Herb-Brined Barbecue-Smoked Turkey

 If you’re toying with the idea of cooking a turkey outdoors for the upcoming American Thanksgiving or the holiday season to follow, I’m here to cheer you on and steer you in the direction of a great recipe that worked for me.

Okay, so for years now (and it really has been years if you’ve read my turkey history) I’ve sung the praises of the butter-roasted turkey and I still believe it is the simplest way to go on the Big Day and always yields fantastic results – just read the comments and see for yourself.

But if you’ve been there and done that with a simple oven-roast bird, a herb-brined, barbecue-smoked turkey is fun and exciting way to change up the menu. It certainly pleased me and our twenty-some guests last month.

Herb-Brined, Barbecue-Smoked Turkey || Simple Bites

So the recipe and method I followed was from the October 2016 issue of the popular lifestyle magazine, Canadian Living. The article was developed by my good friend, the very talented Jennifer Bartoli. Jenn has since parted ways with CL, but her articles were always my favourite.

As soon as I read about Jenn’s Smoked Herb Brined Turkey, I knew I wanted to try it on my Weber on the back patio. The forecast for a sunny and warm Thanksgiving further convinced me to soak some apple chips and stock up on charcoal.

Cooking a turkey on the grill conveniently frees up the oven for pies, dressing and sides galore.  Since I have a double oven in my KitchenAid range, I was able to have one oven on warm for holding side dishes, and another blasting for roasting off brussels sprouts and squash. The turkey was on the grill, the gravy on the stove and the mashed potatoes kept warm in the slow cooker. My guests brought dessert and I served a big drink dispenser full of sparkling apple cider party punch. All in all, it was a very stress-free Thanksgiving.

Herb-Brined, Barbecue-Smoked Turkey || Simple Bites

It was quite lovely, slipping outside into the cool fall air to check on the bird, away from the heat of the kitchen. I brought a glass of  punch with me and took my time tending the coals, however, the turkey cooked quickly! I maintained my Weber at an even 300F and the bird was cooked after about 2 1/2 hours.

I cooked my gravy separately, from a batch of turkey broth I had simmered a few days earlier. I wanted more of a traditional gravy, not tasting of smoke in any way.

I should say that the prep for the turkey was a little bit of a hassle. I’ve always felt brining a turkey was more trouble that it was worth, but the recipe called for heaps and heaps of fresh herbs and I had them all growing in my garden and begging to be used. Maybe you won’t find it much of a bother, but then again, I have a second refrigerator which housed the bird in brine. I would have been hard pressed to find the space in my fridge otherwise.

Making apple chips || Herb-Brined, Barbecue-Smoked Turkey || Simple Bites

We made and used our own applewood chips, since we had some logs from an old apple tree lying around. Danny chipped them off the block, and I soaked them in water for a few hours before adding them to the top of the lit coals.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the final result. Well, as promised, using a grill as a smoker for a herb-brined turkey yielded wildly flavourful results. Also, the bird was so juicy, the breast meat practically oozed when I carved into it with my knife. And the skin! Glorious and cracklingly crisp. We loved our outdoor cooked turkey.

Find the full method for Herb-Brined Barbecue-Smoked Turkey on Canadian Living. 

Looking for more help?

Do you have a preference between oven roasted and grill smoked turkey? What about deep fried?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Wow, looking forward to trying this!
    We raised HUGE chickens this year (3-5 kgs). Could this recipe be done with a chicken instead?

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