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Smoked Turkey: How and Why

Updated on May 16, 2016
How to Smoke a Turkey Recipe
How to Smoke a Turkey Recipe | Source

A Favorite Holiday Food Project

Foods that we don't ordinarily eat is one of the best reasons to look forward to the holidays. Like most people, I have a specialty that serves me well. Actually, it’s not so much my specialty as it is my husband’s.

The thing is, I get to make “specialties” from it--soups, sandwiches, appetizers--all of which make me look like a great cook. He really gets the credit, though, because the smoked turkey is the ingredient that gets my party menus so many compliments.

The broth and the meat both add subtle flavor to whatever I use them in, causing guests to ask for recipes. For instance, I particularly like to use the broth when making pumpkin soup.

A Smoked Turkey Recipe

How or why the chemistry of it all works out so well is beyond me, but my husband said I could share the recipe with you. He also mentioned that his method is a simple recipe that anyone can follow. I'll just say that it is delicious and useful, and get on with this post.

Use these Ingredients with an Electric Smoker

  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda, 365 Brand is Our Favorite
  • 1 Gallon Apple Juice, Use a High Quality Brand
  • 3 Pieces Mesquite Wood, Each Piece Should Be About the Size of an Egg
  • 2 10-ish Pound Turkeys, Fresh or Thawed
  • 2 Large Bay Leaves, Fresh is best, but dried is fine.
  • 4 Pears, Peeled
  • 2 Oranges, Peeled
  • 1 Box Aluminum Foil, Long and Heavy Duty
  • 6 Tablespoons Salt, High Quality
5 stars from 1 rating of Mesquite Smoked Turkey


  1. Clean out turkeys by removing any packets from their interiors.
  2. Cut four large pieces of aluminum foil, two for each turkey, making sure the foil is big enough to seal around the birds.
  3. Place each turkey in the center of two stacked pieces of foil. Put two pears, an orange, and one bay leaf inside each turkey. Heavily salt the outsides of the birds. Loosely seal the turkeys into foil packets.
  4. Following your smoker's directions for safety (read all of the directions for your appliance), place mesquite wood in the bottom.
  5. Place the basting pan (the pan for liquids) in its rack above the burner. Fill the pan with 1/2 gallon apple juice and 1 liter of lemon-lime soda. (Remember that as the hours click by you will check this pan and resupply it with these two ingredients.)
  6. Put one turkey on the bottom rack, the other on the top rack. Put the lid on the smoker and turn it on according to manufacturers instructions. Check the liquid level in the basting pan every 2 to 4 hours, adding juice and soda as needed to keep it full.
  7. Smoke turkeys for 8-9 hours, depending on the outdoor temperature.
  8. Turn off smoker, remove lid, and allow birds to cool for about an hour. When you can safely handle them follow all the normal food safety procedures for using and storing meat.

Benefits of Having a Smoked Turkey On Hand

Though I do help prepare the turkey, my husband attends to the bird in the smoker throughout the hours of outdoor simmering. His smoked turkey takes more patience with cooking than I have, but I am surely glad to help him with his project.

I love my husband’s tender, moist, flavorful, lightly smoked holiday turkey, but not just because I don’t have huge yukky pans to clean during the "happy season." There are lots of reasons to go to the trouble of getting turkey smoked just right and I like all of them!

In previous hubs (Secret Ingredient and Thanksgiving) I shared more of why I enjoy my husband’s smoked turkey each year. As for this year, we've experienced a Murphy’s Law set of circumstances, and I'm thankful to have a peace that passes human understanding about such things. Our Christmas weekend and following week were filled with some very unChristmas events.

Smoked Turkey Recipe
Smoked Turkey Recipe | Source

Deep Fried Turkey:

A Mac died a final death. The washer flooded and we had to make quick decisions on new appliances, flooring, paint, and reworking the shelving to accommodate the change of very old appliances in the laundry room. The Land Cruiser key flew into four pieces as I inserted it in the ignition on the morning I was to take my father to an important appointment.

There were some smaller things like a download on the other Mac that came with some unexpected side-effects and a failure in the internet service threatened to prevent video-chatting with children who are now halfway around the world. I’m pretty sure that Christmas did come and go, however, I know for-posiitve-sure-without-a-doubt that I was extra thankful for this year’s holiday smoked turkey that my husband prepared ahead of time.

And, I like my new laundry room. I painted it apple green with large white shadowed lillypadish leaves floating over it in a random pattern. Merry Christmas to me.

Celebrate at Home:

Have You Tried Smoked Turkey?

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey


      Oh yeah, I know what you mean!

      Thanks for stopping in to check out this smoked turkey recipe!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey


      Thanks very much for checking this recipe out. I hope your food blog project goes well! My husband lets the bird rest that hour, but all I know about it is that it comes out great.

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 5 years ago

      If I was a vegetarian, I would reconsider my choice just for smoked turkey. This stuff is delicious!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for sharing your recipe. I want to fix one in my smoker this year and put it on my food blog. I love the ingredients you added. Some of your other tips will help me too. I didn't know it was best to leave then in another hour to rest after the cooking time.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Oh yes-sir-eee! :)

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      Happy to do it, enjoy the smoked turkey...

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      So glad you enjoyed this. I always appreciate helpful links--thanks much! Thanks for visiting, as well.

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great Hub, thanks for sharing your husband's smoked turkey secrets with us. There is nothing beter than a fresh smoked turkey for the holidays, for that matter s tasty smoked turkey is great all year.

      Best wishes.


      I hope you do not mind if I link to my hub on bbq smoker.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 8 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks! Hope you like it.

    • mynameisnotpaul profile image

      mynameisnotpaul 8 years ago from Kentuckeh'

      This sounds quite delish! I'll have to try it out soon!! :)

      Great hub!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 8 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for stopping by. I still had some extra smoked turkey broth when a friend came in from Africa this weekend. It helped me make up a quick and delicious pumpkin soup that I served with Prairie Bread turkey sandwiches.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      I love your recipe--smoking turkey sounds like fun and makes time for some bonding between u an your husband. Of course, all the little bits about household malfunctions at the most opportune time of the year makes this hub delightful. Thanks for sharing.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 8 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 8 years ago from Michigan

      Great article, thanks for the recipe. I hope you had a good new years.