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A little sweetness, a little spiciness, and a little smokeyness will make this Southwest Smoked Turkey the highlight of your holiday table.
The best Turkey I’ve had was a smoked turkey a few Thanksgivings ago. I shared that recipe in my first cookbook, Smoke It Like a Pit Master. But this version rivals that first one and it absolutely delicious and very easy to make!
If you don’t have a large enough smoker to handle a whole 12-14 pound turkey, then pick up a bone in turkey breast and follow the cooking instructions above. double the butter and herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper and prepare as directed above. Decrease cooking time to 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours (depending on the size of the breast).
What Temperature is Smoked Turkey Done
Smoked turkey is done at 165°F. Use a digital thermometer to test the thickest part of the turkey (breast meat) without touching a bone. A 12-15 pound turkey will take between 6-8 hours. The best way to ensure the turkey doesn’t dry out is to use a digital thermometer that can stay in place during the cooking process.
This is my favorite thermometer as it can go in 2 place (breast & thigh) to ensure the whole turkey is cooked to the proper temperature.
|Meat||Smoking Temp||Time to Complete||Finished Temp||Wood
|240°F||6½ hrs||165°F||Hickory, Mesquite,|
|240°F||4–6 hrs||165°F||Hickory, Mesquite|
What Wood for Smoked Turkey
My favorite woods to use for smoked turkey are mesquite or hickory. For this Southwestern Smoked Turkey, I prefer the mesquite since it has a little bit of a southwestern flavor.
What Goes With Smoked Turkey
I love keeping holiday meals simple and only make my family’s favorite side dishes. Whether I make this Southwest Smoked Turkey, a Deep Fried Turkey, or a baked turkey I make the sides stay the same. So really, you can serve your family’s favorites or try a few of mine, like Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole, Slow Cooker Stuffing, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter, and BLT Deviled Eggs.
Will Smoked Turkey Be Pink
Smoked Turkey can be pink on the inside depending on the type of smoker you use. However, it will not be pink all the way through. There may be a pink or red smoke ring near the skin of the turkey when cut. To ensure the turkey is fully cooked, use a thermometer and the juices should run clear.
Can Smoked Turkey Be Frozen
Yes, absolutely! While the turkey is still warm, pull all the meat off the bones and shred with forks. Package in freezer bags, label and freeze for up to 6 months. Or plan to use the leftovers immediately, which is my favorite thing to do. I love getting creative with the leftovers, here are a few of my favorites:
Sweet Potato & Turkey Hash
Turkey, Cranberry & Blue Cheese Pizza
Turkey Pot Pie
Cranberry Turkey Sliders
Turkey Noodle Soup
- 1 12-15 pound Turkey
- 4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
- 4 1/2 teaspoons Coarse Kosher Salt
- 4 teaspoons Cumin
- 2 teaspoons Ground Coriander
- 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Prepare the smoker’s water pan according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat the smoker to 240°F. While it heats, fill a medium bowl with water and add 3 or 4 handfuls of wood chips to soak.
- Remove any turkey giblets from the cavity of the bird, then dry well. In a medium bowl, combine all the herbs and spices. Rub the turkey with olive oil and then coat heavily on all sides with rub, including the inside; you’ll use most if not all of it. Add some under any loose skin for even more flavor.
- Set the turkey directly on a smoker rack, breast side up and add a small handful of the soaked wood chips to the chip loading area. Keep adding more chips at least every 30 minutes. The turkey is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 6-8 hours depending on the size of your turkey (plan 25-30 minutes per pound).
- Remove from smoker and loosely place a foil tent over the breast to cool for 15-30 minutes before slicing.
If you don't have a smoker large enough to handle a whole 12-15 pound turkey, then pick up a bone in turkey breast and follow the cooking instructions above. double the butter and herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper and prepare as directed above. Decrease cooking time to 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours (depending on the size of the breast).