The "Cookin' Cousins'" smoked turkey recipe could clinch your backyard barbecue fame. Let's start with our easy, step-by-step method for smoking a turkey.
This is one of our favorite methods to roasting a whole turkey, and we do it any time of the year! Bargain prices, during the holidays, lets us buy several of these wonderful birds for smoking a turkey any time we feel a hankerin' for America's favorite fowl. Let's start with...
You can review these in detail at our "6 Secrets to Smoking Meat".
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).
Meat Buy the best bird your budget allows! But worry not. They all taste wonderful with our smoked turkey recipe. Go to Secret #1 for more on this.
Spices Use a rub to infuse your bird with wonderful flavors. Not mandatory (as we believe the smoke is the magic), however spices can significantly enhance the results of slow roasting a turkey. You can put together your own with any combination of these basic fresh ingredients:
Or you can try our Magic Turkey Rub. This wonderful turkey rub recipe uses Italian seasoning herbs, and Smoked Paprika, to greatly enhance your spice rack's common rub ingredients.
Apply the rub under, and on the skin. Also apply liberally in the cavity.Go to Secret #2 for more on this.
Smoker The vertical "wet-pan" type is the most popular backyard smoker, so we wrote this smoked turkey recipe from our experience with this fun cooker. You can buy these wonders at any "big box" store, hardware store, or try the garage/yard sales for a real bargain! Our favorite, economical, easy to use backyard smoker, is the vertical propane model or its stainless steel vertical smoker brother.
Charcoal/charcoal briquettes There are advantages to both fuels, however just one maxim applies to both...buy the best you can find. Kingsford brand briquettes top the list for quality, and availability. But please don't buy the "instant light" of any brand! Real charcoal (for you purists) can be difficult to find, and rather expensive, however...
We have found a great resource, reasonably priced, from Milazzo Industries. Their 20LBS of Lump Charcoal is a bargain.
Hardwood chips/chunks When smoking turkey (or any meat in a smoker), use only seasoned (never "green") hardwood chips/chunks like Hickory, Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, fruit woods, etc., to suit your taste. These are generally available during the summer, wherever barbecue accessories are sold. Never use softwoods such as the conifers fir, pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, oleander,etc. Many trees and bushes/shrubs are toxic to humans, so stay with the known traditional woods used by the experienced "smokers".
Oven/Grill thermometer To ensure your success with our smoked turkey recipe, this tool is the only way you will really know what's going on inside your smoker! Our two favorites are the Taylor Connoisseur Oven Thermometer. , and the Taylor Precision 5932 Classic Oven Thermometer.They are both very accurate, durable (stainless steel), and exceptionally reasonable in price.
Instant Read probe-type thermometer This is fowl! Be safe and ensure the meat has reached the temperatures stated in our recipe. Our "hands down" choice for speed of read, accuracy, and price, is the CDN Proaccurate Stainless Digital Thermometer. The only instant-read thermometer that that we know to be faster, and another choice of professionals (albeit rather expensive), is the Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen - Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
Insulated Food Gloves These things are fantastic for handling the finished bird! There are many food handling gloves out there, however we have found these insulated barbecue gloves exceptionally well designed, and very easy to clean!
Chimney-type charcoal starter Sure makes starting and maintaining the coals much easier. Our favorite top performer is the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Lot of chimney starters out there, but this is the champ.
Turkey Cannon Cook your turkey in half the time? Really sweet, juicy white meat? Yep! You can smoke, grill, or oven bake, an exceptionally succulent bird, with this ingenious tool. Our smoked turkey recipe can easily be adapted for this method. We love it! An extremely easy way to roast your bird to perfection every time. The Turkey Cannon's unique infuser allows you to use your favorite beverage (wine, beer, apple juice, etc.) to infuse the bird with moisture, and the flavors, of any added herbs or spices.
Want to see how it works? Click here to download the instructions...Turkey Cannon Instructions
NOTE: Turkey should be always kept in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4°C) before preparation.
Do not stuff the bird! No smoked turkey recipe should ever include stuffing the bird. It takes too long for the stuffing to reach the 165°F/74°C required for safe cooking. The bird stays too long in the "Danger Zone" of 40-140°F/4.4-60°C (bacteria heaven!).
NOTE: If you use a charcoal fired smoker, soak 3-4 cups of (dry) chips/chunks for about 30 minutes, drain and place them directly on the coals, once the smoker has reached cooking temperature. This will be sufficient for the entire cooking period, regardless of the addition of more coals. Too much smoke = bitter and nasty! Control the temperature with the bottom vents only. The top vent should always remain wide open and never used to control air intake. Each cooker is different so... experience rules!
NOTE: Always use mitts and tongs! Never use the forked, sharp, pokey thing that seems to come with all backyard barbecue tool sets. It will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.
When the temperature (inside the smoker at the grill) has reached 250-300°F/121-149°C...
With this smoked turkey recipe, the smell alone will drive them nuts. Add your wonderful side dishes, say your prayer, and brace up for the accolades!
Have a gas or charcoal grill? Yes, you can smoke a turkey on your favorite backyard cooker. Just follow our tried and true method!