Smoked turkey is a crowd-pleaser. Not only is the poultry big enough to satisfy a standard group of people, but it also turns into a savory delicacy upon smoking.
Using an electric smoker is the least cumbersome way to make your turkey. It is easily controllable and safer than the others.
Special attention should be paid throughout this process to ensure that the turkey gets fully smoked. It is a big bird and if not careful, the intended flavors and texture may not be well distributed in all parts.
Some people believe that electric smokers are not as authentic as traditional wood or charcoal smokers. On the contrary, they are equally capable of producing great results.
Turkey’s meat has many benefits. It falls in the category of white meat. Topped up with the smoky flavors acquired through burning wood chips in an electric smoker, the meat is mouth-watering.
Our main aim of this article is to offer turkey-smoking tips for electric smoker owners.
Steps to Follow when Smoking Turkey
1) Select a Turkey
Making a choice on which turkey to buy may seem like a simple task but it can be challenging when you don’t know what to look for.
Options are many but the rule of thumb is: choose a turkey with no additives. Read the packages and bypass any that shows additional flavors and seasonings. A natural turkey makes it easy for you to choose the seasonings, brine, and injectors you’d like to rub on it.
Thaw your frozen turkey before starting other preparations on it. Thawing takes it from the freezer’s temperature to room temperature.
Frozen turkey poses health risks when smoked in that state.
3) Remove the Unwanted Parts
Most people prefer to smoke their turkey without the neck and the internal parts such as the gizzard. They are easy to separate.
You may decide to cut its chest open to remove these parts or pull them out through the available openings.
After that, run cold and clean tap water over the turkey and clean it thoroughly. Remember to wash the inside part as well.
4) Salt the meat
This activity is also known as brining. It is done to enhance the retention of moisture as well as adding flavors.
If you are not familiar with this process, following a recipe can help explain how to marinate or brine a turkey before it’s smoked.
The excess brine is removed by rinsing the turkey. Pass it under running water for the second time. Pay close attention to the inside part.
Let it dry for 10 to 24 hours. The longer it takes, the more the brine penetrates the internal parts of the poultry.
6) Seasoning and Injecting Turkey
The bird is seasoned after sucking in all the brine. Both dry and wet rubs are recommended for use.
The cavity is rubbed using the dry seasonings and the outer part is rubbed using wet seasoning because it is retained longer than the dry one.
The wet rub is made of a mixture of olive oil and other ingredients such as black pepper, ground garlic, and others. Apply it in all areas of the turkey especially the breast and under the wings.
7) Prepare the smoker
Wood Chips are burnt over the burners of the electric smoker to produce smoke. Selecting the correct type of wood is important because flavors differ depending on what you use.
Hardwood makes the best smoky flavor for turkey. Mesquite and hickory are to be avoided at all costs. Their flavors are too strong for your turkey and may end up overpowering it.
Cherry and applewood are the best for smoking the big bird. They are sweet flavored and subtle therefore blending in well.
Set the electric smoker at a temperature of 225° F to 250° F. As it preheats, coat the grate with oil. This prevents the meat from getting stuck on it.
Place the turkey on the grate. For each pound, it weighs, set forty minutes. If the bird is two pounds, you’ll be required to cook it for 80 minutes and so on.
To maintain moisture, keep basking the meat using vegetable oil. Butter can also be used instead.
Pin your digital thermometer into the smoking poultry to check its internal temperature. At 160° F, your turkey is perfectly cooked. Take it off the smoker and let it rest for a while before serving.
Smoked Turkey Recipe
For a more practical smoking experience, here is a step-by-step recipe with deeper details.
- Wood chips
- Electric smoker
- Spray bottle
- One Turkey (10-15 lb)
- 1½ tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon black pepper (ground)
- ½ tablespoon sage
- ½ tablespoon thyme
- ½ tablespoon bay leaf
- Dry rub
- Separate the turkey’s giblets, gizzard, and neck from the other parts.
- Rub the internal part using the dry rub and the outer part with the moist rub.
- Mix the ingredients meant for the brine injection. Simmer them while stirring in low heat.
- Put them in an injector.
- Trace a pattern on the turkey and pin the injector needles after every one inch of the meat.
- Inject the brine to the turkey by pushing the plunger inwards.
- Set a temperature of 225°F on the electric smoker.
- Place the wood chips inside the smoker box and let them heat up. The smoke will start forming. You can also use wood chunks as smoke agents.
- Coat the grate with vegetable oil.
- Smoke the meat for 10 to 12 hours. Its internal temperature should read 165° F when well cooked.
- When ready, take it out of the smoker and wrap it using foil paper.
- Let it rest for 30 minutes to one hour before serving.
Smoked Turkey Health Benefits
Turkey is white meat. Eating it has a ton of advantages to your health, especially when smoked at the right temperature.
Zinc and vitamin B are among the nutrients you acquire from eating the bird’s lean meat. Their levels are high and the calories are lesser than those gained from chicken and other meats.
It is highly proteinous. The meat fills your stomach for a long time and prevents you from taking unnecessary snacks.
Factors to Consider Before You Choose Your Turkey
Size of Your Smoker
First, check how much meat your smoker can handle. You’ll know this from prior experience with other sizes of meat. If you are new to it, read the instructions to know its maximum capacity.
This will help you decide the size of turkey that can fit on it and get smoked perfectly.
The size of Turkey
Turkey is chosen according to the required number of servings. A recipe can guide you on this. Most turkeys weigh from 8 to 14 pounds.
If one does not weigh enough pounds, combine two or more and smoke them together.
The condition of the turkey should be a priority. Fresh and well-packaged meat is recommended.
Another factor to consider is if it requires thawing or defrosting. This will guide you to make your preparations early. Get the meat at room temperature before rubbing and injecting it.
Whether you are making it for Thanksgiving, BBQ party, family dinner, or weekend delicacies, smoked turkey always leaves people wanting more on their plates.
The key to making this dish savory is getting the measurements for the rubs and injector. Don’t put too much or too little of either.
Setting the correct temperature on the electric smoker prevents the meat from turning out too dry or crispy. The vegetable oils come in handy in keeping it moisturized throughout the process.
It is a big bird and it requires more time to cook than other poultry. Direct your attention to the internal temperature rather than the time spent. Patience is required during slow smoking.
Try out more recipes and have fun while smoking your turkey!