Active Time: 30 MinsTotal Time15 Hours 40 Mins
Yield: Serves 10

This is the only smoked turkey recipe you will ever need. The herb brine brings all the wonderful flavors of the Holidays: Thyme, Rosemary and Sage, all made for turkey, with a balancing sweetness from the light brown sugar and the perfect amount of salt to round it all out. Dry-brine the turkey and let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator to dry out the skin so that it crisps up and turns deep amber when cooked. After the turkey is brined, carefully loosen the skin and rub softened butter underneath. This is the key to juicy, full-flavored meat. We suggest hickory chips to give the smoke a classic flavor. Turkey is safe to eat when the thickest portion reaches 165˚F, but that’s not the temperature to look for when the bird is still on the smoker. Instead, remove the turkey at 155˚F, and cover loosely with foil. The meat will continue to “cook” as it rests and will remain tender and juicy.


  • Herb Rub
  • 1(12- to-14-lb.) whole fresh turkey or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups hickory chips

How to Make It

Step 1

Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for another use. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon herb rub in cavity. Reserve 1 tablespoon herb rub, and sprinkle outside of turkey with remaining herb rub; rub into skin. Chill turkey, uncovered, 10 to 24 hours.

Step 2

Stir together butter and reserved 1 tablespoon herb rub. Loosen skin from turkey breast without totally detaching skin; spread butter mixture under skin. Replace skin, securing with wooden picks. Tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine, tuck wing tips under, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal fire in smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, bringing internal temperature to 225°F to 235°F. Maintain temperature inside smoker 15 to 20 minutes. Place hickory chips on coals. Smoke turkey, breast side up, covered with smoker lid, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of turkey registers 155°F, 5 to 6 hours.

Step 4

Remove turkey from smoker, cover loosely with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

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