Looking for the Ultimate Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe? Discover the Perfect Method, Sides, and More! — Are you ready to take your Thanksgiving feast to the next level? Look no further than this perfect smoked Thanksgiving turkey recipe + sides guide. Get ready to impress your guests with a mouthwatering, smoky turkey that will have them coming back for seconds (and maybe even thirds!). But we’re not stopping there – we’ll also show you how to create a delectable smoky giblet gravy and share some must-try smoked side dishes. Plus, we’ve got a detailed recipe for smoked macaroni and cheese that will leave everyone begging for the secret. Get ready to elevate your Thanksgiving meal to epic proportions with these incredible smoked dishes. Let’s dive in and get smokin’!
The Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey
Why Choose a Smoked Turkey?
Smoking a turkey low and slow for Thanksgiving isn’t just a method; it’s an art form that offers a twist to the traditional oven-roasted centerpiece. It’s an easy way to prepare it, infusing the bird with a moist, smoky flavor that oven roasting simply can’t match. Moreover, smoking the turkey outside in a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker frees up precious oven space, allowing for a more stress-free holiday as you prepare the myriad of side dishes that complete the feast.
Preparing the Turkey: To Brine or Not to Brine?
There’s a common debate among chefs and home cooks alike about the efficacy of brining a turkey. While brining in a mixture of water, salt, and sugar the night before can add moisture, I prefer to skip this step. Why? Because brining often results in a turkey that retains too much salt for my liking. Additionally, while you can buy pre-brined turkeys, I don’t recommend them either; it’s hard to gauge the quality and the duration the turkey has been sitting in the solution.
Choosing Your Turkey
When it comes to selecting the star of the show, fresh, organic, free-range turkey meat is my go-to for its lean and flavorful qualities. That said, if your budget or availability dictates otherwise, a name brand frozen turkey can work just fine. Just be sure to purchase an appropriately sized turkey for your smoker, ideally between 12 to 14 pounds.
Pre-Smoking Turkey Tips
- Completely thaw the turkey in advance. A frozen turkey can be a safety hazard and unevenly cooked disaster.
- Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity. These can be used later for a delectable Smoky Giblet Gravy.
- Rinse and pat the turkey dry. This helps the skin crisp up and the rub adhere better.
Stuffing for Flavor and Moisture
Stuffing the turkey with fruits and vegetables not only prevents the turkey from shrinking but also adds an additional layer of flavor and moisture. This method ensures each bite is infused with the essence of a Thanksgiving harvest.
The Perfect Herb Rub
The secret to a crispy, flavorful skin lies in the herb rub. The combination of olive oil, butter, garlic, thyme, sage, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, and rosemary creates a symphony of flavors that penetrate the meat, leaving a lasting impression on your palate.
Smoking the Turkey
Time and Temperature
Patience is key when it comes to smoking a turkey. At a steady 225°F, you’re looking at approximately 6.5 hours of smoking time, or 30 to 40 minutes per pound. This low and slow approach ensures that the turkey is cooked through without drying out.
Monitoring the Cook
Throughout the smoking process, it’s important to regularly check the vent and water pan, adding more wood chips and cider/water as needed to maintain moisture and smoke level. Remember, the internal temperature of the turkey should reach 165°F to ensure it’s safe to eat and perfectly juicy.
Resting the Turkey
Once cooked, the turkey should rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring that each slice is moist and succulent.
Creating the Perfect Smoky Giblet Gravy
Building the Base
Gravy is the heartwarming, flavor-packed condiment that brings everything together on your Thanksgiving plate. For the Smoky Giblet Gravy, start by simmering the neck and giblets in water for an hour to create a rich broth. The cooked liver, heart, and kidneys should be diced and set aside for later.
Thickening with Roux
Using the drippings from the smoked turkey, pour them into a pot and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in flour to create a roux, which will thicken the gravy. For an added depth of flavor, wine can be cooked down before incorporating the giblet broth, whisking continuously until the desired consistency is reached.
Add the diced giblets into the gravy, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. If the gravy is too thick, cream or extra broth can be added to achieve the perfect pourable consistency.
Must-Try Smoked Side Dishes
Smoked Vegetables: An Array of Options
Vegetables take on a new life when smoked. Try russet and sweet potatoes, green beans, and Brussels sprouts for a variety of textures and flavors that complement the turkey.
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese: A Crowd Pleaser
Macaroni and cheese is a beloved classic, and when smoked, it’s elevated to a whole new level of deliciousness. The combination of sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheese, with a hint of nutmeg and a crunchy breadcrumb topping, makes for a side dish that might just steal the show.
Smoked Yams: Simple Yet Spectacular
Sweet potatoes smoked on the top rack of the smoker for 2-3 hours become incredibly tender and flavorful. Whether served with butter, salt, and pepper, or mashed with butter, cream, maple syrup, salt, and nutmeg, they’re a sweet addition to your Thanksgiving spread.
Detailed Recipe: Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 6 TBS unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 10 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1-1/2 tsps sea salt
- 1/2 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 TBS unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
- 3 quart disposable foil baking pan
- Bring a 4-quart pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook the macaroni as directed on the box until slightly al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In the same pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Gradually whisk in the flour to form a roux, cooking for 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
- Gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook until the mixture thickens.
- Add the grated cheeses to the milk mixture, stirring until melted and smooth. Season with sea salt, nutmeg, and black pepper.
- Combine the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni and pour into a 3-quart disposable foil baking pan.
- In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with the bread crumbs and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Sprinkle this mixture over the macaroni.
- Smoke the macaroni and cheese in the smoker set to 225°F for about 1 hour, or until it’s bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
As you can see, smoking a Thanksgiving turkey and its accompaniments is not just about following a recipe—it’s about embracing a tradition with a smoky twist. With the right techniques, flavors, and a little bit of patience, you can create a memorable meal that will leave your guests thankful indeed. So fire up that smoker, and let’s make this Thanksgiving one for the record books!
FAQ & Common Questions
Q: Can I smoke vegetables along with the turkey?
A: Yes, you can smoke vegetables such as russet and sweet potatoes, green beans, and Brussels sprouts during the last 2 to 3 hours of smoking the turkey.
Q: What are some popular smoked Thanksgiving sides?
A: Smoked macaroni and cheese, smoked green beans, and smoked Brussels sprouts are popular Thanksgiving sides that can be prepared in a smoker.
Q: How long does it take to smoke a Thanksgiving turkey?
A: The total time for smoking a Thanksgiving turkey is 7 hours, with 1 hour of preparation time and 6 hours of smoking time.
Q: What type of wood chips should I use for smoking?
A: Apple or pecan wood chips are recommended for smoking a Thanksgiving turkey.
Q: Do you have any smoker recipes for vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs?
A: Yes, you can find some great smoker recipes for vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs here.