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Deep fried or Smoked Turkey?

smittybbq

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I'm just curious which one everyone thinks is better? I have heard both are better so I don't really know. I personally have never had either one. I planned on smoking one for Thanksgiving this year. It will be my first time so any tips will help. I know chicken takes smoke really well. Is it the same for a turkey? I'm assuming it probably is. What is your favorite wood to use? I also plan on brining a bird for the first time as well.


Thanks I honestly love this site. So much to learn on here.
 

mdboatbum

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Turkey takes smoke very well, so unless you REALLY like smoke, avoid stronger tasting woods like mesquite and hickory. I just put salt and butter on the skin and smoke at 325°.

I also brine, and then leave uncovered in the fridge for 24-36 hours before smoking. It dries the skin, keeping it from going rubbery.
 

smittybbq

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Turkey takes smoke very well, so unless you REALLY like smoke, avoid stronger tasting woods like mesquite and hickory. I just put salt and butter on the skin and smoke at 325°.

I also brine, and then leave uncovered in the fridge for 24-36 hours before smoking. It dries the skin, keeping it from going rubbery.
Does the brine add flavor to the turkey if you put stuff in it? or do you inject?
 

mdboatbum

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Does the brine add flavor to the turkey if you put stuff in it? or do you inject?
In my experience, brining doesn't do more than keep the meat moist. It does add salt, which turns up the volume on the flavor of the turkey as well as any seasonings used on the skin or in the cavity. Since most herbs and spices are oil, not water soluble, adding them to your brine does little more than give you a nice pretty brine to throw away. Onion and garlic are exceptions to this, and the meat will pick up a hint of these flavors.

I will sometimes inject, but beware of a couple things. One, if your injection is dark from using spices, molassses, brown sugar etc, you will have dark streaks/splotches in the meat. And 2, if you're using onion powder, the cellulose can leave a pasty substance in the meat. It's perfectly safe, but a little unsettling.
 

tallbm

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Does the brine add flavor to the turkey if you put stuff in it? or do you inject?
I rank Deep Fried Turkey #1 and Smoked Turkey #2 among all ways to do turkey for thanksgiving.

I have smoked 1 whole turkey, 1 tied together skinless boneless turkey breast for sandwich meat, and a ton of turkey drums and thighs state fair style. The whole turkey was season and injected, the breast was brined with cure and other seasonings, the drums/thighs were brined with salt, sugar, and cure to get the state fair drumstick flavor.

If you brine you will at the least use salt so that will add your salt flavor, no need to add any other salt or salt products or you will get a turkey that is too salty. You can add any other flavor stuff like garlic or onion to the brine as well and it will flavor the turkey but it is not necessary if you don't want to. You can get excellent flavor by seasoning the turkey with that the extra seasonings after you pull the turkey out of the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel.

In my testing, Turkey can handle more smoke and stronger woods than chicken. I personally like the middle ground of using Pecan on Turkey, it can handle it and turns out awesome! Also I found that smoking my Turkey benefits from adding a little Hickory when using softer woods. I smoke with wood pellets so I can blend in about 20% Hickory with my Pit Boss Competition Blend (Maple/Cherry/Hickory) blend and I do a double row smoke with my AMNPS to ensure I get enough smoke flavor in the quick 4-5 hour smoke that a turkey goes through to be done.

I smoked my turkey at 325F to attempt to get edible skin. If you cannot get 325F or higher you will likely have leathery skin that is not edible. You could always just remove the skin, season, smoke and you should be fine. I did chicken breast like that for lunch meat and no issues removing the skin and getting great flavor.

Check out my Turkey Smoke Posts here, lots of detail in them:

1st Whole Turkey Smoke - Injected
Turkey Breast Sandwich Meat Smoke
Cured Smoked Turkey Drumsticks






I hope this info helps :)
 

smittybbq

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Joined Oct 30, 2017
I rank Deep Fried Turkey #1 and Smoked Turkey #2 among all ways to do turkey for thanksgiving.

I have smoked 1 whole turkey, 1 tied together skinless boneless turkey breast for sandwich meat, and a ton of turkey drums and thighs state fair style. The whole turkey was season and injected, the breast was brined with cure and other seasonings, the drums/thighs were brined with salt, sugar, and cure to get the state fair drumstick flavor.

If you brine you will at the least use salt so that will add your salt flavor, no need to add any other salt or salt products or you will get a turkey that is too salty. You can add any other flavor stuff like garlic or onion to the brine as well and it will flavor the turkey but it is not necessary if you don't want to. You can get excellent flavor by seasoning the turkey with that the extra seasonings after you pull the turkey out of the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel.

In my testing, Turkey can handle more smoke and stronger woods than chicken. I personally like the middle ground of using Pecan on Turkey, it can handle it and turns out awesome! Also I found that smoking my Turkey benefits from adding a little Hickory when using softer woods. I smoke with wood pellets so I can blend in about 20% Hickory with my Pit Boss Competition Blend (Maple/Cherry/Hickory) blend and I do a double row smoke with my AMNPS to ensure I get enough smoke flavor in the quick 4-5 hour smoke that a turkey goes through to be done.

I smoked my turkey at 325F to attempt to get edible skin. If you cannot get 325F or higher you will likely have leathery skin that is not edible. You could always just remove the skin, season, smoke and you should be fine. I did chicken breast like that for lunch meat and no issues removing the skin and getting great flavor.

Check out my Turkey Smoke Posts here, lots of detail in them:

1st Whole Turkey Smoke - Injected
Turkey Breast Sandwich Meat Smoke
Cured Smoked Turkey Drumsticks






I hope this info helps :)
Awesome info. Thanks so much for the help. My electric smoker only goes up to 275 on the heat so I don't know how well the skin will do. Maybe I can put it in the over for a few min after its done smoking, but I for sure will brine the bird probably just add some salt and garlic. I might try and to a test run on some of my co-workers before I do it for the family. They can be my testers. Again thanks for all of the help. You guys are awesome
 

smittybbq

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Joined Oct 30, 2017
In my experience, brining doesn't do more than keep the meat moist. It does add salt, which turns up the volume on the flavor of the turkey as well as any seasonings used on the skin or in the cavity. Since most herbs and spices are oil, not water soluble, adding them to your brine does little more than give you a nice pretty brine to throw away. Onion and garlic are exceptions to this, and the meat will pick up a hint of these flavors.

I will sometimes inject, but beware of a couple things. One, if your injection is dark from using spices, molassses, brown sugar etc, you will have dark streaks/splotches in the meat. And 2, if you're using onion powder, the cellulose can leave a pasty substance in the meat. It's perfectly safe, but a little unsettling.
Thanks so much for the help. It is very much appreciated
 

dirtsailor2003

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Since your smoker only goes to 275° make sure and let that bird air dry in the fridge for a 12-24 hours. When the internal temperature hits 150°-155° pull the bird from the smoker and place it in a 425° oven and finish it to an IT of 160°-165°

I'm not a fan of wet brining birds. My preferred method is to dry bine. Salt, baking powder and whatever spices I want. Typically garlic powder, onion powder, cracked black pepper. Rub on prior to air drying the bird. Place rack to dry over a shallow pan In the fridge uncovered 12-24 hours.

I like a 50/50 mix of pecan and cherry.

On more note I typically spatchcock the bird too. Allows the bird to cook evenly.
 

tallbm

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Awesome info. Thanks so much for the help. My electric smoker only goes up to 275 on the heat so I don't know how well the skin will do. Maybe I can put it in the over for a few min after its done smoking, but I for sure will brine the bird probably just add some salt and garlic. I might try and to a test run on some of my co-workers before I do it for the family. They can be my testers. Again thanks for all of the help. You guys are awesome
Yeah the 275F with the electric smoker is likely going to give you leathery skin but you'll know once you try.
What you can also try is to take the turkey to like 145F IT and then move it to a super hot oven on broil and finish it to 165F and see if that does the trick to make the skin at least edible. I don't shoot for crispy skin I simply shoot for bite through and edible and crispy is a bonus.

I highly recommend you do a test run with your buddies being the testers.
If you use the AMNPS and you go with a softer smoking wood (like apple, maple, or cherry) you might want to try doubling up (two rows at once) and see if it gives you the smoke flavor you want. If you need more smoke flavor you can always mix in a touch of hickory like 15-20% and get more smoke flavor. At 275F your turkey will still cook quickly so less time for smoke and you will have even less time if you pull early to finish in the oven.
The test run will help you really move towards the things you want/need/like for the real run :)
 

sauced

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Vote here for smoked. Turkey is fantastic when smoked, you will be very surprised.
I smoke mine using apple wood and a little bit of hickory.
 

smittybbq

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Joined Oct 30, 2017
Vote here for smoked. Turkey is fantastic when smoked, you will be very surprised.
I smoke mine using apple wood and a little bit of hickory.
that's actually what I was going use was apple and hickory. Being as I have to use wood chips in my smoker do you soak them or leave them dry. I have noticed when I soak them I do get smoke for a lot longer just takes a little longer to start? I am thinking since turkey isn't a really long cook maybe keep them dry.
 

sauced

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that's actually what I was going use was apple and hickory. Being as I have to use wood chips in my smoker do you soak them or leave them dry. I have noticed when I soak them I do get smoke for a lot longer just takes a little longer to start? I am thinking since turkey isn't a really long cook maybe keep them dry.
No....don't soak them. Just keep adding dry chips as needed.
 

ab canuck

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Every year we do a couple birds usually in the spring with a big get together. Our favorite has been to brine them for 24-36hrs. Then I put them in the smoker for 2 hrs ish. then we pull it and deep fry. It seals in that wonderful smoke flavor as well. Yeah it's a lot of work but the group loves these. Usually a big hit...
 

SmokinAl

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I like them both ways, but given a choice I would fry it. I think they come out much more moist.
But the oil costs more than the turkey, so unless you are doing a lot of frying I would go with the smoked turkey.
We inject them with Tony C's Creole butter. We buy Butterballs so there is no need to brine them.
Pull it out when the breast hits 157, after a short rest the carryover cooking will bring the breast up to 165, at that point the thigh should be about 175, which is perfect!
Al
 

flg8rfan

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We do both every year, sometimes the fried dissappears faster, sometimes the smoked does. I typically smoke two birds and then fry 4 or 5. My wife had never had either until we got married, I smoked one one year (she thought I was crazy smoking a turkey), she was done with turkeys in the oven for good, I fried one the next year (once again, thought I was crazy.....), now makes me cook them both ways every year and both of our families all get together (which is why I have to cook so much!)
 

zwiller

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Only oven roasted for Thanksgiving here. I actually like the house smelling like turkey as much as eating it... Fried and smoked birds are awesome but just too over the top with traditional sides. If I had to choose, I'd say fried is better but it's mostly since smoked is so aggressive tasting. Smoke cured turkey is bar none my favorite but it more of a delicacy snack than a meal thing. I cannot imagine chowing down a plate of it. Now, if I was hosting the after party, anything is fair game...
PS Best way to do fried is to do parts instead of whole bird. More control, safer, and far less oil.
 

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