Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey

One of our favorite holidays here at Humphrey's is Thanksgiving!  So many dishes can be made in the smoker!  My favorite is smoked turkey.  Here is how I prepare it start to finish using the Humphrey's Weekender!  There's always the debate of Brine, inject or both.  Here's  a great article showcasing the pros and cons of both.  I think I'll agree with Steven Raichlen's theory of just brining the Heritage turkey!

First, I start with the brine.  I like to have the bird sit in the brine for a min of 12 hours a maximum of 24 hours.  Depending on the space you have in your fridge during the holiday prep you may want to invest in some brining bags. These are clear bags made specifically for the brining process.  The only thing that I don't like about them is that I find that I need to flip the bird and bag 1/2 way through.  What I do like about them is that I can set it into a cooler with ice and it frees up the room in my fridge.  An alternative is a 5 gallon CLEAN bucket.  I like using these the most because I can submerge the bird in the brine.  

Here's how I make the brine:


  • 3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
  • 2 gallons Cold Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  • Peel Of Three Large Oranges

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.  Allow to completely cool.  

While it's cooling I get the bird prepped by removing the giblets from the cavity of the bird.  I then trim any excess sign and fat from the ends.  Then I give it an ice cold water bath.  Once rinsed I place the bird into a brine bag or 5 gallon pail.  

Once the brine is cooled I pour it over the bird and then tuck it into the fridge or cooler for 12-24 hours.

Now onto the compound butter.  I love making herbed butter.  I make it the night before so that it will flavor up.  For turkey and chicken I like to use Sage, Thyme and Rosemary.  I peel the leaves away from the stems and then finely chopped the  leaves.  I like using my Kitchen Aid mixer because the whip attachment makes quick work of it. I use 4 tablespoon of freshly minced herbs to 1/2 pound of butter which is good for a 14-18# bird.  Once whipped, I will roll it into a log using plastic wrap and then set it into the fridge until needed. 

About 16 hours later, I start up the smoker.  I will set it to 300-325 degrees.  The general rule is is 15 mins per pound at 300 degrees or 13 minutes for 325 degrees.  I do find that by using a brine speeds up my cooking time a bit. I set the Humphrey's Weekender with a Thermo Stone and a full size tin tray on top filled 3/4 of the way with water. 

The next debate is whether to cook the turkey traditionally or spatchcock it. For this demonstration, I cooked it traditionally.  Here's a great read written by Serious Eats showcasing the spatchcock process pro's and con's.  I personally have not seen a huge difference cooking it either way with birds between 14-18 pounds.  

Now that my smoker is preheated, I take the bird out of the brine and submerge it into cold water bath for 15 minutes, being sure to wash away all the salt.  Pat it dry.  30 minutes prior to doing this, I take my compound butter out of the fridge so that it will soften up, or sometimes, if I am running behind, I will melt the butter in the microwave and baste it under the skin and on top of the skin.  This butter step is very important.  This is what is going to give the skin an amazing color and the breast meat a savory flavor.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!


 Now I tie the drum sticks together and pin the wings back.  Set into the smoker to be showered with smokey goodness!  I check in on it after two hours, then every hour until it reaches 158 in the thigh.  We are getting close to the finish temp, so I will start checking it more frequently, 20 mins at a time to 10 minutes at a time until it reaches 165 degrees.

Once it reaches 165 in the thigh, I remove the bird from the smoker and tent it with foil to rest.  Slice and enjoy!


It's really that easy!!!  

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.