Butter & Herb Smoked Turkey

Butter & Herb Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill

Smoked Turkey Recipe – brined and basted with butter and herbs for the best Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

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Butter & Herb Smoked Turkey

Butter & Herb Smoked Turkey


Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey – brined for 48 hours, stuffed with aromatics and basted every hour with butter and herbs. This pellet grill smoked turkey recipe is perfect for the holidays.


  • 1 bottle Malcom’s Bird Brine
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 whole turkey
  • 2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 stalk celery cut into 23” pieces
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 810 garlic cloves
  • Herb bundle (fresh rosemary, thyme, sage)

Butter Herb Baste

  • 2 sticks melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme


  1. Place turkey in a large meat bag inside a brine bucket or large container (stockpot will work). Pour the bird brine into one gallon of water and whisk. Pour the mixture over the turkey and add the additional water to cover the bird. Close the bag to keep the bird submerged and refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. Remove the turkey from the brine and allow it to drain. Use paper towel to absorb moisture from the cavity and skin. Place the turkey on a wire rack over a sheet pan and air dry in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. Prepare Traeger pellet grill for smoking at 300 degrees using the Turkey Blend pellets for flavor.
  4. Stuff the cavity with celery, onion, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs and 1 stick of butter. Tie the legs together using butcher twine.
  5. Melt one stick of butter and brush over the skin. Combing the Kosher salt, granulated garlic, and poultry seasoning in a shaker. Season the outside of the bird generously with the seasoning mix.
  6. Place the bird on the smoker *tip: keep it on the wire cooling rack to make rotating and moving the bird on/off the grill
  7. Smoke the turkey for one hour and then start basting it with the butter herb mixture every hour.
  8. Insert a probe thermometer at the 2 hour mark to monitor internal temp. Shield with aluminum foil once the skin gets a golden brown color. 9. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees in the breast remove it from the pit and rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

It’s time to nail down that Thanksgiving bird and I my Traeger Butter & Herb Turkey recipe will make you the star of Turkey Day!

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

For this recipe I start with a 17lb bird. Like most turkeys you find in supermarkets it came frozen. I simply put it I the fridge for 4-5 days to allow it to slowly defrost.

Forty eight hours before cook day the seasoning process starts. I use a long soak in a brine to get flavor and moisture all the way down into the meat.

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

For the 2 day soak I used a bottle of my Malcom’s Bird Brine along with cold water…that’s all there is to it. The Turkey goes into a meat bag inside a large brine bucket. Dump the bottle of bird brine in a gallon pitcher filled with water and give it a stir. Pour the mixture over the bird and add a little more water just until the bird is covered. I close the meat bag squeezing air out to keep it submerged. Place the bucket in your refrigerator and forget about it for 48 hours.

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

After the brine carefully take the turkey out of the brine solution and allow it to drain. Use paper towel to absorb as much of the moisture off the skin and out of the cavity. To help the skin dry I place it on a wire rack over a sheet pan and let it hang out in the refrigerator for a couple hours.

Now it’s ready to smoke. For this cook I fired up my Traeger Timberline 1300 pit set at 300 degrees. I smoke turkeys at a little higher temp to help render the fat underneath the skin which helps it almost crisp on the smoker.

While the Traeger is coming up to temperature, I stuff the cavity with celery, onion, lemon, garlic cloves, an herb bundle (fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage) and a whole stick of butter. To hold everything inside the cavity, tie the legs together with butcher twine. This will also help the bird cook more even.

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

Next it’s time for the seasoning. I start by brushing the skin with melted butter and season it generously with a mixture of Kosher salt, granulated garlic and dry poultry seasoning. This is a blend Mike Mills taught me years ago.

Before placing the turkey on the pit I sit it on a wire cooling rack to make rotating and removing from the pit easy. Place the bird on the Traeger and close the lid. For smoke flavor I ran Traeger’s new Turkey Blend pellets. These pellets were designed especially for cooking a delicious bird. They have a mix of hard wood and maple along with a hint of Rosemary.

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

After an hour I start basting the turkey. Melt butter and mix in some finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley. It’s basically a butter herb baste that creates a beautiful and tasty skin. Be sure to drizzle the bird on all sides including the wings and legs.

After two hours baste again and insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part on the breast. Set the target temp for 165 degrees. I also cover the wings loosely with aluminum foil to protect them from getting too dark.

Continue to smoke until the alarm goes off basting with the butter herb mix every hour. Once the skin gets golden brown you can tent the whole turkey with foil.

Butter Herb Smoked Turkey

I reached 165 at about the 4 1/2 hour mark but trust your thermometer don’t go by time alone.

butter herb smoked turkey recipe

Remove it from the smoker and let it rest a few minutes before carving. Once you platter this bird and bring it out to the Thanksgiving table jaws will drop and mouths will water!!! Serve it with your favorite holiday sides and enjoy.

butter herb smoked turkey recipe

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18 responses to “Butter & Herb Smoked Turkey”

  1. Joseph Childers says:

    If we follow this recipe and smoke turkeys on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning…what is the best way to hold them and reheat for Thanksgiving day?

  2. Cliff says:

    Is it okay to brine and/or inject a frozen turkey that has been injected or is self-basting “with a solution of salt, water, & seasonings” etc.? The self-basting turkeys are all that are available here but they never turn out juicy so I’d like to brine and/or inject it before smoking but I don’t want it to turn out too salty.

  3. Cliff W. says:

    Is it okay to brine and/or inject a frozen turkey that is “self-basting” or has been injected/brined with a solution of water, salt, herbs etc? The self basting turkeys are the only ones available here but they never turn out flavorful and juicy so I’d like to brine/inject one but I don’t want it to turn out too salty.

  4. Jimmy says:

    I have the same question. I just purchased 2 jars of bird brine and waiting for them to ship. All of the frozen turkeys are pre brined in a salt solution. How can I ensure a not to salty turkey if i use the bird brine? I brined a frozen turkey before I found out they were soaked in a salt solution. And it was inedible. Any suggestions because it haa become impossible to find a fresh turkey with the supply chain issues?

  5. Sara says:

    How is the cooking time impacted if I’m making two smaller birds (12 lbs each)?

  6. John says:

    After brining for 48 hours should you rinse the turkey before drying?.

    • Daniel Shepard says:

      I have smoked multiple turkeys using Malcom’s recipes and they have all turned out amazing! Typically, I rinse the turkey off after pulling it out of the brine. Not a deep cleaning mind you but rather a simple rinse off. Then I follow exactly what Malcom says to do and they turn out great!

  7. Brenda says:

    Is the 4 1/2 hours total time? or after the Probe is inserted. You have two hours before you inserted the probe. I also have a 17 lb turkey. I love all you vids and instructions. You are my first go to when I need Trager cooking help!

  8. Robert Drake says:

    Made this recipe this year and impressed the entire family. Will be a go to for every holiday bird!

  9. John says:

    Did this for Thanksgiving this year. Only change is that I did my own brine… otherwise just like the recipe. Whole family agreed that is was the best turkey they have had. I agree, it was fantastic!

  10. Matthew Tallman says:

    As usual, Malcolm’s products and recipes are spot on. He has never led me wrong! Cooked two turkeys following this recipe after brining in Malcom’s Bird Brine for 48 hours. Cooked one on the BGE and the other in the oven. BOTH turkeys were the juiciest I have ever tasted and received tons of compliments from my guests. Once again Malcolm is a genius!

  11. LEE G. says:

    Hey Malcolm all your stuff is great. I followed your recipe for this butter herb turkey for thanksgiving. All i can say is that it was the bomb !!!! Melt in your mouth . thanks for all your videos, recipes and products. I have been following ya for a while. Your tips and tricks have improved my smoking greatly.

  12. CHAD says:

    Excellent bird!

  13. Robbie S says:

    Hey Malcom, you asked why we only do this once a year. Well we cooked for Thanksgiving and loved it so much it’s January 16 and we’re doing the exact same thing.

  14. YASUA says:

    Amazing website and Delicious recipes

  15. I have a question after marinating can we freeze it for making after any time.

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