Smoked Holiday Turkey by Clean Eats & Treats
Its turkey time! I am such a fan of Thanksgiving! The food, the family time, the overwhleming amount of gratitude felt by all, the FOOD… it’s hands down my favorite time of year!
As much as I prefer to stick to traditions, this year we decided to try something new. We recently became the proud new owners of a Traeger grill/smoker. My husband has been dreaming up new ways to spice up our Thanksgiving dinner with the Traeger and the turkey was his top priority! Second being pie. Smoked pie you ask? Oh yes!
I have used the same method for our Thanksgiving turkey for years. Its my mothers recipe, which was handed down by my grandmother, which was originally her mothers mothers and so on. Its fabulous! Lots of butter, but FABULOUS! You can find my cleaned up version here in our healthy holiday twists cookbook “Celebrate the Seasons” along with dozens of other holiday faves cleaned up and healthified!
I invited my hubby to do a test run of the turkey since we are hosting this year. He followed my original recipe almost exactly. We used Traegers basic turkey guide found on their website along with our own recipe of spices and herbs. The combination of the two was AMAZING! Seriously the most flavorful and juiciest turkey we’ve ever made. Not to mention the drippings made an incredible gravy! Traegering a turkey (or at least a turkey breast) just might become a weekly meal plan staple!
Happy Thanksgiving friends! May your holiday be filled with lots of love, family, and delicious food! Xo
Smoked Holiday Turkey
- 1 12-14 pound turkey we used a 12 fresh, or thawed if frozen
- 1 stick of grassed butter clarified if Whole 30 softened
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs rosemary, sage, thyme, chives chopped
- salt and pepper
- 2-4 cups chicken broth more if needed
- 2 additional sprigs of rosemary
- 1 medium onion peeled and quartered
- 1 granny smith apple quartered
- 1 lemon quartered
In a food processor combine butter, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs and pulse until well mixed (this is your compound butter mix and the secret to amazing flavor). Remove and set aside. If making butter beforehand, refrigerate until needed but make sure to bring to room temperature before use.
Remove any giblets from the turkey cavity and save them for gravy making, if desired. Wash the turkey, inside and out, under cold running water. Dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. (I used a sturdy disposable pan with my metal roasting rack). Tuck the wings behind the back.
Season inside the turkey cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with equal portions of onion, apple, and lemon or any other aromatics you wish. This infuses an amazing flavor. Feel free to play around with options, using all citrus is delish too! Once cavity is full, tie the turkey legs together with butcher's string.
Slather the turkey with the compound butter (this can be done in advance, 12 hours or overnight, or 15 minutes before roasting) Using your fingers (how I like to do it) or the handle of a wooden spoon, gently push the compound butter underneath the turkey skin onto the breast halves, being careful not to tear the skin. Massage the outside of the skin to evenly distribute the butter all over the turkey.
Generously salt and pepper the turkey to your liking, making sure to hit every square inch.
Pour 2 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan and add rosemary sprigs.
When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 325F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Put the roasting pan with the turkey directly on the grill grate. Roast the turkey for 3 hours. Checking after 1 1/2 hours to baste, and add more broth if needed. I added 2 more cups. Also you may need to turn your turkey if its cooking faster on one side than the other.
At the 3 hour mark insert the probe from the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching bone: You're looking for a temperature of 165F. The turkey should also be beautifully browned with crisp skin. If the temperature is less than that, or if your turkey is not browned to your liking, let it roast for another 30 minutes, then check the temperature again. Repeat until the turkey is fully cooked. Our 12 pound turkey took 3 1/2 hours to fully cook. If your turkey is larger you will need to plan on a longer cooking time. Keep in mind a smoked turkey will be slightly pink in color. Stick to the internal temperature to determine if it is fully cooked.
When the turkey is done, carefully transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not tent it with aluminum foil or the skin will lose its crispness. Use the drippings that have accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan to make gravy. This was the best pan gravy we have ever made. You must try it!
Carve the turkey and serve.