Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey


  • 1 whole turkey (12 - 15 lbs), spatchcocked or butterflied

  • salt & pepper

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 gallons water

  • 1 - 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • smoked paprika (optional)

  • 4 Tbsp butter cut into 1 Tbsp chunks

  • 2 cups BBQ Sauce

In a large container, fully dissolve 2 cups of salt and the sugar in water. Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, up to 2 days.

Preheat smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean and oil grill grates. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Season the turkey’s interior with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Turn the bird breast-side up, keeping the skin dry with paper towels. Coat the skin with oil and season evenly with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika if using. Starting at the bottom of the sternum, carefully separate the skin from the breast, working your way up to the top of the breast. Place 2 tablespoons of butter high on each breast. Reposition the skin over the breast meat and touch up with seasoning if needed. Tuck the wings behind the breasts.

Once the smoker has reached temperature, put the bird breast side up and cover. Smoke until dark meat registers between 160 - 165 degrees Fahrenheit and white meat registers 150 - 155 degrees. Remove and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This is a good time to throw together BBQ sauce. Once rested, cut the turkey into quarters, removing the breasts from the carcass. Separate the drum stick from the thigh and the wing from the breast. Slice the breasts a half inch thick. To make the dark meat stretch a bit further, pull the meat from the thighs, shredding it slightly. Arrange the spread on a large platter.

I’ve done this recipe several times for holiday get-togethers, like Christmas or Thanksgiving. If you notice people hovering while you’re in the process of carving the turkey, quickly pick the carcass clean and cube a few breast slices. Plate the pickings and cubed breast on a separate plate and serve with a small side of BBQ sauce. Serve as an appetizer. This should buy you enough time to finish putting the final touches on the rest of the meal without people slowly creeping closer to the turkey platter. Tent turkey with foil until ready to serve. Serve with sauce on the side.

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