Our Thanksgiving Habit

Wonderful Smoked Turkey Habit. You will develop an addiction?

One thing we do every year, almost as a habit, is smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving. A huge turkey.

I’ve posted about it before, but this year we will make two of them, and I got photos for ya! So here goes:

1. Thaw, trim, and rinse turkey.

Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey
Rinsed 23 lb. Turkey

2. Pour charcoal into fuel portion of smoker.

Enough charcoal for 12 hours.
Enough charcoal for 12 hours.

3. Set into bottom of smoker.

Charcoal in place
Charcoal in place

4. Do whatever you do to light charcoal.

Light charcoal
Light charcoal

5.  Once charcoal is very hot and turning white, add grill, to sterilized it.

Burning off the grill
Burning off the grill

6. Once all flame dies down, carefully remove grill and insert empty water pan in place over (not on) charcoals, and replace grill over water pan. Carefully fill with about 1 1/4 gallons of water.

Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill
Water pan in place over charcoal and under grill

7. Place turkey on grill.

Turkey on grill in smoker
Turkey on grill in smoker

8. Close smoker and go to bed.

Good night!
Good night!

9. Do not check progress by opening smoker!

In the morning, you will have a lovely smoked turkey. The meat should be tender and pink like ham. The joints should be loose or separating. The skin should be crackling in places and dark from smoke. Mmm! Look here!

Any questions? Ask in the comments, below, and I’ll be happy to answer quickly!

Have fun!

Edit to add: Our smoker is nearly burned out. 😦 Worst part is that we canNOT find another like it. Smaller ones do not work. Electric too expensive. The company that made our smoker just does not make them anymore. Help! 😉


Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

21 thoughts on “Our Thanksgiving Habit

    1. Oh, me too I*Kan! We just woke up and it’s out in the shed waiting for us, probably smelling delicious. Thanks for commenting, and WELCOME to Home’s Cool! 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your visit and return soon.

        1. Umm…a few pieces (several, in fact) accidentally landed on the countertop and, of course, I could not allow them to be included in the rest, for fear of contamination, so…mmm…

  1. Kathy, We have a smoker identical to yours. I have smoked many turkeys in it. THEY were delicious as you described. My kids just rave over how good they are in the smoker.

  2. We have a tradition of smoked turkey at our house as well. These days our 10 yo grandson has taken over the responsibility and loves it. He uses an electric smoker however. We have also fried turkeys in the past, and I have a hard time deciding which I like the best. Happy Holidays.

    1. Hello, Laura! And WELCOME to Home’s Cool! 🙂

      It IS terrific! Especially that fact that my oven is freed up for pies and breads and candied yams!

      I have to thaw the bird for several days. The one in the picture is 23 lbs. Yes! We feed about that many people (23) and it just takes that much, especially since we want leftovers. But you can check many cookbooks to find out how much meat you will need for your meal, and then if you purchase a smoker, it usually comes with instructions about how long to cook various choices.

      With such a big bird, we put it in the cooker at bedtime, which, when the whole family is here, is about 9 p.m. or so. It takes about 20 minutes to get the fire hot enough, etc., but we are accustomed to the process and it might take longer for someone who is not used to charcoal cooking, or to such large amounts of charcoal, just getting it lit, etc. Then we put it in, close it, and go to bed. Really.

      It took a few times for us to get the nerve to leave it like that. I recommend that folks begin with something simpler, smoking during the day, to learn to trust that smoker and leave it shut. Smoked salmon is amazing. Smoked ribs or chicken, too. Mmm…

      Then we check it once we’re fully awake, you know, after some coffee, etc. 😉 It’s always done just right, then, but still quite hot, with a bit of charcoal left, yet. We leave it in there until we are ready for deboning it, just before lunch. Sometimes I need to warm it a bit, then, but not usually. If so, I just put the lid on the turkey pan and set it in the oven while we set table, fill glasses with ice, etc. The oven is always on, that morning, you know? 🙂

      One last thing: We have had the experience of it not getting done enough (the juices run pink…not good…. The cause is an unaccustomed cold night. We live in the Deep South and usually can work outdoors, even at night, in a light jacket. If it’s really cold out, that can absorb the heat from the cooker. So, we always put ours in a dirt-floor barn and let the smoke clear out some of the spiders (I hopefully imagine!) while the barn keeps the cooker a bit warmer. It’s a small building, just large enough for one car, almost like a garage. I don’t know where you live, but no matter! Just don’t let freezing rain fall on it all night with a 20mph wind! 😉

      But if it does not get all the way done enough, you’ll know by morning, when you check on it. Just pop it into the oven, after all. It will be fully cooked in a short time and still deliciously smoked in flavor.

      Have fun!

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