• Preparation
    15 minutes + Defrost
  • Cook Time
    7 Hours
  • Serves
  • Difficulty

Behind the Recipe

So You’re the Lucky One Hosting Thanksgiving This Year

Looking for a dish that will keep the family from bickering? You could beat around the bush with special sides, but nothing (and we mean nothing!) will silence the critics like making the perfect juicy smoked Thanksgiving turkey. 

This recipe for smoked turkey is so good that it may just keep your family (bless their hearts) from arguing at the Thanksgiving table this year.

Here are some tips for pulling off the most amazing smoked Thanksgiving turkey: 

  • This recipe calls for a 15-pound turkey. If you have a different size, then simply adjust your total cooking time. At a steady 225º F, it takes roughly 25 minutes for every pound of turkey. So, if you have a 10-pound turkey, it will take about 4 hours, 30 minutes (best to add a little extra time to cook thoroughly).
  • How do you know when your turkey is done? Use your handy meat thermometer! Probe the turkey on all sides to measure its temperature. When every point is at 165º F or above, your turkey is cooked and safe to eat.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re using a gas grill, charcoal grill, or pellet smoker, as long as you cook your turkey at a consistent 225º over indirect heat.  
  • Applewood and/or cherrywood are great flavors to add smoke to your bird. We highly recommend either or both!
  • To pull off the amazing smoky flavor in this recipe, you’re going to need flavored wood chips (for gas grills and charcoal grills) or wood pellets (pellet smokers).

We hope you enjoy this recipe for Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey. 

And hey... if you decide this smoked turkey isn’t for you, you could always make it easy on yourself and pick up a Nexgrill Turkey Fryer for delicious fried turkey!



  • 15 lb turkey (defrosted)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 c water, plus more as it evaporates
  • ¼ c dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper


  1. If you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, first soak your wood chips in a bowl of water to prevent them from burning up too quickly.
  2. Next, set up your grill for indirect heat, preheating to 225º. It’s important to keep your grill at a steady 225º throughout the cook to get nice, even heating.
  3. Fill a drip tray with 4 cups of water, and place beneath the surface where your turkey will cook.
  4. Next, mix the rub. In a medium bowl, combine ¼ c dark brown sugar, 1 tbsp sea salt, 2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp ground mustard, and ½ tsp cayenne pepper until well mixed. NOTE: You’re only going to use 3 tbsp for this recipe. Be sure to save the rest for other pork and poultry dishes.
  5. Unpackage your defrosted turkey, and remove any innards like the neck and giblets from the cavity. Be sure your turkey is fully defrosted before going any further.
  6. Rinse the turkey with cold water, and pat it dry with paper towels.
  7. Next, truss the turkey by tying the legs together with butcher’s twine, and tuck the wings behind the shoulder joint.
  8. Take 3 tbsp of melted butter, and coat the turkey on all sides.
  9. Take 3 tbsp of your rub mix, and evenly coat the bird on all sides.

Cooking Instructions

  1. 1

    Place your prepared turkey over indirect heat (the side of the grill opposite the fire).

  2. 2

    If using a gas or charcoal grill, add your smoker box (gas grill) or flavored wood chips (charcoal) over direct heat to generate that tasty smoky flavor.

  3. 3

    Cover and allow to cook for 7 ½ hours, checking your drip tray periodically to refill with water. NOTE: If your bird isn’t 15 pounds, see our tips above for guidelines on how long to cook your turkey.

  4. 4

    Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your turkey on all sides. Once all sides read 165º or higher, your bird is ready to go!

  5. 5

    Let your smoked turkey rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

  6. 6

    Enjoy and give thanks!

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