How to Smoke a Turkey on the Grill

Smoked turkey on the grill

Dezene Huber / Getty Images

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Brine: 24 hrs
Total: 28 hrs
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 turkey

Are you interested in making a smoked turkey but don't have a smoker? No worries—use your grill to slow-roast this tasty bird, and it will be just as tender and delicious.

A flavorful brine of apple juice, brown sugar, spices, and orange helps keep this bird nice and juicy while it grills. For best results, brine the turkey for 24 hours in the fridge before cooking. Smoking the turkey will take about 3 to 4 hours after brining, depending on the size of your bird.

You can use a gas or charcoal grill for this recipe. Regardless, you will want a good-quality grill thermometer to measure the temperature inside and avoid overcooking your turkey. Check the meat at multiple points with a probe thermometer to ensure it is fully cooked and safe to eat.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts/1.9 liters apple juice
  • 1 pound/450 grams brown sugar
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 oranges (quartered)
  • 4 ounces/115 grams fresh ginger (thinly sliced)
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 (12 to 14 pound/5.5 to 7.5 kilograms) turkey
  • 1 package hickory chips
  • Vegetable oil (for brushing on turkey)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue heating until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

  3. Skim off any foam that forms on the top and let cool.​

  4. In a large (5-gallon or larger) stockpot or similar container, combine the apple juice mixture with 3 quarts of water, oranges, ginger, cloves, bay leaves, and garlic.

  5. Remove any fatty deposit you might find on the turkey and everything from the body cavity.

  6. Place the turkey in the brine mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours. Make sure that the turkey remains completely submerged.

  7. Place the hickory chips in water and prepare your grill for indirect grilling on medium heat.

  8. Remove the turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

  9. Tie the legs together with string and lightly brush the turkey with vegetable oil.

  10. Preheat your grill to about 325 F/165 C. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a foil pan. Place on the grill away from direct heat.

  11. After 30 to 40 minutes, you will need to wrap the wings in foil to keep them from burning.

  12. Brush with vegetable oil periodically. If the breasts start to get too brown, cover with foil. The smoked turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches about 175 F/80 C in the thigh or about 165 F/75 C in the breast. You should expect it to take about 12 to 14 minutes per pound.

  13. When done, remove from the grill and let rest for about 15 minutes.

  14. Carve and serve.

Do You Baste a Turkey When You Smoke It?

Some smoked turkey recipes call for basting throughout the cooking process. This recipe includes a 24-hour brine that adds flavor and moisture to the meat, so no basting is required. Keep an eye on the bird, though, to make sure that the skin doesn't brown too much.

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