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Smoked Turkey Bisque/Gravy: Recipe, Review, Pics


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 27, 2008
Hey everyone! I haven't posted anything new on my smokes for a while, and I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't have more pics to share, but I didn't plan on posting about anything I cooked today, or I would have taken more of the process and progress, but this recipe is so simple and easy that you won't have any trouble jumping right in. It's another example of those unexpected delicious treats that you never saw coming (I didn't either)...I didn't have a clue that it would be such a hit with everyone here today. I just could not let this one pass by without throwing it out for the upcoming holiday...hope it give a few of you an idea how on to kick up your Thanksgiving Day meal.

I just worked up this recipe this morning, on the fly, and it worked very well for smoked turkey (or roasted...we had one of each), thickened with starch/flour for gravy, if you like, but even as a side dish would be excellent. We used this to dip no-knead slow-raised home made rolls, poured it over mashed potatoes, stuffing and bird, alike. It was a huge hit with friends and family today, as we celebrated an early Thanksgiving Holiday due to work schedules.

Note: this method was used in a vertical smoker, but may also be adapted for horizontals. Also, this was for a double-bird cook (25.5lbs total precooked weight) so adjust your volumes accordingly, if you like.

Prep time: approx 10 minutes.
Cook time: 4-6 hours.
Serves: 30+

Ingredients (for approx 3 qts...you'll want to make it worth your effort, and you won't want to run out of this, either...I have 1 quart for the freezer

4 carrots, peeled, large cross cut chunks
3 celery stalks, washed, large cross-cut chunks
1 large yellow onion, rough cut into wedges and separated (quartered or smaller)
3 Tbs minced dried garlic (or 7-8 fresh cloves cut in half)
Necks of 2 birds
4 Tbs chicken bouillon
1 Tbs cracked black peppercorn
1 large Red Delicious apple, peeled, cored, small to medium diced
Juice of 2 medium/large oranges
2 Qts water

Thicken with A/P flour/corn starch/cold water after smoking/cooking/processing if using as a gravy.
You may add gizzards, if desired...I did not add the livers, as the flavor profile would have changed dramatically, and would have lost the lighter, more subtle flavors I was looking for.

Notice that the seasoning is minimal. The flavors of the ingredients, combined with the drippings of the bird and the smoke will provide all the flavor you need...simple, yet very delicious.

Place all ingredients into a deep pan approximately the size of the bird. Place pan into your smoker with several inches of clearance between the rim of the pan and grate your bird will be smoked on (more clearance = less heat baffling effect to the bird from the pan). You want to catch the bird drippings in the pan. You may opt to de-fat the Bisque after smoked/cooked, leaving a small amount of remaining fat for thickening the free-liquid into a gravy, if desired.

Smoke bird and Bisque at approx 260-280* for 4-6 hours (lower temps will result in slower, less tender cooking of ingredients). Remove the Bisque pan, pull neck meat (trim and chop gizzard) and run all ingredients through a blender until particle size is small to fine. Pour into large sauce pan or stock pot and heat to boiling to add flour/starch for gravy as desired.

Here's what's left after feeding a party of 18 with many having 2+ plates, and leaving 1/2 qt with the hosts...chilled and getting thicker...you can see bits of the carrot, and a few scattered pepper particles:

Sodium content of the bisque seemed very low, but no one even mentioned it needing more salt. I used Knorr brand Chicken flavored bouillon...sodium run-down is as follows:
Serving size: 1 tsp
Sodium: 870mg / 38% DV
Multiply the Sodium x 12 (3tsp per Tbsp x 4Tbsp), then divide by 30 servings for a total of 2/5 (0.4) tsp/serving, or sodium per serving of 348mg / 15.2% DV. 30 servings from 3 quarts would translate to 3.2 fluid ounces (2/5 cup), so that's a probably an average serving when used on the bird and all the sides previously mentioned...your mileage may vary. For those who may be on a restricted sodium intake, I think you'll find the bisque would be equally good if the chicken bouillon were reduced sodium, or if omitted altogether, depending on you individual tolerance to sodium.

There was so much going on with what little there was in differing flavors, it seemed to hit the palate in layers...very interesting. It really could have had much less salt than that from what was contained in the bouillon and still be quite good. Also, fat content is not nearly as high as I thought it would be. When I pulled the pan to defat before processing, I was pleasantly surprised to find very little on the surface, only skimming about 2 Tbs (bird was smoked skin-on, breast up). I had to add a few Tbs of Olive oil just to get it to thicken to my desired consistency, which was not really thick, but almost more like a sauce...semi-thickened, if you will. So, reduced sodium and low-fat, and it tasted GREAT...no complaints from me with that...no complaints from anyone, for that matter.

I used a heavy smoke for over an hour, with a 50/50 mix of hickory and apple chips in the Smoke Vault 24, then added only apple after the first hour, with smoke tapering to a thin blue within approx 90 minutes and continuing for nearly 4 hours thereafter. My Bisque was smoked for 5 hours, then removed and processed and thickened slightly.

The smoke flavor in the bisque came through right up front, but was not overpowering at all. The more subtle flavors of the main ingredients came on immediately after the smoke. The carrot and celery seemed to be dominant, while the onion and garlic offered their light touch in flavor and aromas. Pepper was light, with no harshness. Paired with a citrus blend of dry rub on the bird, oven roasted bird and stiffing, solo baked stuffing in loaf pans, or mashed taters, it was a top-notch meal...and I owe at least part of that to this bisque.

This is so easy to make, and the rewards are so worth the little extra effort. I've made sauces and gravies with drippings in the past, although they had much less ingredients and lots of seasoning to get a reasonable amount of flavor from them...let's face it: gravy is, well, fats, starches and/or flour, water, drippings and/or stock/bouillon with limited other ingredients. This Bisque has by far exceeded my expectations in flavor, texture and the reduction in ingredients that don't really add flavor...or better put, may offset the good flavors and make it more bland in order to achieve a desired product (starch/flour), tempting us to kick up the flavor with even more salt and spices. When I told everyone they were eating an experiment, I was told that I better have this recipe written down so I could make it again for them...figured I better get busy, 'cuz I didn't write it down (easy to remember, though). I wouldn't share it if I didn't want others to join in on the great eats...ENJOY!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!!!



Master of the Pit
Joined May 12, 2013
Hello Eric.  Thanks for posting.  Looks mighty tasty.  On my list.  Well done and I like the idea of the apple and orange juice.  Keep Smokin!



Joined Sep 30, 2011
Hi Eric,

Think I might try this gravy recipe for tomorrow. Quick question for ya: When you say "pull neck meat (trim and chop gizzard)", does that mean you smoke those as well? If so, how? Inside the turkey? And is there a certain process for trimming and chopping the gizzard? Never done it before. Might be a dumb question, but want to make sure I do it right because it looks and sounds amazing.



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