Serious Eats: Recipes

Honey-Brined and Smoked Turkey

I thought I had the ultimate turkey the year my family took it to the fryer, but I was mistaken. I have come to realize that true turkey nirvana is reached when the bird is brined and smoked, which creates an unbelievably juicy and savory piece of poultry.

I view turkey as a blank slate, and the combination of a brine--this year I'm opting for a sweet honey variation--and smoke combine to add tremendous flavor to the otherwise dull bird. I've found the trick to this method is striking the perfect balance between the two main flavors, and the best way to do this is by being careful not to over smoke the turkey; cooking it between 350 to 400°F and using only a couple chunks of a light smoke wood, like apple or cherry.

What comes out of the smoker is a beautiful mahogany piece of art--a result of smoke on the skin--that bursts with the flavors of the brine paired with the sweet kiss of smoke.

About the author: Joshua Bousel blogs about grilling on his blog, The Meatwave, and appears weekly here on Serious Eats during grilling season.


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