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The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

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November 14, 2020 | Author: Ashley McCrary

This Traeger smoked turkey is rubbed with fresh herb butter & smoked to perfection in just 3 hours. It’s Thanksgiving’s classic main dish with a flavorful twist!

This Traeger smoked turkey is rubbed with fresh herb butter & smoked to perfection in just 3 hours. It’s Thanksgiving’s classic main dish with a flavorful twist!

How to Smoke a Turkey Step By Step Video

When I first got married, I remember being terrified of cooking a turkey around the holidays. I was convinced that it was going to take hours of preparation and hours to cook. That is so false!

Cooking a turkey is actually super simple and even easier on the smoker. If you have a Traeger grill or a smoker, it’s time to pull it out and make the absolute best smoked turkey this Thanksgiving!

Why Smoked Turkey?

Thanksgiving is the best. Tons of family and friends gather for delicious food and even better company. But there’s one problem. Most kitchens have only one oven! It’s a juggling game trying to get all the amazing Thanksgiving sides prepped and cooked at the right time and still make a turkey! Enter, the smoker! My Traeger Grill smokes flavorful meat in no time at all! Also, it frees up the oven for everything else!

The best part? Your Thanksgiving turkey can be prepared, finished to smoked perfection, and on the table in just 3 hours. It’s delicious, as well as Whole30, Keto, Paleo, and Gluten-Free!

How to Smoke the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Getting Started

  1. Set the smoker temperature to 350F and preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
  2. Place your 10-14lb turkey in the sink and clean out the cavity of the bird. Save the neck and giblets for my Southern Giblet Gravy Recipe!
  3. Cut the tailbone off the bottom of the turkey and rinse.
  4. Place on a cutting board and pat the whole turkey dry with a paper towel.
  5. Gather your ingredients: ghee, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, italian seasoning, garlic cloves, salt, coarse black bepper.

Traeger Smoked Turkey

I highly suggest investing in a Traeger grill. They are seriously life-changing. I have the Traeger Pro Series 780 wood pellet grill and smoker, which is WiFi and Alexa-enabled and connects right to my phone. It’s pricier than other models but so worth it. There is literally no way to mess up a turkey with this amazing electric pellet grill!

To get the perfect smoked Turkey on my Traeger grill, I always use the Signature Traeger Pellets. They give the turkey such an amazing, smokey flavor!

Cherry or Apple wood pellets are also great options, adding a hint of flavor to the smoked turkey.

Garlic Herb Butter Rub

Smoking a turkey with a good rub base makes all the difference! Follow these instructions to make the perfect rub!

Chop the fresh herbs and transfer them to a small mixing bowl along with the salt, black pepper, and ghee (should be room temperature). Mix together with a spoon until combined.

Spread the butter mixture under the skin of the turkey, the turkey breast, and any other places you can get to on the turkey. Use a knife to separate the skin from the muscle, which will make it easier to spread butter under the skin.

Once the butter is completely covering the turkey, sprinkle the rest of the salt and black pepper over the top of the turkey along with the Italian seasoning.

Smoking the Turkey

Place the turkey on the Traeger grill (or whichever smoker grill you have) and smoke for 3 hours. Be sure to check the internal temperature after 2.5 hours for progress.

The final internal temperature of the bird should be 175F degrees in the thigh and 165F degrees in the thickest part of the turkey breast. Remove from the grill, carve and enjoy!

Peachy Tips & Tricks

Thawing

Time: The rule of thumb is 24 hours of thawing for every 5lbs, so a 15lb turkey would take 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator. Make sure to prepare in advance for thawing and give yourself enough time, otherwise, it will not cook well in the smoker.

How I thaw: I usually put our turkey in a large roasting pan with water and place it in the refrigerator to thaw for a couple of days. Refer to the thawing time above and adjust for the size of your turkey.

Seasoning & Rub

Season: Make sure you don’t under season! Season the entire turkey liberally for the best flavor. If you can’t find fresh herbs, feel free to substitute dried herbs, however, fresh is the best for depth of flavor.

Rub: Use a knife to separate the skin from the muscle to make adding the butter under the skin much easier. Don’t forget to add seasoning and butter under the skin of the turkey. This will ensure you get a juicy turkey.

Cooking

Digital Thermometer:  Using a proper smoking thermometer will read more quickly and accurately than a traditional “dial” one of those “turkey poppers” that typically come with the turkey. I use the thermometer that is attached to my Traeger, but if you want another option, click here.

FAQs

The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey: FAQs

Do I have to brine the turkey?

You don’t. For this recipe, I wanted to make it simple and easy, while still totally delicious. No need to brine your turkey for this one!

Do I need a Traeger grill for this smoked turkey?

No, you don’t. While I absolutely love my Traeger grill, you can use any smoker and get a delicious smoked turkey.

What if my turkey is bigger than 10-14 lbs?

Using a good meat thermometer is crucial to cooking a large turkey. A 15-20lb turkey would take about 3.5-4 hours to smoke but always check the temp at 2.5 hours for a progress check.

SHOP MY POST

Perfect Thanksgiving Sides for Smoked Turkey

The BEST Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Southern Giblet Gravy

Asparagus Casserole

Garlic & Bacon Mushrooms

Creamy Dreamy Mac & Cheese

Apple Pie Crescent Rolls

Spicy Jalapeño Margarita

Cranberry Apple & Rosemary Mocktail

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The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

This Traeger smoked turkey is rubbed with fresh herb butter & smoked to perfection in just 3 hours. It’s Thanksgiving’s classic main dish with a flavorful twist!

  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1014 pound turkey
  • 1 cup ghee, room temperature 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse pepper

Instructions

  1. Set the smoker temperature to 350F and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes. Place the thawed turkey in the sink and clean out the cavity of the bird. Cut the tailbone off the bottom of the turkey and rinse. Place on a cutting board and pat the whole turkey dry with a paper towel.
  2. Chop the herbs and transfer to a small mixing bowl along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and 1 cup of ghee at room temperature. Mix together with a spoon until combined.
  3. Spread the butter mixture under the skin of the turkey, the turkey breast and any other places you can get to on the turkey. Once the butter and herbs are covering the turkey, sprinkle the other 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and the Italian seasoning over the turkey.
  4. Place the turkey on the grill and cook for 3 hours. Be sure to check the internal temperature around 2 1/2 hours (just to check the temperature). The final temperature should be 175F in the thigh and 160F in the breast.
  5. Remove from the grill. If desired add 3 tablespoons of melted ghee to a bowl with 2 garlic cloves pressed and mix together. Using a basting brush, dip in the garlic ghee and brush over the turkey before serving.  
  6. Carve and enjoy.

Notes

  • If you can’t find fresh herbs, feel free to sub dried. 
  • Feel free to use a knife to separate the skin from the muscle. This will make adding the butter under the skin much easier.
  • If you want to use the neck and giblets, click here for my Southern Giblet Gravy recipe.
  • Nutrition is calculated for a 10 pound turkey.
  • Author: Ashley McCrary
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Smoker
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 302
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 554
  • Fat: 20
  • Carbohydrates: 1
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 26
  • Cholesterol: 134

Keywords: Smoked Turkey, Smoked Garlic Herb Butter Turkey, Turkey, Thanksgiving, Healthy Thanksgiving, Paleo, Whole30, Keto

7 thoughts on "The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey"

  1. Steph says:

    I’m excited to make this on Thursday, thanks for sharing the recipe! I’m guessing the answer is no but wanted to double check (first time making a big turkey), does this require any Brining?

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      I do not do not brine mine. Hope you love the recipe!

  2. Linnea says:

    Very good article. I’m experiencing many of these issueѕ ɑs well..

  3. Jennifer B says:

    Can’t wait to try this out. I had to change ingredients to X2 because I have a 25 lb Turkey. What does the cook time change to?

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I find it easier to use a meat thermometer in making sure you’re cooking thoroughly. I find if the temperature reads 180 degrees (F) in the thigh and 170 degrees (F) in the breast its usually done.

  4. Joel says:

    I like putting an herb / butter mix under the skin as well. it can be a huge mess, so I like to mix the butter and herbs, and roll it as best I can in wax paper and put it in the freezer until set, and then slice it into discs and put those under the skin of the turkey… it’s an extra step, but much less of a mess and hassle than trying to evenly distribute warm butter under the turkey skin….

    1. Ashley McCrary says:

      Hi Joel, thanks for sharing your tips. GREAT IDEA!!! Have a wonderful day.


 

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About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

About Me

Welcome to Healthy Little Peach. I’m Mac, the lady behind the recipes. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle that consists of a mix of healthy whole foods, and full-fat comfort meals. Life is too short not to enjoy good food while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Here you will find gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, and even full-fat comfort recipes. Let’s have fun in the kitchen together!

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