Smoked turkey can be a delight, but it can also be pretty dreadful depending on how well it is prepared and cooked. Want to be sure you get it right? Check out The Electric Smoker‘s top turkey trips right now.
Whole or cut up which is best?
Both methods can result in a really moist and delicious smoked turkey, but it’s fair to say that, if you are time-poor, cutting yours up is probably going to be better for you. As you would imagine, a cut up turkey takes far less time to cook than a whole one, which is why so many people cut their turkey before smoking.
Not only that, but cut up turkey tends to be more flavorsome because there is a greater surface area to marinate or infuse with smoke, which ups the intensity levels significantly.
How should you cut it? Deconstructing your turkey into its separate parts, so breast, leg, wings, etc., is the simplest way to go about it, but if you have your own preferred cuts, feel free to prefer your turkey however you will enjoy it most.
What about butterflying?
Butterflying your turkey before you smoke it is kind of a compromise between leaving it whole and cutting it up, and there are some benefits. A butterflied turkey will take less time to cook than a whole one – although it won’t be quite so efficient as a fully dissected bird – and it’s a lot easier to ensure that the whole turkey is perfectly juicy too, so really, as I said above, it’s really up to you how you butcher your turkey before putting it in the electric smoker.
Should I marinate my turkey before smoking?
This is a common question asked by people when they want to know how to cook turkey in a smoker, and the answer is always, yes, you should marinate your turkey before smoking if you want to.
It goes without saying that marinating your turkey before smoking will help to ensure that your meat is as moist, tender, and flavorsome as can be. Some people prefer the simplicity of an un-marinated turkey, which allows them to taste the bird and the smoke and nothing else, and that’s fine, but for a piece of meat that really packs a punch, you’re probably going to want to marinate it before it goes into the smoker.
Do you have a good marinade recipe for smoking turkey?
Here’s one of our favorite electric smoker recipes you might like to try:
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ lime juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup wholegrain mustard
- 1.5 cups mixed sage, parsley, and oregano, freshly chopped
- ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
- ¼ cup thyme, freshly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1¼ tbsp paprika
- 1 apple, chopped coarsely
- ¾ orange, peeled and chopped coarsely
- 2 sweet onions, peeled and chopped coarsely.
- Whisk lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, and soy sauce
- Add herbs, garlic, and paprika, and astir thoroughly. Cover with film and refrigerate for 60 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse
- Reserve half for basting and use the other half to thoroughly coat your turkey. You can do this by placing your turkey and the marinade in a large container or sealable bag and shaking to ensure full coverage. Leave for 8-24 hours before smoking your turkey.
Fresh or frozen?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter much. Obviously, you won’t have to worry about ensuring a fresh turkey is fully defrosted before cooking, and a fresh turkey will taste a little bit nicer, but there isn’t much in it so do what’s most convenient for you.
How can I avoid having a dry turkey?
Turkey meat may taste amazing, but it is a very lean bird, which means there is not a lot of fat on it to keep it moist. That means you have to cook it very carefully if you don’t want to end up with a whole lot of dry meat on your plate.
The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help your turkey meat stay moist in the electric smoker, including the following:
Brining your turkey before cooking is an excellent way to stop it from drying out when it hits the smoker. Ideally, you should submerge your turkey in brine the night before you cook it, and leave it there one hour for every pound of turkey.
How do I make a decent brine?
This recipe is pretty simple, and works very well, although you can make your own adjustments to it if you prefer.
- 2 gallons ice water
- 2 cups sea salt
- 2 tbsp crushed sage
- 2 tbsp crushed marjoram
- 2 tbsp crushed thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1¼ tbsp yellow mustard seed
- 3/4 tbsp dried savoury
Mix ingredients together in a large container and place your chicken inside so that it is fully submerged. Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.
Marinate your turkey
As mentioned above, marinating your turkey is also a good way to keep it a bit more moist while it’s being cooked in the smoker.
Choose a smaller bird
Smaller birds can be cooked more quickly, which means there is less time for them to dry out.
Turkey cooking times and temperatures
Whatever else you do, you must ensure that your turkey is cooked to at least 165°F at the place where it is thickest. This will ensure that your smoked turkey is safe to eat.
Ideally, you should keep your smoker at 275 – 350°F to get your turkey just right, and you should allow 45 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey, plus an additional 45 minutes in the oven if you want to make the skin as crispy as possible.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you to cook the most amazing smoked turkey you, your friends, and your family have ever tasted. If you’re new to smoking turkey, you may need to practice a little and try out different techniques to see what suits you best, but with a little practice, you can be an amazing smoker, guaranteed.