Taking on a turkey can be one of the most overwhelming tasks of the holiday season. Every year we get a flood of questions regarding pellet grill capacities, methods, pellets, proper thaw times, cook times, and overall how to prepare the best smokey turkey. We’ve compiled a few helpful turkey tips and tricks for preparing and cooking the perfect bird—a main dish that all your guests will want to gobble up. Don’t forget to add a few delectable side dishes to complete the meal!
Keep the turkey in its original wrapping and place it in a fridge set to 40 degrees F or below. You can typically account for 6 hours / pound.
Cold Water Method:
In its original wrapping, submerge the turkey in cold water. Replace the water with cold water every half hour or so. A large sink, bucket, or pot works well for this method. If you are unsure you have a large enough pot to hold your turkey try the 24 qt. or 32 qt. aluminum pots. You can typically account for 30 minutes / pound.
Wet brining consists of submerging the turkey in salt, spices, and water for an extended period of time. This process will typically take between 12-24 hours.
Pro: Infuses both flavor and moisture.
Con: Requires a large container for the turkey, or a durable brine bag which can take up more space in the refrigerator.
Dry brining is kind of like a smoked turkey rub. It consists of rubbing the salt and seasonings directly onto the meat and skin. Then letting it rest for a period of time. This process will typically take between 24-72 hours, 2-3 hours / pound.
Pro: Simple and requires less space than wet brining. The salt helps keep the turkey moist and adds flavor.
Con: Requires more time when done right.
- Start by placing the twine around the back of the turkey.
- As you bring the twine around to the front make sure to pass overtop the wings, which will help hold them in place.
- Run the twine along the leg joint and criss-cross it under the ankles.
- Pull snug and crisscross the twine under the front of the bird.
- Cross the ankles and wrap the twine around them, crisscrossing it on the underside of the ankles. Tie off the twine with a simple double overhand knot and trim the excess.
There are a lot of reasons for spatchcocking your turkey vs. smoking the traditional way. The most commonly used reason is that a spatchcocked turkey will yield a crispier skin. While there is no spatchcock turkey cooking time chart, the turkey will cook in almost half the time. It also lays more flat so it may fit better in your pellet grill or oven (if vertical space is an issue.)
- Cut down both sides of the backbone. It’s easier to cut through the joints if you stay close to the backbone.
- Turn the turkey over and firmly press down on the turkey breast. The breastbone should snap, allowing the turkey to lay flat.
If you need a scissors tough enough for the cut, try the Kitchen Shears withing our 9-Piece Professional Knife Set.
There are many variables that can determine the amount of time it will take to cook a turkey; such as what method you’re using (traditional, turkey cannon, or spatchcocked,) the temperature of your pellet grill/oven, outside weather, and even things like the temperature of your turkey before you start to cook it.
See below for some rough estimates and comparison between methods.
Chart reflects cook times for a pellet grill at 325 degrees F.
Get your Turkey Cannon, here.
Shop our thermometers, here.
Snag a cooler for resting, here
- Remove the leg and wings by cutting at the join where it meets the body.
- Cut along the backbone.
- Cut in from the side and meet the cut made along the backbone (from step 2.)
- Lift out the entire breast and slice against the grain.
What turkey tips do you have? What side dishes will you pair with your turkey? Let us know in the comment section below!