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Brined & Barbecue Smoked Turkey

Since 2004, each year we have a brined turkey barbecue on Christmas Eve. Besides being an active and original way to spend a beautiful evening, this smoking turkey winter barbecue yields an absolutely delicious and juicy grilled turkey as well. With this smoked turkey recipe, cooking juicy turkey is quite easy. Just follow this barbecue turkey recipe for the juiciest Thanksgiving turkey, Xmas turkey or any day turkey!

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

Photo of a brined and barbecue smoked turkey - by Hot Smoke BBQ.

Our Brined and Smoked Turkey Barbecue

Until 2004, we never did turkey for Christmas. Some twenty years ago we tried roasting a turkey in the oven. After a few experiences dryer than Death Valley we switched to a juicy rabbit, pork tenderloin, or just an "ordinary" steak.

US Flag However, after reading the inspiring recipe of "The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey" from the book "BBQ USA" by Steven Raichlen we decided to give Turkey another chance, and with very good results this time. This is the perfect turkey!

This turkey is prepared by hot smoking and indirect grilling in a closed barbecue. The meat is slow roasted to perfection, whereby charcoal and soaked wood chunks will add that special smokey taste.

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

Juancho's BBQ Tip  

Turkey Brining ???

By first brining the turkey overnight, the meat will dry less during cooking, and the result will be juicier.

I guess this is because of the salt - that has slowly penetrated the meat during brining - does retain the juices inside the meat during roasting.

Whatever, it works!

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes


Baby-turkey, ready to take a plunge... Buy a 5 to 6 pounds baby-turkey, take out the small package of giblets (if it is there) from the body cavity of the turkey, and cut off any excess fat or skin.

Rinse the turkey under cold running water, blot dry inside and out using paper towels, and tie the legs together using butcher's wire.

Juancho's BBQ Tip  

A word of caution here: when working with raw fish or meat, make sure all work surfaces, utensils, and your hands are thoroughly clean before you start, and clean thoroughly immediately after you finish!

Consider the people you love. A good food poisoning can ruin more than just your reputation as a Pit Master...

Before you start, check whether the turkey will fit inside your Weber grill (or other smoker or oven). If she does not fit: Just push the turkey flat until she does fit...

Turkey Brine Ingredients

We have adapted the original turkey brine recipe to suit our own preferences and taste:

1.25 cups
1 quart
1 cup
4 cloves
1 tablespoon
4 quarts
hot water
lime *), in thin slices or squeezed
molasses, or maple syrup, as you please
onion, medium size, in thin slices
garlic, in thin slices
black peppercorns
whole cloves
cold water

*) For clarity, by "lime" we mean that round green type of lemon. (if you can't get limes, use a lemon instead)

Brine, ready to receive... Pour the quart of hot water in a large and deep non-reactive pan or bucket, stir in the salt and molasses until fully dissolved, and add the lime, onion, garlic and other herbs and spices.

Add the 4 quarts of cold water and let cool to room temperature or - even better - refrigerator temperature.

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

Juancho's BBQ Tip
Instead of using a pan or bucket, you might also use a large sturdy watertight plastic bag to brine the turkey.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Brining Turkey

Lower the turkey in the brine and make sure it is fully submerged. If need be, put a water filled plastic bag or container on top to push the turkey down.

Close the lid and put in the fridge to let the brine do its job.

Hot Smoke - Brined Turkey After 12 to 14 hours, remove the turkey from the brine (you don't want it to become too salty) and blot dry inside and out using paper towels.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Turkey Barbecue Preparation

Prepare your Weber barbecue (or similar barbecue, or smoker or oven) for indirect grilling. Use about 10 to 12 charcoal briquettes in each side coal pocket.

Weber barbecue set up for indirect grilling (example only - don't use that rib rack for a turkey) Pour about half an inch of water in the drip pan. Some fanatics will replace the water with beer or wine. It may sound idiot, but you will notice the difference!

Click HERE to read more about INDIRECT GRILLING

Charcoal Briquettes

Hot Smoke BBQ - Charcoal Briquettes I always use charcoal briquettes because of their even shape and size. I also found they have a more constant quality when compared with regular "lump" charcoal (mostly small lump charcoal, that is...).

Click HERE to read more about CHARCOAL BRIQUETTES

Smoke Wood

Once the charcoal in my barbecue is glowing and grey, I put a few water soaked chunks of smokewood (say about 1"-2" thick and 3"-5" long) on top of the charcoal.

Juancho's BBQ Tip
Smoke is like a condiment, adding a specific taste to your food, like salt and pepper. And just like you don't want your food to get too salty or too spicy, you don't want too much smoke either.
Too much smoke will leave a bitter and/or creosote taste on your food. In general: do not exaggerate on the smoke.
                                            Just a whisp should be enough.

Because of the fairly high temperature of the charcoal fire during hot smoking, and to prevent the smoke wood from burning too fast, I soak my smoke wood in a bucket of water for a couple of days prior to use.

Click HERE to read more about SMOKEWOOD

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Smoking Turkey

Get smokin'! Stick the turkey on the grill, chest up, right above the drip pan. Brush liberally with melted butter and close the lid of your smoker.

As soon as you see a fair cloud of smoke coming out of the top vent holes, it is time to shut the bottom vent holes to almost closed position.

Roast the turkey for 2.5 to 3 hours until done.

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Time to Relax

With that turkey sitting in your black backyard coal-fired microwave, take it easy. Get yourself a drink, sit down, watch that whisp of smoke curl up and follow a path to the neighbours. Aaah, enjoy that lovely smell. There's nothing that can make you feel more down to earth and relaxed.

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

Try to resist peeking under the lid too often. Every time you open your barbecue you will loose heat, and the cooking process will take longer. On the other hand, if you have time anyway, what the heck...

Brined turkey during hot smoking During the roasting process you control the temperature inside the barbecue by gradually opening or closing the bottom vent holes. Mind you: the top vent holes will ALWAYS remain fully open during roasting and smoking.

During roasting, you should see only a whisp of light Hot Smoke coming from your barbecue.

Every hour: brush liberally with melted butter and add 6 to 8 burning charcoal briquettes per side coal pocket.

As soon as you feel that the turkey's skin may be getting too dark, cover the turkey loosely with aluminium foil and return the lid.

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Turkey Dinner Time!

Once you feel that the turkey is done, use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature in the thickest parts of the turkey has indeed reached about 180oF (just over 80oC).

If the turkey is indeed done, transfer it to a pre-heated serving dish, cover loosely with aluminium foil, and let it rest for fifteen minutes. This rest will allow heat and juices to distribute evenly, thus making this grilled turkey even better!


This perfect turkey can also be eaten outside the Christmas or Thanksgiving season...

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

The PitBoss Suggests

This juicy smoked turkey combines very well with:

Creamy Gravy with Tarragon

Photo of Creamy Gravy with Tarragon for Grilled Poultry by Blue Smoke BBQ. This soft and creamy white gravy with tarragon combines particularly well with the subtle taste of pork, veal and poultry, for example Blue Smoke BBQ's Brined and Smoked Turkey.

Stuffed BBQ Potatoes

Photo of Stuffed BBQ Potatoes by Blue Smoke BBQ. These hot smoked stuffed potatoes take some time in preparation, but they taste great.

In addition to great taste, they also look wonderful on your barbecue plate.

Juanita's American Coleslaw

Photo of Juanita's American Coleslaw to go with Barbecue Meat by Blue Smoke BBQ. This salad is pretty robust and can be prepared a couple of hours in advance. It combines absolutely great with any meat from your barbecue.

Hot Smoke BBQ Xmas Trees

At Hot Smoke BBQ we love Chile Peppers!

Keep Smokin' !