Whether it is for the upcoming Thanksgiving or any occasion or time of the year, you can always rely on this smoked turkey recipe on a Big Green Egg to get your food cooked.
Turkey is one of my favorite foods to cook.
It is easy to make but I also enjoy the challenges of cooking such a large bird with different parts in one smoker.
The main challenge when smoking turkey is dryness.
More often than not, you will end up with a cooked bird, but the meat’s texture is almost falling apart from the dryness.
There should be a right balance between the tenderness of the turkey and the juiciness in it.
This is hard to achieve if you have a bad smoker or cooking appliance to cook the turkey in.
If you invest in the best smokers or grills such as the Big Green Egg, you will be able to eliminate some of the challenges, or at least the grill will make it easier for you.
So with this delicious take on the turkey recipe and your Big Green Egg grill, I will share with you how to make the best turkey for the first time at home to get you ready for the next big occasion and present a perfectly cooked bird.
This method uses a roasting pan so if you do not have one then you might want to get a roasting pan or a similar alternative.
Smoked Turkey Recipe
- 14-pound turkey
For The Brine
- 1 gallon of water
- Half cup of brown sugar
- 1 rind of navel orange
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 garlic head, halved
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 10 sprigs of sage
- 3 cups of chopped potatoes
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder to taste.
Step 1: Clean And Trim Turkey
The first step is to defrost the turkey overnight in the fridge so you do not leave cold spots in it, especially on the interior.
Rinse the turkey first thing the next day once it is ready with cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel.
Remove the trimmings such as the neck and unnecessary parts but leave them on the side.
These parts can be used later when you are making the gravy before serving it.
Step 2: Brine The Turkey
Pour the gallon of water in a large bowl or a large resealable plastic bag if you have a very large zip lock bag.
Add the salt, sugar, garlic head, rosemary, orange rind, and two-thirds of the quartered lemons.
Note: I recommend mixing the brine in a bowl first to mix it well until the sugar and salt have dissolved. You can then transfer the brine in the zip lock bag once it is ready.
Mix the ingredients well and once the sugar and salt dissolve, place the turkey in a large zip lock bag or any large container to hold the turkey and the brine.
Pour the brine over the turkey and make sure that the brine completely covers the turkey.
Massage the brine into the turkey if you have it in a zip lock bag before putting it in the fridge.
Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for at least 12 hours but no more than 24 hours.
Flip the turkey over occasionally to get the brining liquid on all sides of the turkey while it is being refrigerated. The brining process will give you a more tender brined turkey when cooked.
Step 3: Prepare The Big Green Egg For Smoking
On cooking or smoking the turkey, soak 2 cups of hickory wood chips in about 10 cups of water for at least 30 minutes or an hour. I like using pecan chips for this recipe to give it a hint of smoke flavor.
Set the coals in the firebox of the Big Green Egg while waiting.
Fire up the lump charcoals and then set the Big Green Egg temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can choose the temperature according to your liking, I like getting a crispy skin on my turkey and hence this temperature seems good for me.
You can even cook your turkey at 250 and how long you need to cook it also depends on the temperature so keep these things in mind.
Put the wood chips or wood chunks over the hot coals and then install the convEGGtor plate insert on the grill.
Allow the grill to produce smoke by closing the lid of the Egg and opening the bottom vent and top vents slightly.
Preheat the grill for at least 20 minutes until it reaches the target temperature.
Step 4: Stuff And Season
Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine.
Rinse the turkey with cold water and then pat it dry with paper towels before you stuff it with the remaining lemon quarters and onion quarters.
Add the thyme, sage, the remaining halved garlic head, and 1 cup of potatoes. This will add extra flavor to the turkey and combine the subtle smoky flavor to it.
Brush the outer part of the turkey with olive oil, season it with pepper and garlic powder, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Make sure that you get the seasonings on the entire turkey.
Step 5: Smoke The Turkey
Place the turkey in a drip pan with the remaining potatoes scattered around it. If you have the roasting rack available, you can use that too.
Place the roasting pan on the grill and then close the lid, allow it to cook without constantly opening the lid.
If the turkey starts to brown too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
Reserve the drippings on the pan for making a delicious gravy later on.
Smoke the turkey for 12 to 15 minutes per pound. For this 14-pound turkey that we have, you will need to smoke it for about 3 hours to cook it all the way through.
Insert a meat probe or into the thickest part of the breast of the turkey and another on the dark meat like the thighs or wings.
The safe minimum internal temperature of the breast should be around 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
As for the wings and thighs or the parts that have bones in them, the internal temperature you are looking for is 175 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure that the turkey is safe to eat.
Step 6: Make It Juicy
Once the turkey has reached the internal temperature we talked about, remove it from the Big Green Egg and then let it rest on a cutting board for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature.
While waiting, cook the gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey.
Letting the turkey rest after cooking will allow the juices to come into the meat again and make a moist turkey so if you poke it with a fork, the juices should be clear.
Carve the turkey and then serve it with the potatoes and the gravy! You can also make wonderful sandwiches if you pull the smoked turkey.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Turkey On The Big Green Egg?
The rule of thumb is to smoke the turkey for 12 to 15 minutes per pound.
That means that a large turkey like the one we have just cooked with the recipe above will cook for 3 hours.
It can take up to 4 hours if the temperature inside the turkey is still too cold.
It is important to know the turkey’s internal temperature when you cook it to make sure it is safe.
Measuring the internal temperature with a meat probe is the most accurate way to determine whether the turkey is cooked or not.
So I recommend investing in a good meat probe or temperature probe.
What Temperature Do You Smoke A Turkey On A Big Green Egg?
Big Green Egg grills are not meant for slow cooking or indirect cooking as they are grills. They are not initially meant for producing indirect heat.
They are perfect for producing high and intense heat that can sear your steaks or burgers quickly.
However, these grills are ceramic which means that they can hold low temperatures as well.
So smoking in the grill is perfectly fine as long as you control it properly.
Big Green Egg, the company itself says that the perfect temperature to smoke a turkey on the grill is at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
So make sure to follow both the cooking time and the temperature set on the recipe to cook the turkey properly.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Turkey At 225?
Since a Big Green Egg grill is powerful, it is difficult to reach lower temperatures.
That is why the smoking temperature that we have on the recipe is pretty high for smoking.
If you have a regular smoker who can reach temperatures lower than that, you should use it.
At 225 degrees Fahrenheit, the turkey will cook slower and become tender slowly.
At that temperature, the turkey will need to be cooked for longer at about 30 minutes per pound.
That means that it will take around 7 hours for our recipe above to finish if you go with that temperature.
You have a better chances of getting a crispy skin at higher temperatures. I personally like the crispy skin on the outside but not many people are fixated over it is up to your liking.
What Size Turkey Fits In Large Green Egg?
There are many models that you can choose from Big Green Egg.
You can get small and portable ones for when you want to cook something while camping or tailgating.
The most common or sought-after designs are far larger than portable ones.
You can get the large Big Green Egg about 18 inches in diameter so it is pretty big.
For a medium-sized Big Green Egg, you can cook a 12-pound turkey in it.
A large Big Green Egg can cook up to 20 pounds of the whole turkey at once with the large cooking space.
Should You Wrap A Turkey In Foil When Smoking?
You don’t need to cover the turkey with foil while it is smoking.
Since the low and slow cooking temperature is set, the turkey will not likely burn or turn brown quickly.
However, if you cook at a higher temperature, there is a tendency for the turkey to turn brown too quickly.
That is the time when you cover the turkey with foil to prevent it from becoming too dark.
Covering the turkey would be more appropriate by the end when you are letting it rest.
You can use aluminum foil and a towel to cover the turkey while it rests to insulate it properly.
Should I Smoke My Turkey Breast Up Or Down?
Aside from the fact that it is aesthetically pleasing, cooking the turkey breast side up or down does not make any difference, especially with the juiciness of the turkey once it is cooked.
Cooking the turkey with the breast side up is the widely accepted way to smoke it.
I have tried both up and down method and I find the up method more convenient but let me know in the comments what would you do, cook the turkey with breast up or down?
It does get to protect the meaty part of the turkey but the overall finish is not that affected.
If you want a cheat sheet for cooking turkey in the Big Green egg then this is a cheat sheet on their official website which explains the temperature and time needed to cook a turkey.
However, I recommend cooking the turkey breast side up since you can balance the turkey more evenly with its back on the grill grates or cooking grates than the curvy breast side of the turkey.