Wood chunks for charcoal smokers or pellets for pellet smokers(combination of cherry, hickory or apple)
1 ½cupsDiamond kosher salt
8sprigs fresh thyme
10fresh sage leaves
2fresh rosemary sprigs
Brining the Turkey
Thaw the turkey if frozen, remove giblets and trim excess skin.
Bring 4 cups of the water to a boil and add the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary and peppercorns. Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
Let the liquid steep for 15 minutes while it cools, then add it to the remaining water.
Place the turkey in a container large enough to be completely submerged, and cover with the brine.
Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 15 hours, rotating the turkey at least once while it brines.
Rinse the turkey thoroughly and pat dry. Bring the turkey to room temperature for 1 hour while you prep the smoker.
Smoking the Turkey
Follow the manufacturer's instructions and bring the smoker to a temperature of 225 to 275° F and set it up for indirect cooking with a water drip pan in place. Add the wood chunks, chips or pellets. **See note about temperature.
Pat the turkey dry again with paper towels, then rub butter on the entire outside.
Spray a V-rack with cooking spray and place turkey breast-side up.
Place in the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 159° F and the thickest part of the thighs is 170° F.
Remove from the smoker and rest the cooked turkey on a cutting board for 30 minutes before carving and serving.
If using a self-basting turkey or a turkey that has already been brined, skip the brining step in this recipe.
Using a V-rack is totally optional, but it makes moving the turkey in and out of the smoker much easier.
Smoking over indirect heat is essential or the skin will burn before the turkey is finished cooking.
Approximate cook times:
at 225° F: 30-35 minutes per pound
at 250° F: 30 minutes per pound
at 275° F: 25 minutes per pound
at 325° F: 13 minutes per pound
For pellet smokers, I recommend smoking at a lower temperature if you want more smoke flavor.
Open the lid as few times as possible during the smoke. This will keep the temperature consistent as well as keep the smoke in.
There will be temperature carryover, so remove the turkey about 5 to 7 degrees lower than where you want it to end up.
Verify 165° F finished temperature with an instant-read probe thermometer after 10 to 15 minutes into the rest.
Don't skip the rest and longer is always better to keep it juicy.