Brine and Smoke Your Turkey

Smoking, grilling and frying holiday turkeys is growing in popularity each year. These methods offer up a great alternative to oven roasting. Often times oven roasted turkey can be dry and bland, and even when it is done well, it doesn’t offer up much in the flavor department. That’s why this year I will be brining and smoking my turkey.

A good way to ensure your turkey comes off the smoker moist and flavorful is to brine your turkey well in advance of cooking. In fact, regardless of how you cook your bird, brining is probably the most important stage to your preparation. It takes an otherwise dry, flavorless protein to new level and requires hardly any extra work. How can you go wrong with that?

Choose your turkey, make your brine, give ‘er a rub and smoke away. Happy holidays!


  • 1 12-15lb Turkey


  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 2 Cups of Salt
  • 3 Cups of Apple Juice or Cider (note: juice will have more sugar, so choose your own sweetness preference!)
  • 1 Cup of Bourbon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar


  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ½ Teaspoon Rubbed Sage
  • ½ Teaspoon Cumin


  1. Mix together the brine using hot water to dissolve the salt. After the brine cools to room temp add your turkey. Leave the turkey in the brine between 8 – 12 hours, turn halfway through.
  2. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Season all sides of the turkey with the rub, and allow to rest. Place wood chips/chunks in water to soak.
  3. Set up a grill for indirect heat. Place a drip pan partially filled with water on the side of the grill that you plan to place the turkey or use a turkey roasting pan filled with water or stock. I like to add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the water or stock to the roasting pan for additional aromatics.
  4. Once the grill temp reaches 350°, throw your pre-soaked woodchips in a smoker box (or punctured aluminum foil) over direct heat and place your turkey over indirect heat. Grill/smoke your bird for around 4 hours or until it reaches at least 160° Fahrenheit (allowing the turkey to raise above 170° when pulled off the grill and in resting).
  5. After removing the turkey from the grill/smoker, allow it to rest about 20min. After resting, the juices will be redistributed throughout the turkey, carve and enjoy!

If you’re using a turkey roasting pan, use the aromatics and drippings for a phenomenal gravy!


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