Smoked Turkey Recipe
As promised, our Barker BBQ Smoked Turkey Method:
Gobble Gobble Gobble.
I went with a turkey on the smaller side because this was just a warmup for Thanksgiving. I’ll save the big bird for the big day. Although, if I was cooking for a larger group I would cook 2 of these every time before I ever cooked a big 24 lb turkey. Smaller turkeys cook faster and I have a theory that the smaller birds taste better. And of course, they are easier to handle. This turkey was about 12 lbs in the bag.
The first part is my favorite. Just kidding it’s no one’s favorite, and if it is your favorite do us all a favor and pretend it’s not. Rinse off that bird and reach in and pull all those innards out. Remove anything in the cavity you are ready to get to work. I wish I could say say that in a less intrusive way out of respect for the turkey, but he’s dead and we’re going to eat him so I don’t think he cares anymore.
I went with the Spatchcock method. Mainly because its a pretty cool word to say, and it sounds impressive when everyone’s bragging about how they cooked the turkey at the culligan machine at work next week. Notice that no one talks about the turkey cavity search. Just sayin’.
I used the Spatchcock method so that the turkey smoked more evenly and faster. Essentially, you are taking the turkey shaped like a big ol ball with a hollow center and making it into a more flat piece of meat. To start, flip the turkey over and find where the backbone is. You can see it pretty obvious in the picture below. Then you cut it out.
I had a picture of the turkey with the backbone cut out, but my wife made me take it out. Use kitchen scissors, or even better use metal snips from the hardware store and cut along either side of the backbone.
Heres what your turkey will look like with the back bone cut out. To cut the backbone out a pair of kitchen scissors is essential, however, I have graduated onto using a pair of metal snips that you buy from the hardware store. It makes it super easy and it cuts much easier than kitchen scissors. Just cut along both sides of the backbone and throw that part away.
Once the backnbone is out, flip the turkey over, put two hands square on the middle of the breast bone and press down as hard as you can until you crack the breast bone and the turkey lays flat. Again, not the part to mention at the water cooler. Now it’s time to season and get on the BBQ.
I didn’t do any sort of brine: the turkey already had a salt injection like many do from the store. The end result was a super moist and flavorful turkey (yes, even without a brine.)
I used a whole block of Kerrygold butter. For a larger turkey I would use 2. I cut the butter into big pieces, pulled the skin back and stuffed the butter under the skin on the turkey. I sprinkled some BBQ Rub under the skin directly on the meat after the butter, making sure to do it uniformly so I got that flavor everywhere.
Putting the butter under the skin allows it to melt and essentially self baste the turkey. I put butter in the breast meat, thigh meat and drumsticks along with the sprinkle of rub.
Next I seasoned the outside. I sprayed the outside liberally with avocado oil cooking spray: you can use whichever you like. Canola, vegetable or olive oils would be fine here, we are just looking for something to give us a thin layer of moisture to help the rub stick. For this turkey I used a 50/50 mix of our Sweet Lou and House Blend rubs.
I did a nice coat of rub hitting all the skin, which turns into a crispy skin full of flavor. After finishing with the rub I made sure the turkey had at least 30 mins to sit and start to sweat. You will see the rub start to look wet over that 30 mins, which is the goal. By the time the turkey hits the smoker all the rub should be super moist.
While the turkey is hanging out getting its sweat on you want to fire up whatever bbq or cooker you will be using. I used an XL Big Green Egg for this one with Fogo Charcoal for the fire. I got the fire going and inserted the platesetter to cook indirect and got the grill locked in at 350. It’s always important to get your bbq up to whatever temp you will cooking at before you add the meat.
Now put that turkey on the BBQ! The next series of pictures are pictures from throughout the 3 hour cook. I have found most spatchcock turkeys for me when cooking at 350 degrees take right around 15 minutes per pound to hit ideal internal temps. About every 30 minutes I checked to see if any part of the turkey was drying out. I didn’t want the skin to pull back too much, if it looked dry at all I hit it with a little spritz of apple juice to moisten things up and put the lid back down and let it cook!
When internal temps reach 165 degrees take the turkey off the BBQ. I used my Thermoworks MK4 to test all of my temps; when temping a turkey I check in the deepest part of the thigh meat and the deepest part of the breast. This turkey came off when the breast was 165 and the thigh was right around 170. Personally, I think the thigh is a little better when temp wise it makes it a little past 165. Directly from the BBQ I put the turkey on a large cookie sheet, brought it inside, and let it rest tented loosely under some foil for 15 minutes while I got the rest of our meal prepped up.
We ended up with an awesome turkey, perfectly crispy skin, super juicy meat everywhere, and a successful cook ready to share with you.
Tag me on Instagram or Facebook with your thanksgiving cooks, I’d love to see. And from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for this awesome Backyard BBQ community and your support.
Smoked Turkey cooked on the Big Green Egg XL Spatchcock Style
Course Main Course Cuisine American Author Colin Barker
1 10-15 lb Turkey1/4 Cup Cooking Oil, We Used Spray Avocado Oil1-2 Blocks Kerrygold Butter1/2 cup Sweet Lou & House Blend or Your Rub/Seasoning of Choice1 cup Apple Juice for Spritzing
Remove turkey from packaging, rinse under cold water and remove all innards. Remove the backbone of the turkey and depress the breast bone to make the turkey lay flat.
Put large cubes of butter under the skin in the breast, thigh and drumstick areas. Sprinkle some of the bbq rub under the skin getting it on as much of the meat as possible. Spray the outside of the turkey with the oil and season all of the skin with the bbq rub. Don't be stingy! Let the turkey sit for 30 minutes to let the rub get moist and set up.
When your bbq or oven is up to 350 degrees put the turkey on. Plan for 15 minutes of cook time per pound of turkey. Check turkey every 30 minutes, if the skin looks dry spritz with apple juice and get the lid closed to preserve heat.
When you reach 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast and thigh it's time to come off the smoker or oven. Rest for 15 minutes inside lightly tented in foil before carving and serving.