Smoking your Holiday Turkey

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to start putting together your holiday menu. It goes without saying that the focal point of that meal will be the beautiful, perfectly browned turkey in the center of your table. Since everyone will be looking forward to that first bite of turkey, really give them a gift by smoking it. When you smoke a turkey, you do so slowly at a low, indirect temperature. This allows for the meat to become more tender and absorb all the delicious smoke flavor along with the seasonings and spices you add.  Smoking your turkey is easier than you think. My video walks you through the entire process from setting up your smoker, to preparing your bird. Trust me, your family and friends will be requesting a smoked turkey more than once a year!

What are your thoughts? (36)

11.28.14

Chris G

Kevin,
Just stopping by to thank you for your video! With the help of your video I was able to smoke our bird on a Weber kettle 22.5 and it was amazing.

I found maintaining a constant temp was a bit of a challenge but overall I was able to keep the temps in the range of 250-300. My 18lb turkey was done in about 5 1/2 hours.

The skin ended up being black, which made me nervous (it tasted good though). I used a cheesecloth for the first 2.5 hours...what adjustment could I make to ensure a brown skin next time?

Thanks
Chris

11.28.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Chris,

Glad you liked the video and that you learned some new turkey tips. Next time, you can leave the cheese cloth on the turkey for a little longer. Also, be sure the cheese cloth is wet. The black color is very much controlled by the amount of smoke in the unit. Keep us posted on how the next one turns out.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.27.14

David K

Hi Kevin,
I am using a WSM to smoke my turkey this year but I was going to use my A-Maze-N smoker tray instead of chunks. In addition, the temperature forecast is to be in the high teens to low 20's during my smoking window. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
David K

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi David,

Try using at least a chimney and a half of unlit coals with a half chimney of lit coals on top when starting the unit. This will ensure you do not run out of fuel. Also, do not forget to set timers and stay disciplined with watching them. The more you open that lid, the more the temperature will be driven down. Lastly, be sure to check the temperature of your bird half way though the process to be sure you are on the right track. Most important, enjoy!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.27.14

Aaron K

Hi Kevin, smoking a turkey on the Weber 22.5 Smoker. I like the video and have done a brine with apples, oranges, and onions inside while using a moistened cheese cloth for the first half. Do I need to flip turkey at all during the smoke? Thanks Kevin!!

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Aaron,

It sounds like you are on the right track. Try cooking the bird upside down for the first half and then flipping it half way through. This should give you great results, but the flip is optional. Either way, be sure to remove the cheese cloth half way though. Hope this helps!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Jim C

Hi Kevin,

I have an 18 1/2" Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker which I got for my birthday earlier this year. I love it! I am planning to smoke a 14 lb turkey tomorrow. My first time smoking a turkey. I have a question regarding brining. My turkey has an 8% solution in it. Should I still brine it? I can't wait to get it going!

Thanks,
Jim

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Jim,

Now that is a great birthday present! Lucky you! Yes, you can still brine the turkey. It will increase moisture and flavor. Try to plan for about 15-18 minutes per pound when you smoke at around 275-300 degrees. If you have any questions on Thanksgiving, you can find me on Facebook at Kevin's Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Mike H

Kevin,

I plan on using my WSM to cook a brined 20 lb. turkey, but I'm only using charcoal (no wood chips as we don't want smoked turkey). Should I still use the cheese cloth for half the cooking time or is that just to keep the smoke from turning the turkey skin too dark when using wood chips.

Thanks,

Mike

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Mike,

Great question. I would suggest using a cheese cloth even if you aren't smoking your turkey. It will always help to guarantee a golden brown color on the outside of the turkey. Just remember that the turkey will probably be close to 24 pounds after it is brined, so it will take a little longer to cook with the additional weight. If you have any questions on Thanksgiving day, you can find me on Facebook at Kevin's Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Mark L

Kevin,

I want to smoke 2 turkeys at one time, is this OK to do?

Mark

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

HI Mark,

This is okay to do as long as you are on a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker. Keep in mind that the bottom grate is about 15-20 degrees hotter than the top grate. That being said, make sure you rotate the turkeys half way though the process. Also, be sure that you have enough fuel. There is nothing worse than running out of fuel before your meal is finished. If you have any questions the day of Thanksgiving, you can find me on Facebook at Kevin's Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

David A

Hi Kevin, I just bought the 18.5" smoker yesterday and am planning to smoke a 15lb turkey. In your video you say a 20# bird will take around 6hrs, but in the user manual it says a 12-18lb bird will take around 10 hrs...can you give some tips to help me get a better idea on timing? I'm not looking forward to getting up at 4AM if I don't have to. Thanks -D

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi David,

Congratulations on the new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker. Here are my thoughts… a 15 pound turkey will take you about 5-6 hours. Because the cavity is open, it will cook a little quicker than a normal piece of full protein. Be sure to keep the temperature around 275-300 degrees and look at about 15-18 minutes per pound. That is usually the rule of thumb that I've gone by in the past. If you have any questions on Thanksgiving day, you can find me on Facebook at Kevin's Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Rick H

Kevin

I'm smoking brisket along with my turkey. Any suggestions? I originally planned on putting the turkey on middle rack (oh...BTW I'm using 22.5 Smokey Mountain Smoker...love it!) but now see the advantage of having turkey on top rack.

Also, still unclear about drip pan under turkey. Up to now everything I've smoked has been directly on grates.

Rick

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Rick,

Wow! That sounds great! I do brisket and turkey for my family on Thanksgiving as well. Place the turkey on the bottom grate so you do not have the turkey drippings on the brisket. That would not be good! If you want, you can always put the turkey in a roasting pan as well. However, the water pan below will do the same thing as a roasting pan, so you can stick to putting the turkey directly on the grate if you prefer that method. If you have any questions the day of Thanksgiving, find me on Facebook at Kevin’s Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Bob C

Thanks for the reply Kevin. I was getting a little uneasy because I've seen on other sites that a bird of that size (20#) could take 12-14 hours and something about a "danger zone" etc... I'll keep an eye on the temp, I'm in the northeast and expect it to be in the 30s, so I will keep the smoker fueled. What did you mean by the "cavity will be open"?

11.26.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Bob,

Most meats you smoke, like brisket or pork shoulder, take a very long time to cook from the outside in because they are one solid mass. Turkeys are not one big mass because the cavity in the middle is open. This means that it will cook faster than a typical solid protein. The 12-14 hour time frame would be way too long to cook a turkey of this size. The longer the bird is on the grill, the more moisture you will lose. This is why turkeys can come out dry when they are overcooked. If you have any other questions the day of Thanksgiving, you can find me on Facebook at Kevin’s Backyard.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.26.14

Michael S

Kevin, where can I find the recipe for turkey gravy made from a smoked turkey? Thanks

Sunny Redd

11.25.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Sunny,

Check out this link for a great recipe: http://www.weber.com/recipes/poultry/smoked-turkey-with-creamy-sherry-gravy

You can follow almost any recipe for gravy, but then add the drippings from the smoked turkey. To collect these drippings, place a large drip pan underneath the turkey while it is cooking. Then add the drippings to the gravy after the turkey has come off the grill. It will provide an excellent flavor boost!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin