What do you need?
• 1 turkey
• 1 tbsp baking powder*
• 3 tablespoons kosher salt*
• 3 large yellow onions, chopped
• 2 large carrots, chopped
• 2 stalks of celery, chopped
• 2 sprigs thyme
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups chicken broth, water or white wine (or a combination)
*The dry brine produced in these proportions is enough to cover our 16-pound turkey, but if you are cooking a larger turkey, you may need to double the recipe.
• A Kamado Barbecue or smoker
• Wood pellets or charcoal, depending on the fuel needed by your grill or smoker
• 2 cups of wood chips, such as Wildwood Grilling Smoking Chips Sampler Pack
• Probe thermometer
How to smoke a turkey step by step?
Step 1: Marinate the turkey
Put the turkey in the baking dish first, then wipe it with a mixture of baking powder and salt. Although baking powder seems to be a strange ingredient, it helps break down the protein in the turkey skin, making it crispy and brown when cooked. Remember, you may not need all the salt mixture either; you can use it no matter how sticky it is on the outside of the turkey. Put the marinated turkey in the refrigerator without a lid and marinate for 12 to 24 hours or longer. But if you soak for more than 48 hours, to prevent the turkey skin from drying out, you need to lightly cover it with plastic film. When you are ready to smoke roast turkey, you do not need to rinse the salt water, you can rub the skin of the turkey with oil and herbs, or you can throw it directly into the smoker.
Step 2: Prepare the wood chips
Sawdust needs to be soaked for about an hour. This step is not entirely necessary-you can throw them directly from the bag on the smoker. But soaking them first will produce higher quality smoke, because wet wood chips will smoulder rather than burn. This will provide you with longer, denser smoke, and you don’t have to reload them into the smoker multiple times during the smoking process.
You only need about two cups of wood chips, and you can choose any type of wood you like. We recommend choosing pecans because it has a sweet, bacon-like flavor. Fruit trees (such as apples or cherries) are also good choices.
Step 3: Ignite the smoker
When the wood chips are ready, it’s time to light the smoker. No matter what type of smoker you use, make sure you have enough propane, wood pellets or charcoal for three to five hours of use.
We added lumpy charcoal to the kamado bbq smoker and layered the soaked wood chips across the coal seam. After using some starter cubes to start heating the coal, we waited until they became hot and there was a layer of ashes on top. Then, we added a thermal deflector, closed the lid, and adjusted the bottom vent to let just enough air into the grill to maintain a temperature of 325°F.
Step 4: Add the turkey
If you want to use turkey drips to make gravy, place the turkey in a large roasting pan (first make sure the roasting pan is suitable for the smoker). Add any optional aromatic ingredients to your gravy, such as onions, carrots, and celery.
Finally, insert the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast—near the place where the meat connects to the breastbone, but do not touch the bone itself. Place the turkey on the smoker and close the lid. When the thermometer reaches 165°F (or 175°F, if you are probing the thigh), this turkey is done! At these temperatures, it takes about 12 minutes per pound of turkey.
Step 5: Let it rest
This is the hardest but most important part of meat cooking: After the turkey is cooked, remove it from the smoker, let it sit for at least 30 to 45 minutes, and then slice it. If you cut it right away, all those delicious internal juices will not have a chance to redistribute in the meat and will overflow on the cutting board.