Monday, November 23, 2015

Smoked Turkey on a Traeger Pellet Grill

Thanksgiving is about spending time with friends and family.  Not being stuck in the kitchen cooking.  Cook that bird on your smoker on the patio and get out of the kitchen.

This method requires an overnight brine so collect everything the day before your meal.

What you'll need

  • 1 12-14 pound fresh or thawed turkey
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter (3 sticks)
  • 5 gallon bucket or stock pot
  • foil pan large enough for the turkey
  • heavy duty foil to wrap the turkey
  • 2 cups of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 gallons of water (1/2 gallon of which is ice)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup course ground black pepper

The afternoon before prepare your brine by adding the kosher salt and sugar to a medium sauce pan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Pour salt/sugar concentrate into bucket, add ice and water up to 2 gallons.  

Prepare your turkey by removing the neck, gizzards and truss, if pre-trussed.  Trim off excess skin and fat near the cavity and neck.  Place turkey in bucket with brine.  If it want's to float place a plate or two on top to keep the turkey submerged.  Cover bucket and place in fridge until ready to cook the next afternoon.

The next afternoon start your Traeger on smoke, once the fire is lit set it to 180 degrees. Remove your turkey from the brine.  Remember there's a cavity full of water so make sure to do this over the sink, otherwise you'll have brine all over the place.  Set your turkey down on a cookie sheet to prepare it for the smoker.

Mix up the kosher salt and pepper in a shaker, sprinkle the rub on all parts of the turkey, don't forget the cavity!  There is no need to tie up the legs and wings with this method.  The fan in the Traeger pushes air all around the turkey during the cook.
Put the turkey on the grill at 180 for 2 hours, 225 for the next hour and finally 325 to finish it off.  Place it so the legs/thighs are towards the hotter area of your smoker and the breast to the cooler side.  Check the turkey after a couple hours for color.  When it reaches your desired color place it in the foil pan.  Cut up the butter into squares and pile them on the turkey.  Wrap in heavy duty foil and put it back on the smoker.  Cook until temperature in the breast reaches 165 and the thigh reaches 180.  Remove from smoker and allow to rest 30 minutes before carving.


  1. So what is the total cook time?

  2. Just like a traditional turkey cooked in the oven your cooking time will vary. You're cooking to a temperature of 165 degrees in the breast. This cook took me about 3.5 hours.

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  4. Trying this for Christmas Day.Linda,Florida

  5. The flavor of the meat was good, but I found the turkey too salty. Not sure I would add much more salt prior to cooking.

  6. A plate or two on top to keep the turkey submerged. Cover bucket and place in fridge until ready to cook the next afternoon.Emily

  7. So approx two to 3 hours in you put on foil pan?

    1. It really comes down to the color of the skin. When you get the desired color cover in foil. Will probably take a couple hours.

  8. 2 hours at 180, 1 hour at 225, how long at 325 ???

    1. 18 lb'er went 3 hr @ 325. Breast was 165 degrees, while thighs were around 180. Best turkey I ever ate. In fact I'm doin' a 20 lb'er for Christmas, Monday. Only thing I MIGHT change is the foil piece of the process. Skin was kind of chewy (but tasty)...

    2. Left the foil step in place but sub'd light baste of olive oil for the butter, because one guest is dairy allergic. Skin was less chewy, and 13 guests were blown away by the flavor and the moistness. Definite winner yesterday...

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