Another year has passed and another Thanksgiving Turkey is upon us. Every year I typically try something a little different with the thanksgiving turkey. This year I am preparing a Brined and Buttered Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey, smothered with a mixture of fresh herbs, pepper, and BUTTER! Keeping it simple, but super tender and moist, with a ton of fresh flavor from a lot of chopped herbs. This might be my favorite Thanksgiving Turkey I have ever made. I invite you to give it a try for your family and friends…. I think you will end up looking like a hero!
My philosophy with turkey and chicken is keep it simple. Let the bird do the talking with a nice accent of flavor added from a brine, flavorful rub, or a combination of both. The 4 ingredient brine from this recipe gives it a nice light saltiness throughout the turkey meat and the herby butter provides a brightness to the meat with out over powering it. I look forward to making this again on Thanksgiving Day!
I used my Big Green Egg to smoke the turkey. You can use what ever smoker or grill you have available. You can also use an oven if needed. The most important thing is keeping the temperature at 325 F, nice and steady. If you are looking to buy an entry level smoker, the best value grill/smoker out there might be the Weber Kettle Premium 22″. It is a grill first, but can perform great as a smoker. I love it for chicken or turkey. If you are going to use a Weber Kettle, you may want to check out my post on smoking a chicken on a webber kettle. Go with all lump charcoal to give the turkey a kiss of smoke, rather than drowning the bird with smoke. My favorite lump charcoal is Fogo Premium Hardwood Charcoal. Big pieces that last a long time.
- 20 Cups Warm Water
- 4 -6 Cups Ice (add after mixing other ingredients together)
- 1/2 Cup Sea Salt
- 1/2 Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- 1.5 Cups Brown Sugar
Buttery Herby Rub Ingredients
- 1.5 sticks of butter – unsalted
- 1/4 Cup of Freshly shopped herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme is what I used)
- 1.5 Tablespoons of Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper
Turkey Brining and Smoking Process
- Pick out a nice turkey. I like the average 12-14 lb birds. They cook up fast and are easy to handle. If you have a real crowd… buy two!
- Let it thaw out in the fridge. This will take 3 days or so.
- Brine the turkey overnight. I use my largest pasta pot and my beer fridge to store the turkey overnight. If needed, use a food safe brining bag and a cooler full of ice around the bag to keep it cool overnight.
- Mix the warm water and dry ingredients together, then add the salt to cool the brine before adding the turkey
- Start your smoker and heat it to 325 F. I am only using lump charcoal to smoke this Thanksgiving Turkey for a light smoke flavor. If you like, add a small amount of apple or cherry when starting the cook.
- Mix up the butter, herb, pepper mix. Heat the butter up if needed to make it easier to mix, but you want it thick and sticky.
- Quickly rinse your turkey with cold water and then dry your Turkey. Apply the butter mix all over the outside and inside of the turkey. Use your hands to pry the skin away from the breasts and then apply the butter between the meat and the skin. I used the entire stick and a half of butter… I don’t think you can over do it.
- Sprinkle the exterior with salt and pepper
- Smoke the turkey until breast temperature is at 160 F and the thigh is above 165 F. Let it rest for 15 minutes and carve that turkey up! For a 12 lb bird, I have found the smoking process to take about 120-140 minutes at 325. If you vary the temperature, cooking time will change. Trust a good meat thermometer to tell you when to pull the bird.