The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey
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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
- Set the smoker temperature to 350F and preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
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
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.
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.
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!
No, you don’t. While I absolutely love my Traeger grill, you can use any smoker and get a delicious smoked turkey.
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.
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Perfect Thanksgiving Sides for Smoked Turkey
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The Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey
- 10-14 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carve and enjoy.
- 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.