Our photo of the turkey with herbs shows the golden brown from the cooking process. Follow our smoke a turkey instructions in this blog so you can produce great results on your next turkey cook.

Smoke a Turkey with our easy to do tips will result in awesome color and flavor. Give it a try!

HOW TO SMOKE A TURKEY

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There are so many ways to smoke a turkey with the main difference found in the amount of time for both preparation and cooking.  One of the favorite methods is hot smoking whether done on a traditional smoker, charcoal grill, or gas grill.

To smoke a turkey, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Grill or Smoker plus fuel for the equipment (charcoal, propane)
  • Wood Chunks
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Dry Rub and/or Brine (about 1 cup of dry rub and 2 cups brine)
  • Whole Turkey preferably fresh and less than 18 lbs.
  • Aluminum Pan
  • Aluminum foil and towels or an insulated blanket

Preparations Before You Smoke

The cleaning of the bird is the same as when you do traditional roasting; removal of the giblets and neck, rinsing and drying the bird, and trimming any loose skin.  However, don’t truss or tie the legs as this can make it harder to cook the bird completely through when smoking.  You can use toothpicks to pin the wings in if they seem to be falling away from the bird.  If you elect to brine your turkey, be sure to start this process at least a day ahead of smoking.  Even brined birds will have more flavor if a dry rub is applied. So apply any combination of dry ingredients you prefer to the turkey, being sure to put some of the rubs under as well as on top of the skin.  Refrigerate the rubbed turkey overnight.

Once you’re ready to smoke, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and rub a small amount of oil on the skin, especially the bottom portion that will be touching the grill grates.  This will keep the bird from sticking.  Don’t apply oil to the grates as that will not guarantee the bird won’t stick!  Always place a cold turkey on the grill or smoker as cold will attract more smoke vapor.  Plan about 30 minutes cooking time per pound.

Preparing the Grill or Smoker

Charcoal Grill/Smoker:

Charcoal base with Smokinlicious® wood chunks added

When using a traditional smoker, you can simply place the charcoal and wood chunks, as normally done, for a long smoking event.  Usually, you position unlit charcoal in the firebox. Then lite a chimney starter full of charcoal and pour that next to the unlit charcoal.  Then place a few wood chunks on the lite charcoal and some on the unlit areas so you will have wood flavor infusion during the entire cooking process.  Place a disposable pan under the turkey that contains a few cups of water or mix of water and broth/stock.  This will add moisture to the cooking environment and collect all the turkey drippings if you should want to make gravy.  The goal is to maintain a cooking temperature of 225-275°F, though you can go as high as 300°F if desired.

When using a kettle-style charcoal grill, set up the drip pan and the turkey to one side of the grill, placing the hot coals on the opposite side.  You can also set up some fire bricks in the charcoal area to retain more heat and stabilize the temperature.

Gas/Propane Grill:

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking method

These grills need to be set up using an indirect method of cooking – heat on one side meaning burners on one side lite while the turkey and drip pan goes on the unlit side.  Wood chunks will be placed on the heat shields of the lit burners. These will smolder/burn giving off true wood flavor. Additionally, smoker wood chunks last a lot longer than using wood chips in a smoker box or foil pouch.  Still, maintain a temperature of 250-275°F which can be tricky.  You will have to see how many burners need to stay lit to do this technique. Then check the level of heat those burners need to be set to for that temperature.  Certainly, you can cook at a higher temperature if you like but you may need to replenish the wood chunks as they will likely combust faster.

Don’t Fuss

It’s important that you allow the turkey to cook on its own without fussing with the lid.  Each time you open the lid, you release smoke vapor as well as heat.  If you want the bird to cook in a reasonable amount of time, then leave the lid alone.

Never stuff a turkey that will be smoked as this causes the overall cooking time to extend and produce overcooked meat.  Heat flow is blocked by anything put in the cavity as well so try to avoid stuffing herbs, citrus slices, etc. in there.

Always use a quality digital thermometer.  You’re looking for the breast meat to register 160°F.  You can remove from the grill/smoker at that point.  Remember, if left sitting, the bird will continue to cook from all the radiant heat that has been trapped in the bones and meat.

Final Tips

If you need more than 18 lbs. of turkey, then consider smoking two smaller birds doing the same set up as above, just with two birds on the grill.

Feel free to mix some of your dry rubs with melted butter and a little oil and brush this mixture on the bird during the final hour of cooking.  It will produce a fabulous color to the bird and help crisp the skin.

Remember, turkeys labeled as basted or enhanced contain a salt solution so be sure you season lightly so you don’t end up with a salty outcome.

You do not need to foil or tent the turkey when smoking.  Let the air always circulate for the entire cooking process.

When cooking with charcoal, you will likely need less wood than with the gas/propane grill.

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to try smoke a turkey, so you can see just how unbelievably flavorful and easy this technique is.  Remember to leave a comment and subscribe to our channel.  Bringing you tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire and flavor – that’s®!

The Culinary Crew wants you to know…

that whether it’s smoking a turkey or any meat/protein food item, our recommendation to “Don’t Peek and Let the Smoker Apparatus Do Its Trick” is very important and can’t be stressed enough!  Be patient and keep the lid on!  You’ll be rewarded with incredible coloring and awesome flavor!  If you’re tempted to look, resist the urge by thinking of this in much the same light as many of us did when we saw that Christmas present under the tree days before Advent, all wrapped up nicely with a tag that beckons- ‘Don’t Open Until Christmas!’ Don’t ruin the joy by spoiling the element of surprise and satisfaction!

For step-by-step instructions visit our YouTube channel

For step-by-step instructions visit our YouTube channel

Smokinlicious products used in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

additional reading published in our blogs

Additional reading for subjects beyond Smoke a Turkey

Additional reading:

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-SALT CHOICES: HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND?

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke- “Smoking a turkey does not have to be limited to an actual smoker unit- remember your gas grill is an oven and can be cooked on it by adding wood chunks to give it extra flavor.”

 

This avacado recipe features melted cheese stuffed avacado inside Turkey, wrapped with Zucchini strips.!

This Avocado recipe features melted cheese stuffed avocado inside Turkey, wrapped with Zucchini strips.!

This Avocado Recipe is double stuffed for Yummy Flavor! Click To Tweet

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I love taking a basic recipe and being able to offer variations to that recipe which allows the cook to customize for those being served.  That’s why I refer to this recipe as the Versatile Smoked Avocado Loaf since you will have options in the ground meat or poultry used to surround the cheese filled avocado as well as the cheese and outer covering to the loaf.  This is referred to as a meat wrapped, stuffed avocado recipe.

I’ll walk you through my version which uses Jalapeno cheese, ground turkey, and zucchini ribbons all with whole avocado.  We’ll be smoking these mini loaves of goodness on the charcoal grill using a two-zone cooking set up.  Use my ingredients or customize for your own taste.  Either way – let’s get started.

simple ingredients, avacado, ground Turkey, jalapeno cheese and a zucchini

#meatwrappedavocado recipe

Avocado & Meat Prep

The ingredients I’m using today include 2 lbs. of ground turkey, 4 whole avocado, 1 medium zucchini, and 4 ounces of Jalapeno cheese.  To start, I make zucchini ribbons using a vegetable peeler on the length of the zucchini.  I wrap the zucchini ribbons in a paper towel as zucchini is loaded with water requiring this to dry out a bit before wrapping around our finished loaves.  Time to prep the avocados.

Start by cutting around the circumference of the avocado from stem top to bottom using a sharp paring knife.  Don’t cut into the avocado meat just into the hard, green skin.  Then twist the halves in opposite directions to separate the two halves.  One half will hold the pit of the avocado.  You can easily remove that by hitting the pit with the blade of a sharp knife then pull up which will remove the whole pit in one swipe.  Remove the skin on both halves of the avocado, leaving the avocado meat intact.

Our avacado split in half

#stuffedavocado

Avocado recipe Tasting Notes: Other options for wrapping the loaves include ribbons made of beets, carrot, leek, or eggplant.  You can also wrap these in bacon strips if you don’t mind additional fat and sodium levels.

Assembling the Loaves

With the avocados pitted and skinned, it’s time to stuff them with our jalapeno cheese.  Cut a cube of cheese that will fit perfectly into the pit hole of one half of the avocado.  Place the matching half of the avocado on top to make the avocado whole again.  Now it’s time to season the ground turkey.  Taking about 2 lbs. of ground turkey I add 2 tablespoons of Chinese Five Spice which is a premixed combination of anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger.  I also add 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, and fresh ground pepper.  Mix together well as this seasoned meat will become the wrapping around the avocados.

With the avocados filled with cheese and the ground meat seasoned, it’s now time to wrap the avocado in the meat.  I’ll be making four avocado loaves so I divide the meat into four parts.  Flattening the meat into pancake size, I place one filled avocado in the center of the meat and begin to wrap the meat around the avocado, pressing to fill any holes.  You want the meat to cover the entire avocado in an equal thickness.  Once wrapped, it’s time to apply the zucchini ribbons around the meat.  I’m using zucchini as it has a high water content which will result in extra attraction of the smoke vapor to the finished loaf.  smoke vapor seeks out moisture! Click To Tweet  Simply lay the zucchini ribbons one at a time around the meat loaf, overlapping as you go.

turkey wrapped avacado, now applying the zucchini outter wrap to hold everything together for grilling

Avocado recipe-Tasting Notes:

Avocado and cheese go together so well which gives you so many options for the cheese filling.  There is no limit to the type of cheese you can use just know block cheese rather than shredded or a spread is best.  When it comes to the ground meat, feel free to use any type you prefer: beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb, veal.  You can also use a ground fish but may find you need to add a binder like panko bread crumbs to keep it from falling off the avocado.

 Two-Zone Charcoal Smoking

grill demonstrating our two zone charcoal grill set up with wood chunks

#twozonecooking

While I’ve been preparing the meat wrapped stuffed avocados, I’ve had my charcoal grill lit using a two-zone cooking method.  Since there isn’t a lot of meat on each of these loaves, I don’t need direct heat to cook.  I’ve placed my hot coals on one side of the grill and added about four SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunks.  On the unlit side of the grill, I’ve placed a disposable pan to act as a drip pan under the grill grate.  I place my four turkey avocado loaves on the unlit side of the grill grate and allow them to cook for about 45 minutes.  At that time marker, I brush the loaves with a sweet chili sauce and allow to cook for about 15 additional minutes.

After cooking for nearly an hour on a charcoal grill set up with a two-zone cooking method, these turkey wrapped stuffed avocado loaves are perfectly smoked and flavored.  Each loaf can easily feed two or one hearty eater!  With the creaminess of the avocado, the heat of the melted jalapeno cheese, the spiced turkey meat, plus subtle flavors of the zucchini and chili sauce, this is the perfect smoked protein that can be cooked quickly. Click To Tweet There are so many variations that can be done to this stuffed avocado which truly can make this your own creation!

Avocado recipe-Tasting Notes:  

Any equipment can be used for this recipe to add the smoke flavoring.  Just know, you need to use a two-zone cooking method for charcoal grilling, gas grill cooking with wood, or electric smoking.  If using a portable grill, try to grill over hot coals over rather than direct flame.  If using a stove top smoker or plancha, you’ll obviously cook direct method.  And of course, you can always make this recipe without the added flavor of smoke in the traditional oven.

our finished avacado stuffed turkey loaf!

#stuffedavocado wrap

 

 

 

What’s your favorite ingredients for this meat wrapped, stuffed avocado?  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

 

SmokinLicious® products for this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

For more reading related to

For more reading related to- avocado recipe and other grilling techniques

More recipes like this one:

-AVOCADO CHOCOLATE PUDDING

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-EMBER FIRED FRESH ZUCCHINI

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke- This avocado recipe features a cheese stuffed avocado wrapped in Turkey! YUM