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Ingredients:

Whole Turkey, 12-14 pounds

Cold Water, 2 gals (or enough to cover turkey completely)

Kosher Salt, 1½ cups for each gallon of water

Clarified Butter, 8 ounces

Granulated Sugar, 1½ tablespoons

Supplies:

Food-safe bag or container (look for the food safe symbol – a wine glass and fork)

Drip Pan (if you want to catch drippings to make turkey gravy)

Wood Chunks (pecan, apple, cherry, alder, etc.) if smokier flavor is desired

Turkey Rack (optional, though hot turkeys are easier to remove from the grill on a rack)

Thermometer (preferably a digital dual-probe smoking thermometer)

Aluminum Foil

homemade-smoked-backyard-turkey-kamado-grill-

Directions:

The Brine

There is plenty of controversy over whether or not a turkey (or poultry in general) should be brined. We prefer the flavor and juiciness of brined meat, but encourage you to research the topic and come to your own conclusion.

To brine, place the thawed turkey into a food-safe container and completely submerge with water. Add 1½ cups Kosher salt for each gallon of water used. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours, then rinse well and pat completely dry with paper towels.

Tips:

  • Completely thaw turkey before brining (allow approximately 1 day in refrigerator for every 3 pounds of meat that needs to be thawed).
  • Remove the bag of giblets included with the turkey before brining. Look for it in the neck cavity.
  • Don’t brine a turkey that has already been brined. Over-brining can dry out the meat and cause it to taste very salty.
  • Feel free to add herbs and spices to brine solution. Oregano, sage, bay leaves, and thyme all go well with turkey.
  • We recommend kosher salt as it dissolves more easily than table salt. If you choose to use table salt, however, cut the salting rate by half.

The Cook

Place your lava stone in the Kamado and heat the grill to 275oF. Place a drip pan underneath the turkey rack if you intend to collect the drippings for gravy, otherwise, the lava stone will keep the drippings from causing flare-ups. Before placing the turkey on the grill, coat it thoroughly with clarified butter.

Clarified butter will give you that classic golden brown turkey and is simple to make at home. Simmer ½ pound of unsalted butter until most of the water has boiled off (it will stop bubbling after 30-45 minutes), shut off the heat, skim the milk solids from the top, then ladle out the clear butter remaining.

Insert one temperature probe into the thickest part of the turkey breast and set the other to measure the ambient temperature of the grill. Once the breast meat has reached 145oF, add the granulated sugar to the remaining clarified butter and heat up. Brush the sugary butter all over the turkey and let the breast meat reach its final temperature (165oF). Check the thickest part of the leg meat and make sure it’s 175oF. Once final temperatures are met, cover the turkey with foil and let rest for 30-45 minutes. Carve and Enjoy!

Tips:

  • You’ll likely have to remove the 2nd tier cooking grate to make room for the turkey rack.
  • Make sure that the turkey doesn’t sit in any juices.
  • Periodically dump juices that have collected inside the turkey into the drip pan during the cook.
  • Don’t overcook! If overcooked, the meat will dry out and the brining process will have been for nothing.
  • Don’t use the pop-up thermometer.
  • Don’t use regular butter – it will burn.

22 Comments

  • Michael Rice says:

    Sounds great. At 275 degrees at what rate will it cook in this grill per pound?

    Thankss

  • Austin Veteto says:

    For a whole turkey at 275F, I would allow for 15-20 mins/lb. Definitely rely on your thermometer to gauge doneness, but that should get you in the ballpark.

  • John Morabito says:

    When I saw a wine glass in the supplies. I thought you were recommending a wine to drink while smoking and eating the turkey.

  • Chuck Smith says:

    I use a rub of Morton’s Garlic Salt and cover the turkey with strips of bacon about 1″ apart.
    I place it on an elevated cooking rack with a pan under it to catch the drippings for flavoring the stuffing that my wife makes.
    Some of the drippings are also used in the giblet gravy she makes as well.
    275 degrees is perfect and about 20 minutes per pound works as well.
    I ALWAYS check with a thermometer for doneness, as the smoking process seems to impart a pinkish tint to the meat.
    I LOVE my Vision Grill !!!!!

    • Dennis says:

      What type of wood do you use for smoke? I think I am going to use your idea of bacon on the top. It sounds awesome!!!!

      • Tony Ruffo says:

        Long ago folks used strips of pork fat to “bard the bird”. This helped to keep it moist. Using bacon has the same effect but with the added bonus of flavour.

        • Ed says:

          Disagree with this general statement. Long ago people cooked wild game birds which have less fat. For example, barding is a roasted pheasant is necessary because the meat has so little fat content. Nowadays barding a farm-raised turkey or chicken is totally unnecessary, as these farm raised birds have plenty of fat under the skin.

          • Eric says:

            Isn’t what he described about keeping the meat moist exactly what you said they did for wild birds? I agree that it’s not as necessary with fat, farm-raised poultry, but it does keep the white meat moist while allowing the dark meat to hit 175. Plus, when has adding bacon EVER been a bad idea?

        • Ramblin Wreck says:

          White meat in poultry cooks faster than dark meat so the challenge with turkey and chicken is to get the dark meat done enough without drying out the white meat. Placing bacon over the breast limits the heat going into the breast meat – the heat is absorbed by the bacon as it’s cooked. I fully cover the breast with thick slices of bacon for all but the last 30-45 min and my white meat always comes out very moist and never over cooked. I don’t think the bacon adds any flavor but the drippings make an awesome gravy. Been doing this for twenty years and always have people asking how I get the white meat so moist.

  • Lauchlin says:

    I’ve done the brining and smoking before and the turkey was without a doubt the most moist best tasting turkey ever! My tip would be to rinse the turkey really well and when you figure it’s rinsed enough…rinse it again!
    However the gravey was so smokey it was hard to eat. Any suggestions?

  • Steve Ewing says:

    Brining gets my vote, we tried it last year.
    My wife found a vertical roaster for chicken. I was able to extend the center part with a clean vegetable can and 3 pop rivets.. it can hold a small (12 lb) turkey in the cladding “beer can” pose. Delicious!

  • Bob Andretta says:

    How large a turkey will fit in the grill?

  • Tim says:

    I use a mix of water and a gallon of fruit juice (Apple, cranberry, or orange) and a pound of brown sugar for my brine. I would also suggest coating the bird with a mixture or fresh cracked pepper, garlic salt and olive oil. It’s easier than clarifying butter. Finally, I stuff my bird’s cavity with quartered oranges, onions and celery.

  • Wayne Buchanan says:

    Bob…I have done 20 pounders in mine and will do one again this year. I don’t brine because I don’t like the salt and I use olive oil and cracked pepper and a little salt for a coating to start and finish with a thin brown sugar and O J glaze. That makes the outside very nice. If you don’t want your drippings to get too smokey put a cover on your drip pan and poke a hole in it. Imagine an automotive oil change pan in your grill. If you put it directly on your heat deflecting stone, insulate it with something or it will get a burned flavor also. I use a piece of high temp gasket material. I also stuff the cavity with fresh herbs from my wife’s green house. Rosemary Thyme Sage etc…Cook it low and slow…250 to 275 for about 6 hours. I use a thermapen for a thermometer but don’t really need one. When the leg bone gets loose you are good to go. After the turkey rests you can draw the bone right out if you get it just right

  • Bob Andretta says:

    Thanks Wayne, sounds great. I also don’t like salt so will try your suggestion. One question, 6 hours for a 20 pounder?

    • Wayne Buchanan says:

      That’s close enough. If you use the usual rule of thumb, 15 to 20 minutes a pound, you end up at 5 to 6 hours. What I have found is that missing long is better then missing short. don’t burn your bird or cause major temp swings by opening your grill every 5 minutes to look at it. Missing low with temp means longer cooking times but no harm done to the meat so start early. I use mesquite chunks from Mexico and fire up a good load. Set the “air in” vent to about 1.5 and “air out” to 1, adjust as necessary. I like 250 to 275 F. Put in the stone and drip pan and the turkey on a rack and go watch football and take a nap for about 4 hours. Check it out and go back to the football games. The beauty of these grills is that they are very forgiving. If you think it is done and the rest of the dinner isn’t ready just damp the grill way down and don’t worry about it. It won’t dry out and it won’t get cold unless you are like 12 hours early. We need turkey pics

  • Twelvefield says:

    I’ve smoked turkeys and I’ve roasted them with bacon.

    1) 20 min per pound is about right, although it depends on your temperature and if you open the lid to baste/peek. If you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’. So you have to resist the urge to look. A meat thermometer is essential, though, since birds vary considerably.

    2) Don’t brine a brined bird, like a Butterball. However, do brine a free-range turkey! My brine is 1 cup salt + 1/4 cup sugar per gallon water. Kosher salt dissolves the best, but you may need a bit more of it. Taste the mixture, it should remind you of slightly sweet seawater. Some people like putting spices in the brine, I say fuggedaboudit. If you must, use seasoning salt instead of regular salt.

    3) Dry the bird, and then dry it again. The bird must be as dry as possible. Coat the bird with clarified butter. If that bothers you (lactose intolerant?) grapeseed oil is OK, or olive oil.

    4) To avoid basting, cover the bird with bacon! Yes, bacon! When the bacon is cooked, so is the bird. The fat in the bacon renders off and auto-bastes the bird. Your gravy will be the elixir of the gods, and with the fat content, yes, you will see God sooner if you aren’t careful. Be sure to collect the drippings! I use the dual-layer grill: turkey on the top layer, drip pan on the bottom layer, and firestone in its rack below. This limits the size of turkey you can bacon, though. When you make the gravy, make sure you have a good gravy separator cup.

    4a) Make sure to cover with extra bacon the top of the breast and the legs and wings. These parts of the bird dry out the fastest. If you cook the bird beercan style, you can’t do this. However, if you can fit the bird in your BBQ beercan style, it’s probably small and won’t need basting, like a big chicken.

    5) Smoking the turkey is great! You will get pinkish meat which looks underdone. That’s why you need the thermometer to be absolutely sure. I use a mix of apple, cherry, and alder. For a turkey, heaviest on apple. Maybe a dash of hickory, but not much. If you want gravy, don’t smoke more than 1/4 your cooking time. So if you expect 6 hours, just smoke for 1 hour or so. I prefer smoking earlier in the run a) because it’s easier to get the smoking wood into the pit at the beginning, b) you’re not opening the lid, and c) the gravy shouldn’t over-smoke. If you don’t want gravy, then you can certainly smoke longer. The turkey-bacon-smoke smell will drive your neighbours nuts! I prefer using chunks of wood over shavings since the smoke is less intense and lasts longer. If you bacon your bird, you can expect a bit of a shorter cooking time, since you are not opening the lid for basting.

    Hungry? I sure am. I’m thinking of making a practise turkey just for today… yummm…

  • Gary H says:

    Using a very old Kamado. 16 pound bird is all that fits in – so that’s what we shoot for. Today’s 15 1/2. Bird was wet brined, with some spices, orange, lemon juce and rinds added – for about 14 hours. Air dried in fridge for about 24 hours. Then early this morning, rubbed down with garlic oil and minced garlic, and a great rub.

    Wanting indirect heat, for years now, I’ve stacked two aluminum pans (small ones) – with 3 short pieces of small (3/8″ ? rebar) in-between to provide a bit of space. Throughout the cooking, I keep water in the space. It boils producing steam the entire time. Go hot for the first 30-40 minutes – to get some browning , then flip the bird over for the next 2 2/12 hours, or so – looks like it was around 250-275 for a while – then down to 225 — then flip it back breast side up for the last several hours.

    Using apple and a bit of hickory today. Will keep putting a few chips in as the day goes on. And, will do most of the cooking at about 225. If it starts to look like I’m running a bit late come time to have it off and resting – I’ll bump the heat up to what ever I need for the last 30-min to 1 hour. Will baste from time to time.

    Expect that total time usually runs about 6 -6 1/2 hours, because of the cooler temp than most are using in these grills; so it’s still not cold-smoked – but rather close. Always comes out with a beautiful skin, and extremely juicy white meat.

    Still can’t remember this morning, whether or not i put a loose foil over it. Certainly have at some point in time – don’t think I will today. We’ll see.

    You folks send me an email – and I’ll shoot you back a picture.

  • David says:

    Christmas Eve dinner is almost here, so it’s Turkey Time Again. When folks mention cooking temperatures are you referring to a probe at the the grate level or the dome thermometer? I have a dual probe remote thermometer, so I could control to either the grate temperature or the dome and would like opinions on which is preferable. Of course I’ll judge when to take it off by the temperature of the second probe that is in the meat.

    • Thanks for the question, David! When we refer to cooking temperature, we mean a probe at grate level. We’ve found that grate-level measurement gives the most accurate idea of the temperature at which the food is cooking.

  • Cliff says:

    This will be the first time I’m going to smoke a turkey. Read a lot on it, and have a question. Do you use a moisture source? Like when doing a beer can chicken? Everything else seems simple…275 degrees, Apple wood first hour, etc…Have I missed anything?

  • Carol says:

    Where would I find a turkey rack?

    I just got the Vision Grill for Christmas and am anxious to get started. The customer replies are very helpful. I’ve successfully smoked turkey and ribs on a very, very basic $69 smoker for years and have learned not to add the smoking wood until near the end to avoid a whole night of smoke burps! I haven’t tried limited use of the wood at the beginning but will look into it. The old $69 smoker was a pain in the butt to use and really unpredictable. I may keep the water pan from my old smoker to use in the Vision. Something for the Vision folks to consider.

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