Smoking Your Holiday Turkey

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s been a while since I have posted, but this is the only time of year where my attention turns away from BBQ and towards hunting. But for my fellow hunters out there, I plan to post a few venison recipes I am working on in the next few weeks… so you can look for that if your interested.

Now… let’s talk BBQ…

Every holiday I am responsible for the turkey. And I have tried about every method there is… roasting it, deep frying it… but I have NEVER received more compliments and NEVER had a turkey turn out as moist and delicious as when I smoke it.

If you have the smoker and want to give it a try, I promise you will not be disappointed. And I promise you it’s even better than fried turkey.

You will need:

  • 10-12 Lb Whole Turkey (fresh or thawed)
  • Creole Butter Injection (the one by Tony Chachere is my personal favorite and you can find it at most grocery stores or Bass Pro Shop)
  • Cooking Spray
  • A good Dry Rub or Tony’s Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning (if you want a cajun flavor)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • I like to brine my turkeys for 24 hours prior to smoking. If you want to skip the brine, it will turn out just fine. I do think that the brine creates a moister turkey and I highly recommend it if you have the time.

    Brine for Smoked Turkey:

  • 2 Gallons of Water
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Kosher Salt
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Dark Molasses
  • 1 Cup of Honey
  • 1/2 Cup BBQ Dry Rub
  • 2 TBS Whole Black Pepper Corns
  • 4 Whole Bay Leafs
  • Bring 1 quart of the water to a boil and add the other ingredients to dissolve. Allow to cool completely.

    Place the turkey in a large plastic bag then place it in a cooler. (If you can find the XL storage Ziplock bags, they will work the best… but in a pinch I have used a new kitchen trash bag)

    Pour the brine over the turkey and add the other 3 quarts of water. Make sure you have the bag already in cooler because it makes this process a lot easier. The turkey should be submerged in the liquid.

    Now you just have to keep your turkey cold for 24 hours.. so you will need some ice and you will need to replenish the ice as it melts. If it’s cold outside I always keep my cooler in my garage… this just keeps the ice from melting as fast.

    Of course, if you have a big enough pot you can skip the bag and the cooler and just put the turkey straight into your refrigerator, but my wife isn’t willing to give up that much space in our frig this time of year.

    Now that your turkey has brined for 24 hours, it’s time to wash it. You want to make sure you wash it very good and remove any pieces inside the cavity and neck.

    Once you have the bird washed and paper towel dried, it’s time to inject. I normally use ½ of the jar of injection but you can use the entire thing if you want. Spread out the injection sights and be sure to concentrate on the thighs and legs. I usually hit the breast at the top, bottom and middle. The wings aren’t that important.

    Once injected, spray the entire turkey with the cooking spray and apply your rub. (I like to use my own BBQ rub or a Cajun Seasoning).

    Cut up your apple and your onion into quarters and place inside the cavity of the bird. Let your bird come to room temp (about 30 – 45 minutes) and then it’s time for it to go on the smoker.

    Your smoker needs to be up to operating temp (225) and then you can place the turkey on a rack – breast side up. It normally takes about 6 hours to get it to the proper internal temp, but as you know some cookers cook differently.

    Different people will tell you to cook your turkey to all different temps… some say 165, 170 or even 185. Really, it’s a personal preference, but as long as you get it to 165 it will be done (especially if it’s a 10-12 lb bird). Larger birds may need to go to higher temps but 185 would be way too much in my opinion. If you can grab the leg and it feels like it’s coming off, it’s done.


  • You can baste your turkey with apple juice every few hours, but it’s not necessary.
  • I let my turkey smoke for 2 hours, then check my coals and then take a look-see at the bird. If it looks dark, give it a good spray. If it looks fine, check it out in another 45 min. or so.
  • Keep a good smoke on it the entire time and start checking the internal temp after 3 ½ hrs. If you do notice that the turkey is getting darker than you want it, Take a big piece of aluminum foil and tent the bird. This will keep it from getting any darker.
  • Remove the turkey once you get it to the proper internal temp and allow it to rest before carving. If you don’t let it rest, all of the juice will run out when you start carving resulting in a dry turkey.
  • And as always, if you have any questions just email me!

    If you need a good BBQ Rub Recipe, ckick the link.

    Malcom Reed
    Killer Hogs BBQ
    Email me at

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