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How To Smoke A Turkey

Posted by Jake Eller on

How To Smoke A Turkey


Hey there, Grillaholics!

We get the same question every year around Thanksgiving time - "How do you smoke a turkey". Well, we're here to help. Follow this simple guide below and you'll be well on your way to the best Thanksgiving feast yet!



  • 1 1/3 cups salt
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 20 sage sprigs, divided
  • 20 thyme sprigs, divided
  • 20 rosemary sprigs, divided
  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 lbs.)
  • 8 handfuls of pecan flavored wood chips*
  • 1 cup of Kentucky bourbon
  • 12oz lager beer
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tub of butter


Step 1: The Brine

In a large stock pot, heat 4 cups of water with the salt and sugar stirring until dissolved, do not boil. Once dissolved, remove from heat and add 6 quartz of cold water, 4 minced garlic cloves, bourbon, beer, peppercorns and half of each the rosemary, thyme and sage.

*For more in depth info on brines, you can check out this handy guide on "How to Brine A Turkey" we created!


Step 2: Prepare the Bird

Discard the leg trusses from the turkey legs and remove the neck, tail and giblets. Rinse the turkey and place into a 5 gallon container. Pour the brine over the turkey and chill, covered, for 8-24 hours.


Step 3: Prepare the Wood Chips and Remove Turkey from Brine

Soak your wood chips in a large bowl of water for 30-45 mins prior to smoking, making sure the chips are completely submerged in the water. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry. Place on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes to allow excess water to drip off the turkey.


Step 4: Prepare the Butter and Citrus Stuffing

Finely chop the leaves from the remainder of the rosemary, sage and thyme and mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves. Mix herbs and garlic into the butter, well, until incorporated. Cut all citrus in in 1/8-1/4 inch slices.


Step 5: Slather and Stuff Your Bird

Using ½ herb butter mixture, completely coat inside and outside of turkey with your hands, (reserve the other half of the butter mixture for the dinner rolls). Stuff turkey with the citrus and skewer close. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.


Step 6: Prepare the Grill

Preheat your gas grill for indirect, low heat (250-300 degrees) and set an aluminum drip pan under the grill grate (fill halfway with water to help retain moisture while smoking). Drain the wood chips and fill your smoker box directly on top of the charcoal (for charcoal grill) or flame rods (for gas grill), or place directly on top of grill grates. Wait 15-20 minutes for smoke to produce before you start smoking. Once you have a good smoke going and your thermometer reads 250-300, you’re ready to smoke your turkey!


Step 7: Smoking the Turkey

Set your turkey on the grill grates breast side up directly over the drip pan. Close the grill lid, cook and smoke over low indirect heat. This process will take a few hours, so you'll want to check in every once in a while to make sure your temperatures are holding. The smoker box will need to have new wood added every 45-60 minutes as well.

Smoke the turkey until the internal temperature has reached 160. This may take 2-4 hours.


Step 8: Let Your Bird Rest

Once the turkey has reached 160 degrees, remove it from the grill and place on a large platter, cover and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes in a warm place before carving.


Step 9: Slice and Eat 

  1. Remove the legs and thighs. Cut through the skin that connects the breast and the drumstick.
  2. Remove the drumsticks.
  3. Remove the wishbone.
  4. Remove turkey breasts.
  5. Remove the wings.
  6. Slice the thigh meat.
  7. Slice the breast meat.


Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas - and as always: Happy Grilling!