Looking for any pointers or tips to smoking a whole turkey. I built a reverse offset smoker and have hickory, cherry, maple, or oak wood. Dry brine or wet brine? Temp of the cook chamber? Never cooked a turkey on a stick burner and looking for some guidance. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi there and welcome!
The following info works no matter if you are using a stick burner, pellet, electric, or even an oven (no smoke with an oven lol).
1. I always wet brine my turkeys no matter if they have solution added to them already or not. I also inject the wet brine all over so it brines from inside out as well as outside in. They come out great!
I always encourage this.
For extra flavor add cure#1 for that great smoked turkey flavor and drumsticks that taste like state faire/Disney smoked drums.
To get the amount of salt correct for the wet brine you add up the weight of the water used (8 pounds per gallon is close enough) and the weight of the bird and convert to grams or ounces (grams is easier math).
Multiply that total weight by 0.0165 (1.65%) and that is how much salt you need to dissolve in to the water of your brine. Inject this brine all over.
: 2 gallons of water and a 14 pound turkey at 1.65% salt.
7,264gm of water (2 gallons) + 6,356gm (14pound turkey) = 13,620 total
Amount of salt = 13,620 x 0.0165 = 224.73gm
If adding cure#1 (I highly recommend this) get total weight IN POUNDS (.lbs) and multiply by 1.133 grams. This will give you the amount of GRAMS of cure#1 to dissolve in. Do not dissolve in hot or boiling water or it will kill the cure.
: 16 pounds of water (2 gallons) + 14 pound bird = 30 pounds total weight.
Cure#1 needed = 30 x 1.133grams = 33.99gm
You add this amount of cure#1 to your wet brine, it won't be too salty at all unless you are very very sensitive to salt
2. If your smoker is running at 325F or higher then you won't have any issues with rubber skin
. Turkey/poultry is notorious for having rubbery skin when not cooked at a high enough smoker temp. It should be edible and likely will crispy, which so many desire!
This is a key point to smoking a turkey!
Also, you don't want the breast to go over 165F. I cook to about 163F or so and it carries up to 165F. Many others will pull at a slightly lower temp so do what makes sense for u :)
3. Wood smoke flavor... I find a great flavor with about 60% hickory and then 20% Maple and 20% Cherry. Maple/Hickory/Cherry is what most competition blends are and the Cherry will give great color.
I don't like to go above 60% Hickory on most things because it makes stuff start tasting too much like bacon. This is fine for doing bacon but to me, it's not desirable when I want to taste the bird flavor.
Final rando tip. When the bird is done, try to avoid covering the bird with foil or plastic wrap, etc. while waiting to eat it. It will cause steam which will start to rehydrate the skin and may make it less crispy or even a little rubbery. It is best to store the bird uncovered in a pre warmed oven (not oven turned on).
I hope this info helps :)