Dry brining and smoking are hands down our two favorite methods to cook a turkey. We are team dry brine over wet brine for a few reasons, one of them being: dry brining helps boost the flavor and retain moisture throughout the cook without forcing you to become a creative genius about how to keep a large, heavy container full of salty turkey water refrigerated for days. Unless you have a walk-in refrigerator, who can do this? This method will give you a simple, tasty, and succulent turkey!
Total Time: 2-3 days
- 12-16 lb Turkey, giblets removed
- 3 Tbsp coarse Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1½ Tbsp Fresh Parsley, minced
- 1½ Tbsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- Zest from 2 Lemons
- ½ cup Butter
- Hardwood Smoking Pellets
Do I need to rinse the dry brine off?
No! Rinsing it defeats the purpose of a dry brine. You want your skin to stay nice and dried out to ensure you get the crispiest skin and the most flavorful meat.
- Two days before you plan on cooking your turkey is the time to begin the dry brining process – make sure your turkey is ALREADY THAWED at this point!
- Remove the turkey from the fridge, remove giblets from the cavity, rinse in cold water and pat dry.
- Gently loosen the skin over the breast and legs by working your hands under and separating the membrane there.
- In a small bowl combine salt, sugar, black pepper, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. Rub this mixture all over the bird, including some under the skin and a little dash into the cavity as well. Set the turkey into a roasting pan or other deep sided pan and refrigerate uncovered for 1-2 days. Pour off any liquid from the bottom of the pan periodically.
- Remove turkey from the fridge about an hour before smoke time to allow it to come to room temp.
- Brush about half the butter all over the turkey, tie the legs together with twine, and place turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
- Set the temperature on your pellet grill to 225˚ F and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes.
- Place the turkey on the pellet grill and smoke for 2½ – 3 hours.
- Increase grill temp to 350˚ F, brush with remaining melted butter, and continue to cook for 3½ – 4 more hours, or until the thickest part of the breast reaches an internal temp of 165˚ F.
- Remove from grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
*Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups.