How to Smoke a Turkey Texas Style

Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

A bit of spice and native Texas wood chips give smoked turkey a burst of Southwestern flavor. Brining the turkey beforehand keeps it moist while it smokes and adds a just a hint of saltiness. You don’t have to have a fancy smoker or wait a long time for the finished product. A simple charcoal grill suffices, but if you’re a cook who takes as much pleasure from the process as the finished project, using a smoker triples the time it takes to smoke a turkey Texas style.

Step 1

Brine the turkey. In a large pot, combine enough water to cover the turkey, red pepper flakes to taste and equal parts brown sugar and salt. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove the giblet pack and neck from the turkey cavities and submerge the turkey, breast side down, in the brine. Cover the pot and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2

Prepare the barbecue grill. Place charcoal in the center of the grill, light it and let it burn until the charcoal is covered with ash and hot. When the coals are ready, push them to the side -- the turkey cooks by indirect heat, rather than directly over the coals. Soak mesquite chips in water for half an hour, and add them to the coals.

Step 3

Drain the brine from the turkey and discard it. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and use kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Rub the skin with oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Set the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan breast side up, add about an inch of water to the pan and set the pan on the side of the grill without charcoal. Cover the grill.

Step 4

Smoke the turkey for about 3 hours, or 12 minutes per pound. Check the turkey from time to time and add soaked mesquite chips if the smoky smell begins to dissipate. Add charcoal as needed to maintain an even temperature. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.