Inside: Keep reading to find out the best and easiest way to make a smoked turkey that everyone will love on Thanksgiving and beyond. Just want to smoke the breast? Check out this recipe from Slowpoke Cooking.
One of my favorite holidays here in the United States is Thanksgiving. Not only is it awesome to be able to dedicate a whole day to being thankful, but it is a great opportunity to eat some delicious food as well!
I remember being so surprised at how much food there was at my first Thanksgiving. It was so much to take in, but so good too! I was a bit disappointed with the turkey the first time though, to be honest. In Mexico, when we make turkey it usually is made with a delicious and spicy salsa and stuffed with an amazing filling. Here is a recipe for a Mexican style turkey so you can see for yourself.
For me, the turkey at Thanksgiving was a little bit simple for my tastes, but I know a lot of people like it that way too. A couple of years ago, I got my husband a Traeger wood pellet smoker and we have been using it ever since to make some delicious recipes like this brisket, these ribs, this pulled pork, and these nachos!
Last year for Thanksgiving, we decided have smoked turkey, and it was great! This year, we are going to do it again, but we want to share the recipe with all of you as well.
Which Traeger Should You Get to make this Smoked Turkey?
We have owned two different Traeger Wood Pellet Smokers. The first one was the Traeger Texas Elite 34. It had a ton of space and was great for cooking for a lot of people.
However, it was a slightly older model, so it didn’t have all of the cool features that the newer models have. Earlier this year we got the new Traeger Pro 575 model which includes Traeger’s WiFire feature, which allows you to set and change the temperature and monitor the probe temperature all from your phone! The version we got is the smaller version, so it doesn’t fit as much as some of the bigger ones, but it is perfect for our family. You can pick up the Pro 575 or 780 here.
You can also upgrade and get the larger pro version as well if you need the extra space.
How to Prepare the Turkey For the Smoker.
We purchased our turkey about 4 days before we planned on cooking it and put it straight in the refrigerator to defrost. It can take awhile, so plan accordingly. If you already have your turkey, plan on taking it out and starting to defrost at least 3-4 days early so that it isn’t frozen on Thanksgiving morning.
About 24 hours before we started smoking it, we removed the neck and giblets from the bag inside the turkey. We then added the turkey to a 5 gallon bucket with brine to get it ready for the next day. Brining the turkey is required for this process and will ensure that you have a flavorful and juicy bird to serve to your family.
Traeger sells a variety of wood pellets that is specifically made for smoked turkey. The great thing is that it also comes with a brine packet that you can use for the brining step. You can buy the pellets with the brine here.
After the turkey has been in the brine for about 24 hours, you will want to remove it and pat it dry with paper towels. After tying the legs together, we cut a small pocket under the skin covering the breast meat and coated the breasts with butter. In addition, we rub the turkey down with the butter before adding the Traeger rub that comes with the pellets and bring all over it. We also added some of the Traeger Pork & Poultry rub because we found the packet didn’t come with enough.
How to Smoke the Turkey
The process for making a smoked turkey is not very complicated. You will want to follow the steps below to get it just right:
- Preheat the wood pellet smoker to 225 degrees fahrenheit;
- Place the turkey in an aluminum roasting pan and and place on the smoker. Insert the built-in temperature probe (or you can use a standalone one) into the deepest part of the breast.
- Let the turkey smoke at that temperature until it reaches an internal temperature of approximately 110 degrees fahrenheit. This took about 1.5 hours for us.
- Increase the temperature to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees fahrenheit.
- At that point, remove the turkey from the smoker and let rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving. It should have continued cooking after being removed from the grill to a final temperature of 165 degrees)
If you follow the steps above, you will a perfectly juicy and flavorful turkey. I always chop up the leftovers and put them in plastic bags to eat on sandwiches or nachos and more for the next few days.
We couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving, so we made this a few days ago and it was amazing. I hope you enjoy it just as much this year and that your family loves it too!
Let us know in the comments below how it turns out.
Other Thanksgiving Recipes
- Amazing Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- Easy Pecan Pie Recipe
- The Best Homemade Coleslaw Recipe (Easy Too!)
- Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars
- Really Good Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (No-Chilling Necessary)
Smoked Turkey Recipe
- 1 12-15 pound Turkey
- 1 packet Traeger Orange Brine
- 1 packet Traeger Turkey Rub
- 1/4 cup Traeger Pork and Poultry Rub
- 3-4 gallons Water
- 1 stick Butter
- Brine the turkey in a 5 gallon bucket per included instructions
- After 24 hours, remove the turkey and pat dry
- Insert knife under skin covering the breat meat and cover the breasts with butter. Use remaining butter to coat the rest of the turkey
- Add the rubs generously on the outside and the inner cavity of the turkey
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees fahrenheit
- Add turkey to an aluminum roasting pan, and place on smoker.
- Insert a temperature probe.
- Continue cooking until internal temperature reaches about 110 degrees fahrenheit
- Increase temperature to 350 and continue cooking until internal termperature reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit. Remove from the smoker and let rest for 20-30 minutes. Final temperature should be 165 degrees fahrenheit.
- Carve and serve!