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Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey With Savory Citrus Brine


There's nothing more drool-inducing than a succulent Thanksgiving turkey. Unless, of course, the turkey is smoked. Smoking a turkey not only infuses it with amazing depth of flavor, but the low and slow cooking technique helps keep the meat moist and tender. Smoking your turkey will also free up valuable oven space to cook the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner. You don't even need a smoker—any gas grill can be used for smoking. However, turkey—even smoked turkey—is prone to drying out. Cooking it just a few minutes too long can result in tough meat that begs for gravy. That's because anatomy and science conspire to make serving dry turkey more likely than not. For starters, the turkey's fattier dark meat needs to reach a higher finishing temperature than the lean white meat. Further complicating the matter, the large cavity and breast cause the turkey to cook unevenly.


Prep time
15 minutes
Cooking time
6 hours
Total time
6 hours, 15 minutes

Wood Pellet Flavor -Apple, Cherry, Oak


1 1⁄2 gal
Lemon (cut into wedges)
Orange (cut into wedges)
Medium onion (cut into wedges)
3 clv
Bay Leaves
1 T
Dried thyme
1 T
Ground black pepper
1 T
Whole peppercorns
1 lb
Whole turkey (1 12- to 14-pound whole turkey) (fresh or thawed)
2 t
1 t
Ground black pepper


  1. Rub salt onto the turkey. Put the remaining salt, lemons, oranges, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper into brining bucket. Place the turkey in the brining bucket and fill with water. Refrigerate overnight. After removing turkey from the brine, rinse it thoroughly (inside and out) then pat dry.

  2. Lightly brush melted butter onto the turkey skin then season it with the salt and pepper.
  3. When the smoker reaches 250°F, add the wood chunks (suggested wood: cherry, apple, or peach).
  4. Place the turkey on the grill grate, legs facing toward the fire (this will help the dark meat cook faster and finish with the white meat). Cover the smoker and cook the turkey for about 6 hours, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170 to 175°F.
  5. For a smoked Thanksgiving turkey that is tender and juicy, brine the turkey the night before. Brining—soaking the turkey in a liquid solution of salt and water—will absorb moisture into the meat. On average, meat loses 30% of its weight during cooking. Brining can reduce that to 15%. Although salt and water are all you need, adding aromatics to the brine can infuse your turkey with subtle flavors. Serve an unforgettable holiday dinner using this recipe for a smoked Thanksgiving turkey with a savory citrus brine:
  6. Serve and enjoy!

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