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First Time Turkey Smoke - This Saturday

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I am working on preparations for my first time turkey smoke session.  As we all do, I've done my research and found the technique I wan to use.  It will be a dry brine on an apple wood smoke.


I got a free turkey a few months back that I've had in the freezer just for smoking and now that I've gotten some smoking experience under my belt, it is time for the turkey.  Unfortunately, it is a 20 pound turkey which rules out the low and slow approach to get it our of the "danger zone" in enough time.  Instead of smoking it at 240, I'll be cooking it at 325 and using smoke mostly for the first hour or so.  It will still get the smokey flavor and using the higher temp will give good crisp skin.  I will be covering the ends of the legs and wings with foil for the first hour of cook.


I will be shooting for an IT of 160 before removing the bird to rest.  The bird will not be stuffed as that slows the cook and only absorbs the bird's juices.  The dressing will be put in paper lined muffin tins for individual servings, possibly with some cranberry sauce in the middle.  I'm allowing 4-4.5 hours to cook and if it has to rest for an hour before serving, all the better.  It will be an interesting smoke on Saturday, the outside temp in Phoenix will be around 100-105 and probably still really humid from the storms the last two days.  I'm gonna need some adult beverages to combat that heat, Mother Road Brewing Co.'s Gold Road Kolsch Style Ale (got a case of it).


I'll do my best to get some pictures from prep to table.



post #2 of 26
Subbed and waiting to see how it goes! I was looking for a turkey at the store tonight but they were all to big.
post #3 of 26

What type of smoker will you be using?


If you have the room I would spatchcock it.

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have a Camp Chef 24" Smoke Vault.  I do have room to spatchcock it.  I'll read up on that technique.  If I don't I'll use a turkey cannon to hold it upright while it cooks.  That is suppose to let the heat into the cavity better.

post #5 of 26
Subscribed. I have a turkey in my freezer I'm ready to pull out.
post #6 of 26
Originally Posted by AZSmokerMark View Post

I have a Camp Chef 24" Smoke Vault.  I do have room to spatchcock it.  I'll read up on that technique.  If I don't I'll use a turkey cannon to hold it upright while it cooks.  That is suppose to let the heat into the cavity better.

I think spatched it will cook more even. I spatch birds all the time.

But you know what they say about oninions.
post #7 of 26
Sounds like you have it under control. Looking forward to see how it comes out. I'll be taking notes , cause ill be smoking my first turkey in a couple of months. Cant wait!
post #8 of 26

I have smoked 20lb+ turkeys at 200/220 box temp and never had a problem reaching that magic 140 IT mark in 4 hours. Bigger turkeys are older and tuffer. There are many ways to smoke it, brine it, inject it, rub it, marinate it, use aromatics in the cavity, lots of diffent ways.


If you do not spatchcock it, tuck the wings under. It does two things it keeps the tips from possibly burning and it allows better stability with the bird on the grate.


I like the applewood idea, I did some turkey legs last week, and they were beautiful, Think I I had to drop the box temp two or three times ended up at 190? Anway I still hit 160 in 4 hours easily,  I was more fighting to leave them long enough to get good smoke. I even opened the door to cool it off two or three times. The skin though was a beautiful amber color.


I did a fast two day sweet brine cure. Limited the salt so I used a pinch of cure #1 to help it along. Sugar is still a dehydrant but its not nearly as mobile as salt.


There is so many ways to try! I don't remember ever having a bad one cause it is always a beautiful day smoking.


However you decide I am sure you'll love it. Remember to keep yourself hydrated.....LOL Bon Chance!

post #9 of 26
Sounds like a plan!! Couple thoughts: I'd go with smoke the whole time. Apple is very mild and one hour is likely not going to be enough to even notice it was smoked. At 325 it should only be in the smoke for 5 hours or so, so over smoking shouldn't be an issue. Also, make sure the skin is DRY. You said you're doing a dry brine but I'm guessing you'll still have to rinse it before going in the smoke. At the very least pat it dry thoroughly. Optimally let it sit uncovered in the bottom of the fridge overnight. It makes a huge difference in the texture of the skin.
Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
post #10 of 26

Reliable info. from Kevin and Cfarmer .


Good Smoking and . . .

post #11 of 26

Why smoke only the first hour?  Id hit it with smoke the whole cooking time (as was stated above).  Apple is mild......sometimes I add a piece of Hickory with it to kick it up a notch! 





post #12 of 26

I will be watching this one for sure.  Smoked brined turkey is high on my to-do list.

post #13 of 26

Am looking very much forward to your progress and outcome on this bird.

post #14 of 26

I don't do turkey, and chix cook pretty quick. Milder woods do not work so well.


I am with others for more smoke time or a stronger wood.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 

It's going to be tomorrow. Something came up today that needs my attention.


AZ Smoker Mark

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 

This is not the 20 pounder I planned to smoke.  That one had freezer burn so I got another one.  This one is 14 pounds.


This bird has a dry brine rub on it.  Going in the smoker at 2:00 PM for about 2.5 hours at 325 degrees or until IT is 160.

Temp probe into the breast.




This pan is for the gravy.  It has 2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 celery rig, 1 tbs Thyme, 1 tbs sage, 3 qts water, 1 1/2 cup apple juice.  

The drippings will catch here and the liquid will be used for gravy.



This is a mixture of Apple, Cherry, and tiny bit of Hickory for the smoke.


Here it is in the Camp Chef 24" Smoke Vault before I buttoned it up.  I foiled the ends of the legs and the tips of the wings so they would not burn.  I'll remove it sometime after the first hour.


AZ Smoker Mark

post #17 of 26

Looks interesting!


I'll be looking forward to see the result!




post #18 of 26





Did my first turkey in my green mountian grill with a creole butter. Got a little sooty. Cooked it at 250 for 7 Hrs Int. temp 165. Im sure it will taste ok . When I take them out of my other smoker they are Golden Brown.

post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 

Just took a peak at the bird.  It is looking nice and brown.  It has been cooking for an hour and a 45 minutes now and the IT is 151.  Took the foil off the ends of the legs and wings.  Another hour should do it.  I'll check the breast and thigh temps with my Thermapen to get a second reading just to be sure I've hit the IT I'm cooking to.  The smoke smelled wonderful.  Guests begin arriving in an hour.


I plan to take the entire breasts off in a single piece for each breast and then slice it across the breast into 1" sections.

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 

Here are a couple pictures of how the turkey turned out.  It looks great.  It smells great.  Oh, and the gravy smells and tastes great.


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