When smoking a whole turkey, use a small bird. A turkey larger than 12 pounds stays in the temperature "danger zone" too long before it cooks and could cause foodborne illness.
Brining your turkey first is our key to a moist, tender, and flavorful bird. Be sure to plan ahead, since most brines require 8 to 12 hours of marinating time.
Find out how to brine a turkey here.
A rub is a blend of herbs, spices, and seasonings. Adding a rub to smoked turkey gives it great flavor.
To ensure even cooking, prep your turkey for smoking. If a band of skin crosses the tail, tuck the drumsticks under the band. Otherwise, tie drumsticks to the tail. Twist wing tips under the back to avoid burning.
Prepare the smoker according the manufacturer's directions. Add five soaked and drained wood chunks to smoker. Place turkey, breast side up, on the top rack of your smoker.
Add one to two additional chunks when only a wisp of smoke comes through the top vent.
We like to use cherry wood or apple wood chunks. However, oak and hickory impart great flavor as well.
For an 8- to 10-pound whole turkey, smoke for 4 to 5 hours at 225 - 250 degrees F until no longer pink. The internal temperature should read 180 degrees F in the thigh muscle.
Remove turkey from smoker and cover with foil. Let the turkey stand for 15 minutes prior to carving for the juiciest meat.
Wet smoking or water smoking uses a pan of water in the smoker to maintain moisture and tenderness.
Some tips for wet smoking:
Wood chips burn too quickly in the smoker, so opt for chunks of hardwood instead. Soak wood chunks in water for 1 hour prior to adding to the smoker. Add them to the smoker once the charcoal is hot and ashed over. When only a little smoke is coming out of the vent, add additional soaked wood chunks.
Put food in smoker 10 to 15 minutes later. Stop adding wood when the food is halfway done, and continue to cook without smoke until food is finished. Smoking for too long can give food a bitter flavor.
Use charcoal briquettes for your fire. They burn slowly, are readily available, and are inexpensive. We like to use a cylindrical chimney starter and wadded-up paper rather than lighter fluid to start the charcoal. Once ash forms, the briquettes are ready to be distributed.
Be sure to distribute the briquettes evenly in your smoker.