Smoking a whole turkey for a large group of people can be intimidating- but don’t let it scare you! Read on to find out exactly how to smoke a turkey on a Traeger, Pit Boss, or other pellet grill. This smoked turkey recipe will help you to achieve a flavourful bird that is juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Smoked turkey is an excellent main entree for Christmas, Thanksgiving dinner, Easter, or any other time that you need to feed a big crew! As a bonus, putting the turkey in your smoker will free up precious oven space for things like sourdough hot cross buns or other sides that might go with your feast!
I don’t care who you are, cooking a turkey is no small feat!! Read the recipe in full + make sure you have enough time to thaw the bird, brine it, and then smoke it. If you love my smoked turkey recipe, please leave a review and share on social media!
BRINING THE TURKEY
The next step in your Thanksgiving adventure is to brine your turkey. Brining is essential for your turkey to maintain moisture and become juicy and tender during the smoking process. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the brine helps turkey, a traditionally lean meat, retain fat content while it is cooking and prevents it from drying out.
A brining kit makes this process incredibly simple. A good brining kit comes equipped with a bag to put everything in, a brining mixture and seasoning for the turkey. To brine your turkey, add the brining mixture and four cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully add this to one gallon of cold water and place into the bag with the turkey. Close the bag and refrigerate for 1 hour per pound of turkey. We strongly recommend completing this process the night before you plan on preparing your meal.
The Perfect Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub
Hello All! Today I’m letting my hubby Justin do a take-over on the blog with this incredible smoked turkey recipe we prepared for a small gathering the other weekend. With it being the holiday season we had a turkey in our freezer that just needed to be thawed for a less formal occasion.
That’s the beauty of a smoked turkey, it’s a more casual approach to a bird that is often prepared for formal occasions. This smoked turkey recipe can be enjoyed any time of year; winter or summer, it’s a delicious and easy dish to prepare.
If you’re the kind of chef that likes to set it and forget it, then this is the turkey recipe for you. It’s simple, it’s versatile and it’s gosh darn easy and delicious. The patience required to pull off this recipe is hard but it is so worth it in the end and the results will truly shine for themselves.
Heck, if I can make a turkey on the Pit Boss…anyone can! I’ll let Justin take it from here.
Why smoke a turkey?
Smoking your turkey is a long process of love but it is one that’s pretty hands off and basically just requires patience. In time your turkey will be finished cooking and with that, you will have a crispy skinned bird with juicy meat inside. Together every bite is a wonderful combination of flavor and taste. Even the leftovers taste incredible!
How do you smoke a turkey in a pit boss pellet smoker?
One of the easiest ways to smoke a turkey on a Pit Boss pellet smoker is to spatchcock the turkey, then place it right on the grill grate to cook. The spatchcock method allows for even cooking of the bird and gets more surface area of the turkey browned and crispy.
There’s nothing better than juicy, tender meat underneath perfectly crispy and browned skin. This is the BEST smoked turkey recipe when you follow along with the step by step instructions. It doesn’t get much easier than this!
For this smoker method, I kept the temperature lower at 300F for most of the cooking time, then increased the temperature to 350F for the last half an hour to reach that ideal level of browning and crispiness on the skin and seal in the moisture.
What kind of pellets should I use?
I recommend the Pit Boss competition blend pellets, but you can use any pellets you prefer. If you want to stick with the pit boss brand then you have a lot of great and flavorful options including charcoal pellets, Georgia pecan, mesquite, a classic blend, hickory, apple, and fruit-flavored too.
Pick and choose which ones you want and create a wonderful and subtle taste of heaven in every bird.
Note that you do not have to stick with the Pitboss brand pellets for this recipe if you do not want to. Other brand pellets will work just fine in this recipe and can offer you a bigger flavor variety as well.
Is a pit boss smoker electric or gas?
Pit boss makes smokers that are electric and they make some that are gas. For this recipe, I am using my gas smoker but you are more than welcome to use an electric smoker if your turkey can fit.
Note that you can still use wooden pellets inside of your electric smoker so go right on ahead and enjoy a smoked turkey that is sure to have you dreaming of the holidays all year long.
How long does it take to smoke a turkey on a pit boss smoker?
Cooking time all depends on the size of your bird and if you use the spatchcock method or not. We went with a smaller-sized 5-7kg young turkey, and the total smoking time was 2.5 hours.
If you have a larger turkey, but still use the spatchcock method you can estimate approximately 25 minutes per kg, so a larger 9kg turkey will take approximately 3 hrs and 45 minutes (using the spatchcock method).
What is spatchcock turkey?
Spatchcocking means to butterfly the bird. This is when you remove the backbone of the chicken or turkey and lay it out flat to cook. When you do this, the cooking time significantly decreases and the bird cooks faster and more evenly.
With a more level surface space, the breasts and the thighs can cook and finish at about the same time instead of one before the other. There’s also more skin exposed to the heating elements so that means that the skin gets even crispier.
Should I spatchcock my turkey?
If you have the space for it, I always recommend it. This added butchering step really helps to provide you with the best holiday turkey results. By spatchcocking a turkey you can really shave down on the amount of time needed to cook it. By a rule of thumb, an oven-roasted turkey that was spatchcocked would take about ⅓ of the required time to cook.
When you smoke a spatchcocked turkey you allow more surface to be exposed for the flavorful pellets to penetrate as well so that means that your entire bird tastes incredible and that no areas are left unflavored.
So it is up to you whether or not you would like to try this method of cooking but there really are no downsides to it. You will need some strong kitchen shears and a large sharp knife to do this as that backbone can be a bit tough to get out, but after that, it’s practically as easy as a cakewalk!
Should you wrap a turkey in foil when smoking?
No. When spatchcocking a turkey, wrapping it with tin foil on the smoker is not required. Nor is it desired.
You want the smoke to penetrate the meat during smoking and tin foil would prevent this key aspect of the cooking. Not only that but it would also prevent the turkey from browning too much so you’d be left with a plain looking bird instead of one that’s golden delicious!
Also, because of the relatively short cooking period, the turkey is not at risk of getting dried out and therefore you don’t need to worry about covering it with foil to help seal in the moisture.
Without foil, this crispier skin turkey is still super juicy and delicious!
Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub Ingredients
To prepare this smoking turkey, and the barbecue rub, you do not need many ingredients. The rub is very simple to make but packs a ton of flavor.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Maple BBQ Rub:
The combination of sweet and salty works so well with the smoky flavor created by the Pit Boss and the rub creates a nice crispy, caramelized skin that locks in the moisture of the turkey meat.
How To Prepare, Step-by-Step:
While Christal is a great cook, she definitely is not a pro with the Pit Boss. So, I walked her through the process of preparing her first smoked turkey and she was pleasantly surprised at how easy it really was.
This is pretty much a “set it and forget it” recipe. The great thing about smoking a turkey as compared to oven-roasting is that you don’t have to baste the turkey over and over again to avoid a dry bird.
Here’s what you’ll do:
1. Spatchcock the turkey with kitchen shears, then open it and lay flat. Place it cut-side down on a large baking/roasting pan. Then, rub 1 tablespoon of butter all over the turkey skin.
2. In a bowl combine the dry rub spices with the maple syrup and mix, then pour over the turkey and rub all over the skin, into the breast and legs to generously coat, then set aside.
3. Turn on the Pit Boss and set the temperature to 300 degrees F, pre-heat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the turkey directly from the pan onto the Pit Boss grill grate and close the lid.
5. Smoke for approximately 2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
6. Increase the smoker temperature to 350F and baste the turkey with the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and smoke until internal temperature reaches 165F(approx. 30 mins). A larger bird takes longer.
7. When finished, remove turkey from the smoker, cover with tin foil and let rest for 15 minutes, then carve as desired, serve, and enjoy!
Whether you are new to the smoker world or are a smoker master, you’ll love this simple Pit Boss smoked turkey with maple bbq rub. It’s easy, delicious, and great for a small gathering of friends or family.
Serve up this smoked turkey for thanksgiving dinner or throughout the year so you can also make the most epic leftover turkey sandwiches (if there is any!). There’s never a wrong time for a delicious turkey dinner!
Have you ever made a whole turkey on a Pit Boss? Tell me about it in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save for later!
If you want to avoid all the mess, try a dry brine instead.
Rinse, dry then cover the entire bird with a layer of kosher salt and desired seasonings, such as black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, or whatever else you add to your favorite turkey brine recipe.
Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.
Just before smoking, wipe off the excess moisture and salt, and season with the dry ingredients of herbs, spices, and seasonings.
How long does it take to smoke a turkey on a pit boss?
How long does it take to smoke a turkey at 225?
What temperature do I smoke turkey on pit boss?
Place turkey in preheated smoker, directly on grill grate, and smoke at 450°F for one hour. Then reduce the temperature to 225°F until the internal temperature of the turkey breast 165°F. Make sure you place a pan on the rack under the turkey to catch the drippings.
Is it better to smoke a turkey at 225 or 250?