Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means you have probably had turkey on your mind for the last couple of weeks. This was my first year with myTraegerand I couldnt decide if I wanted to spatchcock a turkey or go with the traditional version, so I did both. Keep reading to get ALL the info on the 2 ways to smoke a turkey!

2 ways to smoke a turkey

People everywhere are always looking for new ways to cook up a turkey. Youve got the oven, the bbq, infrared, smoked, deep fried.and all are great and everyone who eats it will be satisfied. But lets talk about brining for a second. There are a couple different ways you can brine. A wet brine, where you stick the bird into a bucket of water, juice, salt, and seasonings. Or there is the dry brine, where you rub salt and seasonings all over the bird and let it sit in the refrigerator.

But, in my opinion, the key to a perfect turkey is dry brining and heres why:

1. You dont have to stick your turkey in a bucket full of salt water. (I had a family member forget about the turkey that they were brining and it rotted in their garage. Major MAJOR gag)
2. The bird soaks up the water from the wet brine which will result in a juicy turkey, but its mostly water. Dont water your bird down!!
3. A wet brineuses more salt and takes up more space thandry brine. Dry brine uses less salt and is also best for getting that super crispy skin.

2 ways to smoke a turkey

Now that we have talked about brining, lets talk about the couple of ways to prepare your turkey. Spatchcock and Traditional. I like both for different reasons.

Spatchcock will cook more evenly because you have flattened the bird out. To spatchcock, you simply cut alongside the backbone to remove it, flip it over and press down until the turkey is laying flat. I also like to take it a step further and inject the meat.

With the traditional method, you keep everything together. Obvi! I like to stuff it with lemons, oranges, onion, fresh herbs and garlic. You want to stay away from stuffing it with bread stuffing as the risk of the stuffing having bacteria is higher. Stuff with items you will discard.

2 ways to smoke a turkey

Lets get to the recipes shall we!



    Dry Brine:
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 2 tbl dried rosemary
  • 1 tbl marjoram
  • 1 tbl red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbl dried thyme
  • 2 tbl garlic powder
  • 1 tbl dried basil
  • Apricot Bourbon Spatchcock Turkey:
  • 1 12-14 lb turkey, backbone removed
  • 1 bottle of apricot bbq sauce
  • 1 cup of bourbon
  • Traditional Herbed Turkey:
  • 1 12-14 lb turkey
  • 1 cup of butter or ghee, softened
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1/2 orange, cut in half
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbl of chopped sage, marjoram, and oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme


    Dry Brine:
  1. Pat your turkey with a paper towel.
  2. Mix your dry brine ingredients together and rub it all over the turkey. Place uncovered on a sheet pan into your refrigerator. Brine time is about 1 hour per pound.
  3. Apricot Bourbon Spatchcock Turkey:
  4. Turn your smoker to 225 degrees F.
  5. After you have dry brined your turkey, take the turkey and remove the backbone by cutting along each side and pulling out. Flip the turkey around and lay flat on a sheet pan.
  6. Take 1 cup of the apricot bbq sauce and 1 cup of the bourbon and mix together. If you have a meat injector inject the mixture into the bird.
  7. Brush the mixture all over the turkey making sure you get underneath the skin. Tuck the wings and place the sheet pan into the smoker.
  8. Let it smoke at 225 until the internal temp of the turkey breast hits 100 degrees. Once it hits 100, brush some apricot bbq sauce over the entire turkey. Turn the smoker up to 350, brushing the bbq sauce on the turkey every 45 minutes.
  9. Cook until the breast reaches 160 degrees. If you have a hot spot in your smoker make sure you rotate the pan so that one side of the turkey doesn't get burnt.
  10. Remove from the smoker and let rest until you are ready to eat.
  11. Traditional Herbed Turkey:
  12. Turn smoker to 225 degrees F.
  13. Make a mixture of the softened butter (or ghee) and the sage, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. Set aside.
  14. Cut up the lemon, onion, and orange and stuff into the cavity of the turkey. Place fresh rosemary sprigs in and add and optional head of garlic.
  15. Release the skin from the bird and take half the butter mixture and rub it all over the meat under the skin. Take the rest of the butter mixture and rub it all over the entire bird.
  16. Tie the turkey legs together with some twine and place the bird onto a sheet pan.
  17. Put into the smoker and let smoke until breast is 115 degrees.
  18. Up the smoker to 350 and start basting your turkey with the juices that are on the sheet pan. You want to baste every 20 minutes until the internal temp of the turkey is 160 degrees.
  19. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.

OVEN METHOD:If you dont have a smoker, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place your turkey on the lowest rack and let roast for 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes, baste or brush on the bbq sauce and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue to baste or brush every 20 minutes until the turkey equals 160 degrees internally.

You can switch the flavors around and do the herbed one on the spatchcock turkey and vice versa! Save the traditional turkey carcass for the most amazing bone broth ever!

2 ways to smoke a turkey

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