Smoked Turkey

This will be quick and dirty without my usual preamble. This recipe was given to me by a family friend, Dyann, over ten years ago and have used it almost every year since using a traditional oven. This was my first attempt at a smoked turkey so adapted the oven-based recipe as I saw fit to make it work.


  • Poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 box of coarse kosher salt (original recipe calls for 1 full box)
  • ~10lbs of ice
  • super cold tap water
  • a cooler you don’t mind getting smelly and/or will deep clean later
    • I HIGHLY RECOMMEND GETTING A COOLER THAT DOES NOT HAVE A DRAIN SPOUT. I learned this the hard way when I woke up one Thanksgiving morning to find all of the turkey water leaking across the kitchen floor. That wasn’t pleasant.
  • old towels and lots of paper towels


  • Defrost the turkey in the fridge if it was frozen. 4 lbs per day defrost rate is the usual rate for planning purposes.
  • The night before your planned cook, open up the turkey and pull out the giblets, neck, etc. I usually rinse it out with cold tap water while I do this.
  • Fill the cooler with cold water and pour in the half box of kosher salt. Stir to fully dissolve the salt.
  • Drop the turkey into the cooler then put in ice. The ice will melt down over night, make sure to check it the next morning and top it off. I put the ice on top of the turkey so it keeps it submerged (most of the time).
  • Have the towels nearby to wipe up what you spill. You will spill turkey water and/or drip it everywhere.
  • The next morning, flip the turkey over so it gets some brine on the opposite side. Since the turkey floats you’ll likely not get an even brine everywhere. Flipping it the next morning minimizes the chance you’ll end up with no brine on part of the turkey.
  • Get the Egg going at 250-275F indirect, heat deflectors in, and add your wood to the periphery of the charcoal pile. I used a little apple, cherry, and some oak that was left over from the prior cook. Next time I will burn a fresh pile – the oak ruined the flavor in my opinion but my wife loved it. /shrug. Poultry will absorb flavors much more than beef. You want a nice clean smoke so be sure to give the Egg extra time to burn off all the crap from the charcoal before you add the turkey in. I started mine about 60 minutes in advance so it would come up to temp and have a nice clean fire.
  • At the appropriate time, I’m assuming you planned your cook so it’s ready at the time you want, pull your turkey out of the brine, rinse it with cold water, and pat it dry with paper towel. Get it very dry. Stick a wad of paper towel into the cavity to absorb all the water in there. Drain it well.
  • Sprinkle the outside with poultry seasoning. Give it a nice even dusting and rub it on the upside down parts of the bird.
  • Stuff with stuffing. I didn’t have stuffing when I cooked mine, I just left it hollow.
  • Truss the turkey like normal. Bend the wings under the belly and put the legs into the little leg holder flap of skin loop thing. I don’t know the name of it, but you know what I mean.
  • Put the bird on the Egg like you’d ordinarily cook it in the oven. If you want to add some additional flavor, put some celery, onions, or carrots into a drip pan below it. I didn’t this time but will try it out next time.
  • Cook to 165 breast / 180 thigh. I did 12.05 lbs in 4 hours so, unstuffed, plan ~3 lbs per hour. Note, I cranked up the temp a little bit to ~275 at the end to get it done – we were getting hungry.
  • Pull the turkey off the Egg and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. Tent it loosely with some foil while it rests.
  • Carve and enjoy.
Cooked turkey. Nice crispy skin.
A little smoke ring. You can see how juicy it was on the cutting board.

2 thoughts on “Smoked Turkey”

  1. Looks mighty fine. I use cherry most often. Important thing is to just do it, not being intimidated fearing failure.

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