck, and any thing else thrown in the cavity. Clean and rinse the bird thoroughly, especially the cavity. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Remove the pop-up timer! They are virtually worthless.
For gas or electric smokers, place the chips/chunks (pre-soaked in water for 30+ minutes) in the wood chip box/pan. One full box of chips, or 3-4 cups for pan type, will last for several hours, and will be sufficient for the whole cooking time.
Fire-up the cooker and get the temperature to about 250-300°F/121-149°C, and prepare to keep the temperature as steady as you can! For this smoked turkey recipe, maintain the temperature between 235-250°F/113-121°C for the ideal smoked turkey.
When the temperature (inside the smoker at the grill) has reached 250-300°F/121-149°C...
Place turkey(s) in the smoker, directly on the rack, or on a large baking sheet. We do not advise putting the bird in a roasting pan as this has a tendency to steam the turkey. Place a pan on a rack, under the bird, to catch the juices for gravy! Add a cup or two of water, if you wish.
Resist peeking! You're losing precious heat and smoke. Open the lid/door only far enough to add charcoal, and don't tarry!
You have time! If you have judiciously maintained the cooking temperature, you can leave your station several times before the bird(s) are done. For our smoked turkey recipe, think 20-30 minutes a pound to completion.
Using your instant read probe-type thermometer, check the turkey at the inner thigh, looking for 165°F/74°C and check the breast for a temperature of 170°F/77°C. Ensure the thermometer does not touch a bone.
When done, remove turkey to a pan/platter to "rest" for 15-20 minutes before carving. This is an important step to ensure the juices return to the meat. Cover with aluminum foil to assist in holding the heat.