Smoked and Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Smoked and Brined turkey

Serving the perfect tasting and perfect looking turkey on Thanksgiving is one of the things that makes this particular Thanksgiving so memorable.
First, start with a turkey that suits your needs. I like one in the 20+ pound range so we get some leftovers for the next few days, plus, we can send some home with our guests. This particular turkey is a 22 pounder purchased frozen for .48 per pound on sale prior to Thanksgiving.


First on the agenda is to brine the turkey using a traditional salt and sugar brine with herbs and spices.

My recipe for the brine
1 cup salt per gallon of water
1 cup brown sugar per gallon of water
1 teaspoon black pepper corns per gallon of water
1 large Bay leaf per gallon of water
1 Tablesoon rubbed sage per gallon of water
1 teaspoon thyme per gallon of water
1 teaspoon coriander seed per gallon of water
Place all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, simmer 1 hour and then cool. Here in Minnesota, we’re usually cool enough in late November so I can put the pot outside overnite to cool. I prepare the brine two days before cook day.

The day before our cook day, we place the turkey in a cooler and fill the cooler with the chilled brine we prepared the day before. I always place a pan filled with ice on top of the turkey to keep the turkey fully submerged in the brine and also to keep the temperature under 38 degrees. Now, we move the cooler outside or into a refrigerator overnite. Breast Down!



Cook day!
Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse thoroughly and stuff the cavity with onions and oranges which are for flavor and keeping the turkey moist during smoking. Rub the outside of the turkey dry with towels, brush with olive oil and thoroughly coat with your dry rub


My dry rub recipe:
1 teaspoon black pepper (coarse)
1 Tablespoon Rubbed Sage
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
We’re ready to place our turkey in the smoker.
Plan on ~30 minutes per pound when smoked @ 225 degrees. A bit less per pound for a smaller bird and bit more per for a larger bird. I allocated 11 hours for this one and it was perfect. If you’re using an electric smoker such as the Cookshack or Smokin Tex, use about 3 ounces of small cut wood chunks. I’m smoking my turkey on the Fast Eddy FEC 100 and using a mix of Pecan and Apple


You’ll notice that I’ve placed a pan under the turkey to catch the juices as the turkey cooks. I will also use the drippings for basting the turkey as our cook progresses. I start basting the turkey after it’s about 1/2 way through the cook. Then baste every hour thereafter. Take care when you baste your bird so you don’t remove any of the dry rub
When the internal thigh temperature has reached 175 degrees, I remove the bird from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to 180 degres during this rest period. It’s now time to slice and dine!


A few visitors dropped by:

Wild Turkeys at the bird feeder.
They must have felt safe.

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