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A sliced whole turkey on a white serving platter garnished with cranberries and rosemary
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5 from 1 vote

Smoked Turkey

How to make the juiciest, smoked turkey! This easy recipe is perfect for beginners and uses dry-brining to make a tender and moist turkey.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Dry-Brining2 d
Total Time2 d 36 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
Calories: 685kcal

Ingredients

  • 15 lb farm-fresh turkey
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 Tbsp kosher salt about 1 tsp per pound

Instructions

  • Combine chopped herbs and kosher salt. Rub mixture all over the turkey, including the cavity.
  • Place turkey in a bag and seal tight or put in a large enough plastic container and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, then unwrap and let sit in the fridge unwrapped for another 12 to 24 hours.
  • On the day you want to cook the turkey, preheat your smoker to 180 degrees F.
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast up. Transfer to smoker and smoke for 4 hours.
  • After 4 hours, increase the temperature to 325 degrees F and cook the turkey for about 2 more hours until it has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh (temperature will go up while the turkey rests). Tent the turkey if needed.
  • Take the turkey out of the smoker and let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Notes

  • If you are using a frozen turkey make sure you plan enough time for your turkey to thaw! It needs about one day in the fridge for every 5 pounds of turkey to defrost completely.
  • We use a Traeger Ironwood 650 (affiliate link) pellet grill and love it!
  • The longer you dry-brine the better the turkey! Dry-brining makes the turkey moist and tender and keeps the skin from drying out and getting leathery during smoking.
  • Use a disposable aluminum roasting pan. Less clean up and it is usually more compact and fits better into a smoker.
  • Don't wash the turkey before dry-brining it! It's not necessary and will only contaminate your sink.
  • Use a meat thermometer and always go by temperature, not time! Smoking times vary depending on your smoker, outside temperature, size of the turkey, etc.
  • The government recommends cooking turkey breast to 165°F, but in my experience, it's best to only cook it to 160°F and then let it rest. The temperature will still go up while the turkey rests and the meat will be juicy and not overcooked.
  • Let the turkey rest after cooking so it is moist and juicy and not overcooked.
  • If the skin gets too dark during the last hour of cooking cover the bird with a large piece of aluminum foil.
  • Use the pan drippings to make the gravy while the turkey rests.
  • Depending on the size of your turkey and your smoker cooking time can vary slightly always make sure the meat is fully cooked before serving.
  • Use the super smoke feature on your Traeger for extra smoke flavor!
  • I don't recommend stuffing the turkey. The low smoke temperature is not ideal for stuffing and the bird will cook faster without it.
  • Different sized turkey: Smoke time stays the same (4 hours) but cooking time after increasing the temperature will change, check out the table below
Cooking Time after increasing the temperature
10-14 pounds 1.5-2 hours
15-20 pounds 2-3 hours
20-25 pounds 3-3.5 hours
26-30 pounds 3.5-4.5 hours

Nutrition

Calories: 685kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 105g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 348mg | Sodium: 3332mg | Potassium: 1103mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 416IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 5mg