Smoked Turkey 101: How to Smoke Thanksgiving Turkey on the Grill

Kelly B's 101, Seafood

The flavor of smoked turkey simply cannot be matched. It’s a holiday favorite your family is sure to gobble up this Thanksgiving. Follow these simple steps to serve up a turkey so good, you’re family will still be talking about it at your Fourth of July barbecue next summer.

To start, remove the giblets from your turkey and allow the bird to reach room temperature. Take a stick of soft butter and whip it together with some garlic powder and onion powder (onion powder optional). Just a few sprinkles of each should do the trick. Take the blunt end of a butter knife or other similar kitchen tool and gently separate the skin from the breast meat. Carefully spread the butter in between the skin and breast meat to help keep the turkey moist.

Cut onions into 1/8th wedges and dice up some celery. Coat the veggies with the garlic and onion butter, then stuff the turkey cavity with the mixture.

Heat the grill around 300°F to 325°F. Once it’s hot enough, place ol’ Tom on the grill. You’ll want to place the bird in a pan or oven-safe casserole dish. Once the coals are heated, push them to one side of your grill and place the turkey-filled pan on the empty side to keep the turkey off the direct coals or flames. On a gas grill, light both sides of the grill to get the temperature up, and then turn off one side to keep the turkey out of direct flames. Consider your grill as an oven. You may have to occasionally turn (not flip) the turkey to avoid burning one side.

For additional flavor, add wood chips or chunks to your grill before cooking. We like hickory or cherry best. These wood chunks can be placed in a steel box for gas grills, creating a delicious smoky flavor.

Don’t forget to use your meat thermometer! Cook time will depend on your cooking apparatus, the size of your turkey, and the outside temperature. Because of this, you will want to stay close to the bird and continue to check its internal temperature after it has been smoking for about 2 hours. Continue to smoke the bird until it reaches at least 165°F. You may want to pull it off at 160°F because it will continue to cook.

Does your family prefer to cook smaller portions rather than the whole bird? No problem! Skip the stuffing, but follow the same steps for a turkey breast. Your cook time will be much shorter, so stay close and continue to check the meat with your thermometer.

Don’t forget the toast!

Birds of a feather flock together. I am thankful for all those flocked together today. To a happy Thanksgiving!