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First Time Turkey smoke

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey all, It has been awhile since I have smoked anything large. I have a frozen, farm raised Turkey and I want to smoke it for a party this saturday. I took it out of the freezer last night, and put it on a pan in the fridge. I think I could use some help on the proper way to thaw it out, and brine a good brine, smoking tips/ hints. Pretty much need help with the whole deal HA! I am looking forward to this, and I don't want to mess it up. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 18

Well your off to a good start, thawing your turkey in the fridge is the only way to thaw it. I brine over night then rinse, pat dry then let air dry in the fridge 12-18 hours. A good wood to use is apple. I run my smoker at 275*-300* to help get the skin to crisp up. Here's a simple brine that is good. This is a single batch, I usually need 2-3 gallons, will vary with size of bird.


1 1/2 cups, Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups, brown sugar

10 whole cloves
3 teaspoons, black peppercorns
1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) apple juice or cider (non-alcoholic)
Six oranges halved and squeezed (put all in pot)
[optional: 3 teaspoons, dried thyme and/or 3 teaspoons, dried sage]

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot, bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes (partly covered). Allow brine to cool completely.

Rinse turkey under cool running water, inside and out (remove giblets from body cavity). Pat turkey dry with paper towels, then immerse turkey in cooled brine.* Turkey should be completely submerged in liquid (place a plate or ziplock filled with water on top of the bird if necessary to keep it covered with the liquid).

Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove turkey, rinse, pat dry, air dry in fridge for 12-18 hours.

*Be sure the container used for brining turkey is non-reactive: use enamel, glass or crockery or stainless steel - never cast iron or aluminum. The pot should be just large enough to contain the turkey (so the brine will be sufficient to cover the bird).


post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Does the bird have to be completely thawed out? I feel like it will take days to thaw when sitting in the fridge?
post #4 of 18

Yes. It will take several days to thaw. On Wednesday I would check on it. You can run it under cold water to help speed things up if needed. You will want it in the brine Wednesday night or Thursday morning for a Saturday cook.

post #5 of 18

Case has it right on the money!


Good advice my friend.



post #6 of 18
I agree. ...but instead of 275-300 I prefer 325-350 for the same reason (crisp skin) ...but that's just me.

Alton has a good Turkey brine that I have used also.

Edited by Bama BBQ - 8/26/13 at 11:56am
post #7 of 18

Good luck , I'll be watching ... popcorn.gif


Have fun and ...

post #8 of 18

popcorn.gif ...ditto , Pat

post #9 of 18

Good luck, bwelch!  Good advice given...looking forward to the qview!



post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Good advice all. I appreciate it! Will be posting pics, and asking for advice as I go.
post #11 of 18
Originally Posted by bwelch77 View Post

Good advice all. I appreciate it! Will be posting pics, and asking for advice as I go.

It is a great way to learn by doing just what you are doing, asking the questions up front and posting as you go along. I have done the same thing a couple of times. The best part, the rest of us get to learn as you go along. I haven't done a turkey yet but I will be following your thread to learn as you are going along. Thanks for posting.





post #12 of 18

I always make broth or soup with my smoked bird carcasses.  You will be surprised how much smoke flavor the broth retains & its an amazing substitute for regular chicken or turkey broth. 

post #13 of 18
Hi guys, thanks for all the knowledge you put out there! I am new to this and finally got my small side smoker modded. I was thinking of doing a turkey breast. Can I do that without brine or will it be to dry? I have seen most of you talking about temps around the 300's for turkey. Is that the general rule? I had thought that you wanted ideal temps around 200 or is that just with pork? I did a first smoke and it took about 6 hours but I did a pork butt and some ribs. The ribs turned out dry but the butt had great flavor. I didn't have a good heat gauge installed at the time just the cheap one that came with it, that said ideal on it. Thanks for the help!
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Putting on the rub.... Smoker is rolling... Its about time!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
3 hours in...
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm at 4 ½ hours in... IT meat temp.at 160°
post #18 of 18

I will be doing a turkey tomorrow for Canadian Thanksgiving.  I'm doing a turkey in the oven, then trying out a smaller turkey in the smoker.  Didn't thikn about a brine.  Too late for that now.  


Anyway, in case your turkey is slow to thaw, I have had great success filling the sink with VERY cold water, some ice and then submerging the turkey in packaging in the water.  It is amazing how quickly it thaws.   You need to change the water and add ice frequently... moreso when it is closer to thawing since it is not as cold from being frozen.  

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