Everyone is familiar with having a turkey when it comes to holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving. Many of you are tired of eating deep-fried or roasted turkey-cock which is why smoked turkey is now liked more all around the world. There are multiple ways of smoking a turkey-cock, but the most convenient method is smoking the turkey on a pellet grill. As we know, turkey is cooked or smoked on holidays which means family gatherings. So, one does not want to irritate the guests with a lot of smoke. With a pellet grill, you can do an outdoor setting and cook the smoked turkey without any hassle. Now, the first thing that most probably came to your mind after reading this, is that how to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill. There are many important things to keep in mind because each step has its very own importance in developing the taste and appearance of the smoked turkey. From temperature setting to re-smoking the turkey-cock, here is everything you need to know.
ESSENTIAL STUFF FOR SMOKING A TURKEY:
It is important to make sure that all the important things that are required for smoking a turkey-cock are available. A slight delay in any step because of bringing a single thing can alter the taste of the smoked turkey. Get all of the below-mentioned things on hand before getting yourself ready for smoking your bird.
- The first and the most important thing, which is pretty obvious while cooking a smoked turkey, is a turkey. Now, the main part is that how to choose the bird. For knowing which sized turkey-cock is best for your occasion, first, you have to estimate the number of people you want to serve the smoked turkey. On average, one should count 1.5 lbs of smoked turkey for a single person.
- Mostly, the female bird is more tender than the male ones, that is why we recommend you to buy the female turkey for smoking. Make sure that it weighs less than or equal to 16 lbs. Well, if you are going to invite more than 20 people, then you need to buy two 16 lbs turkeys. Otherwise, you can go for 12 lbs or 10 lbs bird for few people.
- The second important thing is choosing the wooden pallet for smoking the turkey-cock. There are different flavors of wooden pellets, but for smoked turkey, the most commonly used wooden pellets are hickory, maple, apple, and cherry hardwood. These add a little sweet layer to your meal, giving it a delicious taste.
- Maple is for those who like sweet smoke, Hickory is for those who love smoky flavors, whereas a soft flavor can be added by using apple.
- The smoked turkey turns out juicy hence, it is important to collect all the dripping juice somewhere. For that, one should have a dripping pan on hand along with the pellet grill.
- One of the critical things is to set the temperature and know when the smoked turkey is ready. A probe meat thermometer will do all for you in this regard.
- Lastly, seasoning and stuffing are essential for giving flavor to the turkey-cock.
THINGS TO CHECK BEFORE SMOKING THE TURKEY:
Now, after buying the essential stuff for smoking the turkey, including the bird of the desired size, it is important to check that either the size is according to the pellet grill or not. If a turkey-cock fits easily in the grill, then you are doing it right. Whereas for safety concerns, smoking a bird that weighs more than 15-16 lbs is not recommended. As, it is important to defrost the turkey-cock before smoking it on the grill, so make sure that it is completely defrosted. Secondly, some of the people leave the turkey on the counter as it might take 2 or 3 days for defrosting. Avoid this because leaving it outside can lead to bacterial growth and the turkey-cock will be wasted. Lastly, if you are not planning to use the giblets included in the turkey, then don’t forget to remove them. Using giblets in homemade turkey may increase the cooking time of the bird on the grill.
It is unlikely to have a fresh turkey every time to grill it. Most of the turkeys are frosted when you buy them from the market. Without defrosting the turkey, one cannot grill it. So, make sure that you have done this before placing it on the grill for smoking. For every five pounds, it takes a whole day for thawing. That means, if you are planning to smoke a turkey-cock weighing 16 lbs, then it will take almost 3 days for defrosting.
BRINING THE TURKEY:
Some of the turkeys are pre-brined so, they do not need any brining so, you can take them directly to the grill. On the other hand, Brining is important for those who are not pre-brined. Brining is important because it plays important role in making the meat tender and juicy as most of the moisture is absorbed while brining. Secondly, salt is also absorbed with water giving a nice flavor to the turkey before cooking it on the grill. 24-hour brining is the desired time whereas, if you have less time, 1-2 hours will do the work as well. Moreover, if you don’t have even that much time, you can inject the solution inside the meat cells just before placing it on the grill. Add 1 tbsp salt for each cup of water, then add herbs and spices. You can personalize it by adding your favorite vegetables like onions, carrots, or celery. Cook until the salt dissolves completely. Lastly, keep in your mind that the temperature of the brine is not more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
RINSING AND DRYING:
No matter you have brined the turkey to grill it or not, you must rinse it with cold water. After rinsing, dry it with a paper towel by tapping thoroughly.
STUFFED SMOKE TURKEY:
Stuffed turkey is liked by most people nowadays and it is trending world widely. All you have to do is put your stuffing inside the turkey’s cavity. It will get cooked along with the meat on the grill. Also, you can cook the stuffing before you are ready to grill it, as it will remove your doubt that the stuffing is undercooked.
TRUSSING BEFORE SMOKING:
Trussing is not necessary but it has some benefits as it prevents the turkey from getting overcooked hence, many people suggest trussing it before placing it on a grill. All you have to do is close the neck flap by using a long wooden skewer, then under the shoulder, tuck the wings so that, the turkey has a flat surface. Lastly, tie the legs of the bird with the help of the kitchen twine and, the turkey is ready to be on the pellet grill.
SETTING THE PELLET GRILL AND GRILLING SMOKED TURKEY:
- At first pre-heat the pellet grill for about 15 minutes at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Now, coat the surface with seasonings to add the taste into it before placing it on the grill.
- Rubbing canola oil on the turkey’s surface is important to grill it, whereas doing the same inside the turkey is also important for getting it cooked completely.
- Take an aluminum disposable pan and place the turkey-cock on it before placing it on the grill as it makes sure that the turkey doesn’t get dry.
- Facing the breast side upward, place the turkey-cock on the grill. The breast side is thicker and it needs to get more cooked. Hence, to prevent undercooking, it is recommended to place it with the breast side up.
- Now, grill the turkey for about 2.5-3 hours at this temperature.
- After this time, increase the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and cook it for another 3-4 hours. Grill it until the innermost part of the turkey’s breast reaches the temperature of 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For assessing the temperature of the meat, use the probe meat thermometer as it will let you know the turkey’s temperature.
- After removing the turkey-cock from the grill when it is cooked, leave it at rest for at least 15 minutes.
USE OF DRIPPINGS:
When the turkey is cooking on the grill, some of its fat melts. Also, the flavor drippings are collected in the container. After the turkey is cooked, remove it from the aluminum plate and add the drippings into the turkey’s gravy. This will enhance the taste of the turkey way too much.
SMOKED TURKEY COOKING TIME:
The cooking time of the smoked turkey on the grill depends on the size of the turkey and the temperature of the smoker. Well, if you have adjusted the temperature somewhere between 220-250 degrees Fahrenheit, then the turkey will take 30-45 minutes for each pound to cook. Whereas, if the temperature of the grill is about 275 degrees Fahrenheit, then each pound will take 20-30 minutes to grill. On setting the temperature at more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the turkey will take only 15 to 20 minutes to cook each pound of the turkey.
FREEZING THE LEFTOVER SMOKED TURKEY:
It is usual if your turkey is left even after the occasion but you don’t want to waste it. No need to worry because you can store it for some other day as well. If you have enough space, then freeze the turkey along with the bones. Whereas if there is some sort of space issue, you can either divide the turkey into smaller parts or remove the meat from the bones and store it in a container. Wrap it in multiple layers of foil and it’s ready to go in the freezer. You can grill it again anytime you want.
EATING THE LEFTOVER AGAIN:
Eating the leftover turkey is not anything that needs to be hidden. It’s good not to waste the food. Now, as you have placed the turkey by wrapping it in the foil, it’s time to consume that. There is no need to cook it twice because it is already cooked well on the grill. Just place it on the grill at the temperature of 300 degrees Celsius directly and it will get warm enough to eat. For re-heating, the temperature of the inside turkey should be 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The whole process of re-heating will take only 20 minutes as we are not cooking it, but RE-HEATING.
TIPS FOR MAKING AN EXOTIC SMOKED TURKEY ON PELLET GRILL:
- You can mix different exotic wood pellets to give a perfect smoky tone to your turkey.
- Do not use excessive wood pellets as it may alter the real taste of the meat.
- The brining of meat locks in the moisture, so if you forget to Brine it, it will affect a lot on your smoked turkey.
- After Brining, if you put the turkey into the refrigerator for the whole day, that will be ideal for the meat.
- Avoid carving the turkey before placing it on the grill.
- The internal temperature of the meat tells either the turkey is cooked or not. For that, you must have a meat probe thermometer.
Everyone wants to make a good impression on their guests at some special gathering. Bad flavored or burned food not only spoils the day but also makes one embarrassed. Smoking a turkey on a grill, especially a pellet grill, is not an easy task as one has to take care of many factors while cooking it. From purchasing the raw turkey to reheating the leftover of it, we have discussed every step that plays a major role in its cooking on the pellet grill. Among these steps, the most common question people ask is that how much time the turkey takes on the grill to get fully done. As explained multiple times, it depends on the size of the bird as well as the temperature. We hope you will get your turkey cooked well and delicious on the pellet grill by following our guide.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKING A SMOKED TURKEY ON PELLET GRILL:
Cook a delicious, juicy, and exotic turkey on a pellet grill while enjoying the gathering around you. The smoky taste will be worth the effort!
Calories: 705 kcal
Servings: 13 people
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 4 hours
Resting time: 15 mins
Time to brine: 8 hours
Total time: 12 hours 35 mins
- 15 lbs thawed turkey (removed giblets)
- 4 liters water
- A cup of kosher salt
- At first brine the turkey. For this, take 4 liters of water in a wide container and mix a cup of kosher salt in it. Keep mixing until it dissolves readily.
- Now, place the turkey in the container with having brine solution. Try to submerge the maximum of the turkey in the solution and cover it with a lid if possible.
- If you have time, then put the container for 24 hours in a refrigerator. Also, Brining 1 hour for each pound will work.
- Choose the wood pellets of your taste and set up the pellet grill.
- Now, take the turkey out of the refrigerator and separate it from the brine solution.
- Pat dry the turkey with a paper towel thoroughly.
- Set the temperature at 180 degrees Fahrenheit and place the turkey on the grill.
- After passing two hours of smoking the turkey, increase the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Now, to check that either the turkey is cooked or not, grab a thermometer.
- When the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, that means the turkey is done.
- Take the turkey out and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Enjoy the juicy and tender meat.