Apple Wood-Smoked Turkey Recipe

Thanksgiving turkey
Iain Bagwell / Getty Images
  • 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 1 turkey (12 to 15 servings)
Ratings (17)

This smoked turkey recipe calls for brining the bird for hours in a fantastic maple syrup-apple cider mixture and then slow smoking it to perfection.

It's absolutely delicious and perfect for the holidays or pretty much any time of the year. If you love smoked turkey, you're going to love this recipe!

What You'll Need

  • 1 (12- to 15-pound) turkey (dressed, rinsed, and patted dry)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 quarts apple juice (or apple cider)
  • 1 to 2 quarts water (use enough so the turkey will be fully submerged)

How to Make It

Brining the Turkey

  1. In a large container, mix together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, and apple juice or apple cider until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the turkey and soak in the brine for at least 16 to 24 hours in a non-metal container covered in the fridge.

Smoking the Turkey

  1. Start a grill using a good amount of charcoal. Once the coals are ready, spread them to the outside of the grill. Set a pie pan filled with water in the center of the coals.
  1. Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it off with water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on the top cooking rack. Toss a handful of soaked or unsoaked apple wood chunks on the coals (unsoaked wood seems to give a better-tasting smoke flavor). Cover the grill and add charcoal as needed.
  2. You might need to adjust the air intake vents from time to time to raise or lower the temperature but, generally, they should be wide open to avoid too much smoke building up in the grill.
  3. Turn the bird 180 degrees about 1 1/2 hours into the smoking to ensure even cooking.
  4. An 8-pound turkey breast usually takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours with cooking temperatures between 230 F and 280 F. A whole turkey will take longer. On average, it takes about 21 minutes per pound of bird or until an instant-read thermometer registers 175 F.  Remove from the grill and wait at least 10 minutes before carving.
  5. After it's carved, if not eating immediately, you can put it in a slow cooker on low with a small amount of water in the bottom. It helps keep it warm, moist, and actually enhances the sweet smoky flavor of the bird.