How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive Season

How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive season compassandfork.comToday, at Compass and Fork, we put the spotlight on smoked turkey, as cooked in the smoker, to help celebrate the festive season.

A little more work, maybe, than roasting your festive-season turkey in the oven, but the extra rewards make this a great reason to go the extra mile and use a smoker to cook your turkey. And here is how to smoke your turkey so it turns out perfectly!

If you are looking to cook turkey so that people will still be talking about it this time next year, read on. We will take you through the whole process:

  • Buy a fresh turkey from your local butcher/provider;
  • Brine the turkey for extra juiciness, flavor and tenderness;
  • Massage a wet rub to perfectly season your turkey;
  • Cook the turkey on the smoker low and slow, basting with a butter-based solution;
  • Rest your smoked turkey for around 1 hour; and
  • Carve your turkey masterpiece and serve.

Welcome to the festive season here in the USA. If you are not from the USA, find out what all the fuss is about with turkey over the Thanksgiving and Holiday season.

The Festive Season in the USA

spotlight on festive season smoked turkey in the usa compassandfork.comI don’t know any person that doesn’t enjoy the celebrations around the festive season. In the USA, the unofficial festive season commences with the advent of fall and Halloween. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world.

Around late September, you will see all sorts of fabulous, yard decorations signaling fall, or autumn. Think haystacks, pumpkins and scarecrows. When you first observe these fall decorations, you know that Halloween is just around the corner, with its ghoulish decorations, ghosts and no end of fun parties to attend.

Although Halloween has its roots in Europe, the US is responsible for developing the modern traditions we associate with Halloween, such as trick or treating for the children and the fun “dress-up” parties for the adults. Thoughts then soon turn to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA and Canada. In the USA, celebrations are the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada it is the second Monday in October. The holiday is to give thanks for everything you have with your family and friends. A time for a moment of gratitude.

And after Thanksgiving, it’s time to put up the Christmas decorations!  We all know what comes in late December. More family celebrations ensue.

For people outside of the US, it is interesting to observe Thanksgiving. It seems bigger in the US than Christmas. Americans often travel to be with family at Thanksgiving more so than at Christmas.

spotlight on festive season smoked turkey in the usa compassandfork.com

All in all, it is a fun time of the year to be in the US.

Smoking a Turkey

Within the US, turkey is extremely popular and you typically roast a turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving as well as Christmas. And why not? It is good for you and is relatively cheap compared to turkey in other parts of the world.  Many other countries also celebrate Christmas with a roast turkey.  This recipe offers you the chance to do something different this year!

The traditional way of cooking turkey is to roast it in the oven, but I can tell you turkey cooked in the smoker just adds a touch of class to your festive celebrations. Although any time of the year is a good time to cook turkey in the USA, Thanksgiving and Christmas offer you the opportunity to do something special with your family and friends.

It is true there is more work involved in smoking your turkey. But cooking your turkey slow and low in the smoker will reward you with taste and tenderness. You will need access to a smoker for this recipe.  Several years ago we did extensive research about smokers.  You want one with good heat insulation (to maintain a constant temperature) and a separate door for the wood chips (so the heat does not escape when you need to top the wood chips up).

You should brine your turkey prior to smoking and you want your turkey to be around 12 lbs (5.5kg or less), although I have successfully cooked a 16 pounder in the smoker. Brining really does become “essential” for larger poultry like turkey, if you want tender, juicy turkey. Pre-prepared brining mixes makes this an easy task. For those unable to find a prepared mix you can read more about how to brine here.

After brining, I also season the turkey with a wet rub. Once cooking in the smoker, I baste the turkey with a butter-based solution. I also like to rest the turkey for 1 hour before slicing to allow for maximum juiciness.

Do you like smoking food? You might also enjoy cooking beef brisket in the smoker.

 

How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive Season compassandfork.com

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How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive Season www.compassandfork.com
18 of the Most Popular Festive Season Recipes from Around The World compassandfork.com
How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive Season
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Smokers aren't just for cooking ribs. Get adventurous and smoke your turkey for the festive season
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
12people 2hours 7hours 12hours
Servings Prep Time
12people 2hours
Cook Time Passive Time
7hours 12hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: people
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Instructions
  1. Brine your turkey for a minimum 1 hour per pound in the refrigerator. Remove turkey from brining solution and dry totally with kitchen paper. Allow to come up to room temperature.How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive season compassandfork.com
  2. Mix together the wet rub ingredients and apply liberally over the turkey. Prepare the butter baste. Place the turkey in the pre-heated smoker, following the manufacturer's instructions. I cooked at a temperature of 225 f (110 c) and I used Jack Daniels wood chips.
  3. Cook for approximately 30 - 40 minutes per pound basting the turkey with the prepared butter baste each hour. I used a meat thermometer to determine when to remove the turkey from the smoker. It needs to register 170 f (75 c) in the thick part of the thigh and 160 (71 c) for the breast. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before carving.How to Smoke your Turkey for the Festive season compassandfork.com

10 Responses

  1. Lisa
    | Reply

    This turkey looks amazing. I always brine my bird – because it keeps it so juicy! My husband mentioned that he wanted to try smoking a turkey — now I think we’ll have to do it with your tutorial! Thank you!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Lisa, one of the great benefits about traveling is picking up cooking tips like brining. I didn’t realize how important that was for larger birds like turkey, until I visited the US. I hope the smoker goes well for you.

  2. patricia conte
    | Reply

    I’ve never made, nor had smoked turkey! So many people love it, so I’m sure it’s delicious! I may try to brine my turkey next time! Thanks for sharing!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Good luck Patricia. Smoking is not for everyone but the brining definitely produces a juicier turkey.

  3. Platter Talk
    | Reply

    What a beautifully colored bird! Does resting for an hour make the turkey cool down? Do you tent?

    • Editor
      | Reply

      We actually wrapped the turkey in foil and then some tea towels around the foil. It was still warm to hot and very juicy.

  4. That turkey – my oh my oh my! Never heard about this ‘smoking’ process though, but the results looks absolutely drool-worthy!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thank you for that Tina. The smoking gives such a different element to the turkey.

  5. Raia
    | Reply

    I’ve never tried smoking a turkey before. You make it look super delicious, though

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Give it a go, great fun! And as a bonus, you have smoked turkey sandwiches for leftovers.

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