5 Tips For A Smoking Turkey Like a Pro
Written by Charlie from Simply Meat Smoking
Preparing a good smoked turkey is a skill that will impress all your guests! Whether you wanna whip out a wild card on Christmas or try something different on Thanksgiving, this article can help you do that.
Always Bring Your Turkey Up to Room Temperature
It is important when smoking a turkey to take time to prepare it properly. If your starting with a frozen turkey, give the turkey several days to thaw out completely in the refrigerator.
Never thaw a turkey at room temperature, alternatively, it can be thawed in a sink or tub of cool water below forty degrees.
To finish preparing the turkey, trim off fat and remove giblets and neck from the body cavity and underside of the neck skin. Rinse the turkey inside and out before separating the skin from the breast area.
Using The Right Time And Temperature
For a Whole Turkey
Generally, turkeys are cooked whole to impress, the rule of thumb for smoking a whole turkey is 20 minutes at 300°F per pound of turkey. However, that is the faster method
If you wish to smoke your turkey low and slow, they recommend smoking your turkey at 225°F for 25-30 minutes for every 1 pound of turkey. This will leave you will a juicy deliciously smoky bird.
Once your turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165°F, is safe to serve.
You will want to make sure you have an internal instant-read thermometer to avoid overcooking it. Different parts of the turkey cook at different speeds, so make sure you’re checking the temperature in the thigh and breast. I
f you are smoking on a charcoal or gas grill they may be hot spots, so always check the temp in a few spots of the turkey!
Once you have a reading of at least 165°F in all the spots you check you can remove it from the smoker. Allow your turkey to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving it.
If the turkey is ready but your guests’ arent, you can cover it with foil. You may find that the skin loses its crispness. You can put it over the broiler for a few minutes before serving and the skin will crisp back up.
For a Turkey Breast
Beneficial to know when cooking for yourself only, you will want to follow 225 degrees for 30 minutes per 1 pound of turkey. The low-fat content of the breast makes it important to add moister in the cooking process. So don’t skip out on the brine and dry rub steps even for just a turkey breast.
Don’t Forget to Dry Brine Your Turkey!
For a bird that requires a long process of defrosting and preparation, a dry brine is the best option if you are under a time constraint.
A dry brine consists of salts, seasonings, and/or sugar rubbed directly onto the meat of the skin. Once the turkey has its brine, it must also be refrigerated.
The next step is to use a paper towel or a rinse in the sink to remove most of the salt from the brine before cooking.
Give Your Turkey a Dry Rub!
A dry rub can lack moisture, so we recommend always using some butter to it!
For the rub, use softened butter to bind these spices into a paste:
- onion salt
- garlic salt
- Spices of your choice (such as thyme, rosemary, and sage
- chili powder (if lke some heat)
- Worcestershire sauce
- fresh ground pepper
This is a general spice mix that can be substituted with spices/seasonings of your choice.
Choosing The Right Wood Chips
This step may come down to personal preference, but we think pecan wood chips pair perfectly with the turkey.
The lighter sweeter wood of pecan adds a delicious light flavor to the richness of the seasonings. It also aids in balancing out the intensity of smoking. While pecan is our preferred choice, other light-sweet woods include cherry and applewood chips.
However, you are welcome to use whatever wood your palate is accustomed to, whether that be hickory, mesquite, cherry, apple, or pecan chips, the choice is in your hands.
These cooking tricks are sure to put out any fowl moods! On that note, I hope you are confident to step into your kitchen and get that turkey prepped with these five tips.
Don’t be shy and try the steps out, you will be amazed at how much difference the right way through preparation, brine, rub, temperature, time and the selecting of wood chips can do! You and your delighted guests will just want to Gobble, Gobble away!