Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is almost here? Do you look forward to the big day? I definitely look forward to hanging out with some family, overeating, and throwing back some beers on a Thursday afternoon. The only thing that stresses me out about thanksgiving is planning the meal with family. Some people want this, some people want that, and others could not care less. If you happen to draw the Thanksgiving Turkey card this year, I think this recipe will do you proud, and it could not be easier. This 12 pound turkey was marinated in a salty herby dry rub overnight, then injected with a butter solution the day of smoking, and then got smoked over apple wood in a Big Green Egg at 325 degrees for 2 hours 20 minutes. What I like about this recipe is the simplicity and the results. There was no liquid brining necessary or basting during the cook and it came out juicy, full of flavor. The turkey had just the right amount of salt to it and the herbs did shine through on the breast meat. I have been eating the leftovers for 3 days now, and I am still not sick of it!
First, pick out a nice size Turkey. Our family is not huge, so I am going with a 12 lb bird. I try to be reasonable with my meat selections in regard to organic and grass fed… choosing something in the middle hoping the animal was treated well, but does not cost twice as much as the generic bottom of the barrel. This is the bird I chose…
I have used Honeysuckle turkey products before and they have always turned out well, so this is what I went with. After rinsing and drying the bird, I used 4 Tablespoons of Herb Lov’n Rub to thoroughly rub the entire exterior of the bird, the inside of the cavity, and under the skin of the breasts. That’s right, I rubbed the hell out of those breasts. I’m not even ashamed.
For more info on seasoning and injecting a bird, check out this video I made on smoking a chicken. We are doing the exact same thing, except we are injecting the bird a day later, before we smoke it. After seasoning, place the bird in a pan and cover loosely with foil.
After marinating overnight, we are ready to smoke. Before starting the smoker, I pulled the bird out of the fridge and injected it with a mixture of melted butter, light olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. This process is also covered in the video above. You want to inject several tablespoons into each breast and then use the leftover solution in the leg and thigh area. This is the extent of our Turkey preparation. No stuffing at all. If you put stuffing in there, it is just going to dry out the bird as you have to overcook the bird to cook the stuffing. If you want to throw some lemons in there or apples, feel free, but I do not find it necessary.
After injecting, start the smoker and heat up to 325 F. I used a big green egg for this smoke and my setup is always the same for most smoke sessions. Heat deflector wrapped in foil below the meat. The meat then placed on a rack several inches above the heat deflector. You can buy the setup below online at the ceramic grill store. I like this setup because you can pick up the grill grate and heat deflector at once when you need to check the fire. I switched to this 3 years ago and have not looked back.
I only used one chunk of apple wood over lump charcoal as I do not like an over smoked bird with gravy. I prefer a light smoke flavor for Thanksgiving. Below are shots of the Turkey during the cooking process. I was pleasantly surprised that the breast meat and the thigh meat cooked pretty evenly and I pulled the Turkey at 165 F. The thigh meat was only one degree higher than the breast at that time. One thing that I think actually helps this is not tieing up the legs before cooking. I never do this and have never had an issue with any meat drying out.
I then let the Turkey rest in a preheated oven as I prepare the sides. I do this to buy myself some time. The trick is to heat the oven to 170 F (my lowest setting) and the turn the oven off before placing the turkey inside. This gives you plenty of time for final gravy and mashed potato preparation. Let the turkey rest for at least 30 – 60 minutes and you are ready to carve it up! If you give this recipe a shot, be sure to leave me a message or hit me up on facebook. I would love to hear how things turned out for you. Thanks for stopping by – Keegan
- 12-14 lbs Whole Turkey
Herb Lov'n Dry Rub
- 1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon Thyme
- 1 Tablespoon Oregano
- 1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 5 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil or other light vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix Herb Lov'n Rub several days before you smoke the turkey.
The day before: Clean Turkey, removing any giblets, etc. Rinse inside and out and dry the entire bird.
Apply the rub all over the exterior of the bird and the inside of the cavity.
Lift up the skin over the breasts and put a spoon full of rub under the skin. Move the rub around with your fingers under the skin, trying to apply evenly.
Cover the turkey in a pan with foil loosely and place in refrigerator overnight.
The day of smoking the turkey - remove bird from fridge and inject with melted butter solution. Inject breasts first and then anything leftover into thighs and legs. Try not to puncture too many wholes in the skin - use the same puncture when possible for repeat injections.
Heat smoker to 325 F for indirect cooking
Place one chunk of apple wood on smoker and then place bird on smoker
Cook for 1.75 hours and then monitor internal temperature. I have found the thighs are usually 165 F when the breasts are 160 F. Remove the turkey when the thigh and breast meat are each over 160 F.
Rest at least 30 minutes, covered in foil. Carve and serve!
Expect cooking time to vary with size of bird and smoker setup. Monitor internal temperature as you cook the turkey to adjust the time needed.