Smokin' Turkey


My wife and I are no doubt “foodies” but what exactly does that mean? We love flavor, we love quality, we love variety; most of all we love excellence and we’re willing to go the extra mile to arrive at it.

When we prepare our turkey sandwich it’s a little more than stacking bread with some $11 a pound Boar’s Head  (admittedly, really good turkey from the deli);  nope….we approach things a little differently.

First off we purchase a couple of frozen turkeys (breast section) from the store. At around $2.40 a pound we start off ahead…..but we’re investing in our meal so our cost doesn’t end here.

  1. Brine & Thaw:  The turkeys are place in a cooler to thaw (we happen to have a small size cooler that two 8 pound birds fit in perfectly); we open a tall kitchen garbage bag and place it into the cooler, then add the turkeys, then add the brine (recipe link here..... we're partial to Alton Brown's recipe  ), and place the cooler into our spare refrigerator. The kitchen garbage bag helps with ease of cleanup but is not required.  It does keep  things sanitary and make cleanup easy however.The brining process takes a couple of days, but is essential to the moistness of the finished product as well as it's superior flavor.
  1. After 2-3 days in the brine bath the turkeys are prepared for smoking. We remove the birds from the brine, rinse the skin and pat it dry with a paper towel. Now’s a good time to remove the gizzards and whatever else may home come packed in the turkey’s cavity.  (Generally the "breast only" will not contain these, but check:)
The turkey’s now are ready to be seasoned; my wife makes a killer rub (recipe below). I first coat the bird with olive oil (or butter) as a binder, then add the rub……and lay it on thick. Some folks leave the rub on overnight or even a day or two, but I don’t find that necessary.
  1. Let the turkey’s sit out while preparing the smoker. I have a Dyna-Glow stack type smoker that I’ve owned over a year and am still getting used to. I worked for years with the Char-griller type of charcoal grill with the smoker attachment and loved it; but I changed last year as this smoker is more versatile.

I start with Kingsford charcoal and add more charcoal to my flame every hour for a consistent heat source.  Once my initial charcoal gets hot, I’ll add whatever type of wood I happen to be using. (I’m not a wood snob though I got spoiled at my old home with a hickory tree in my yard). Cherry, apple, pecan, oak, etc., just make sure it’s a hardwood.

We smoke the meat for about 5 – 6 hours and (if necessary) finish on a tray in a low temp oven; we’re looking for a temp around 165 degrees deep in the breast.  When complete, pour the juices from your meat out of the tray and place the covered turkey’s back in the refrigerator.

Once cooled (usually the next day) we’ll cut the turkeys off the carcass and slice them on our meat slicer.

TIP:  Smoking a turkey will not get you crispy turkey skin; so I remove the skin prior to slicing the meat but I will take the skin and rub all that wonderfully smoked & spicy rub all over my turkey slices.


What we end up with is moist and flavorful deeply smoked turkey which blows away anything your deli provides at about half the price.  Yes it is time consuming, but we invest in quality and excellence; and we enjoy the process.

The yield is several bags that we vacuum seal and freeze in ¾ pound portions. These 2 frozen turkey breasts yielded over 6 pounds of mouthwatering and healthy meat that can be enjoyed for months.

Trust me, this process gives us moist, fresh, flavorful turkey sealed and ready for future enjoyment.

Cost:  (2) 8 lb turkeys @ $2.39 /lb = $38.50  ( watch for sales, you can often beat this)

Brine:  $3.00

Rub: $3.00

Charcoal & wood = $5.00

Total = $50.00

Compare to 6 lbs of quality deli meat at $11.99 (which tastes nothing like our turkey) = $72.00


Note:  We use our spicy rub also on our ribs so I will usually smoke a couple racks of ribs along with the turkeys reducing the cost above for rub & smoker supplies.

Rub Recipe

1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp cayenne
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 ground dried habanero ( if you're not a fan of heat
you may omit this)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp allspice  (freshly ground)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix all together.  A small coffee grinder makes a perfect kitchen tool for
grinding dried peppers, allspice berries, peppercorns, etc.  Don't be afraid to personalize your rub to your own taste..... balancing savory, hot and sweet
as desired.  We often add coriander, dried mustard, etc. depending on what we're using iit on.   Be Creative!

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