This tutorial will show you how to smoke a turkey will become your go-to source for smoking turkeys. We include how to season your turkeys before smoking to bring out the best flavors.
1. Determine How Many Turkeys To Smoke
To begin, it’s best to figure out how many turkeys you can fit on your smoker. We use a Weber Smoker (I believe it is the Weber 711001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 14-Inch Charcoal Smoker). There is plenty of room for us to fit 2 small-ish turkeys on the bottom and 2 on the top racks.
The great thing about smoking multiple turkeys at one time is quite economical. For the same quantity of charcoal and wood chips, you might as well smoke 4 turkeys rather than 1. Even if you are not going to eat them all or give them away immediately, you can freeze them and enjoy them later.
2. Season the Turkeys
We use a homemade seasoning blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. To make it, simply combine equal parts of each. My husband guestimates that two tablespoons of each should be enough.
Once you have made the blend, rub it all over the turkeys the night before you plan on smoking them. We have found that placing the turkeys in a huge zip-top bag makes it easy to store them in the refrigerator.
NOTE: If you purchase frozen turkeys, be sure to completely thaw them before smoking them. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, there are three safe ways to thaw turkeys: 1) in the refrigerator, 2) in cold water, and 3) in the microwave. I recommend the first method which actually takes longer, but in my opinion, it is a safer route.
You will need to do a little math to figure out how long to thaw them. According to the USDA, it takes 4 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below. Be prepared for them to “leak” as they thaw and the juices start to run. It’s good to place them in a container to catch the juices and to help prevent any contamination.
3. Prepare the Smoker
For the best results, do not use lighter fluid. To prepare your smoker, place charcoal in the smoker bowl and top it with a couple of lighter cubes. Ignite the cubes.
4. Add two turkeys.
You should be able to fit 2 nice-sized turkeys on the lower rack of your smoker barrel. Insert a digital thermometer into a section of one of the turkeys that is really meaty. (If you purchase a new thermometer, check for one that can use with your cell phone to monitor the internal temperature of the turkeys.)
5. Add wood chips.
Next, place applewood chips on top of the smoking charcoal briquettes. Place the barrel of the smoker on top of the charcoal.
6. Add additional turkeys.
Put the top rack in place and add two more turkeys on top and then cover the smoker.
7. Monitor the smoking process.
Periodically check the smoker to ensure that it is in the ideal smoking range. (You do this by checking the dial gauge on the smoker.)
Smoke the turkeys until the thermometer probe reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the probe and turkeys from the smoker.
a. Place charcoal briquettes in the smoker bowl.
b. Nestle 3-4 lighter cubes among the briquettes.
c. Light the cubes.