Texas Style Smoked Turkey

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This Texas style smoked turkey, which is smothered with a bold spice rub and slowly smoked on the grill, is welcome any time of the year, whether on your Thanksgiving table or your annual backyard shindig.

A Texas style smoked turkey cut into breast and leg pieces on a cutting board with a knife.

Adapted from Paula Disbrowe | Thank You for Smoking | Ten Speed Press, 2019

This Texas style smoked turkey with a bbq rub may not be what you traditionally expect from a Thanksgiving bird, but the juicy, smoky meat will make it the star of your table. As an added bonus, while the spice-rubbed turkey is smoking on the grill, your oven remains completely free for all the other important (and essential) side dishes. We can attest that this hen is equally welcome at all other times of year as well.Angie Zoobkoff

Texas Style Smoked Turkey

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 10
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  • One (12-to 15-pound) turkey
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground chile powder from a single chile pepper(such as New Mexico or ancho)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Wood chips, chunks, or logs for smoking


  • 1. At least 1 hour before cooking, spatchcock* (see below) the turkey. Alternatively, you can ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • 2. Rinse the turkey under cold water, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle both sides of the bird with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • 3. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, chile powder, and vinegar until it forms a thick paste. Use your hands to slather the mixture over the turkey (and, if you want, a little can go under the skin) and let it rest while you prepare the fire.
  • 4. If using a charcoal grill, prepare a charcoal grill for indirect cooking on medium-high When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use your tongs to arrange them into a crescent moon shape.

    If using a gas grill, heat it for indirect cooking.
  • 5. Toss your smoke source (chips, chunks, or log) in the grill or smoker box, if your grill has one. Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.
  • 6. When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the turkey on the grill, breast side up, with the turkey legs and thighs situated over the direct heat of the coals and the breast toward indirect heat.
  • 7. Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke, adding hot coals or wood as necessary to maintain the temperature between 325F (165C) and 350F (175C), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads between 175F (79C) and 180F (82C) and the breast reads between 160F (71C) and 165F (74C), about 2 hours.
  • 8. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  • 9. Slice the turkey into portions and serve immediately. The skin will be tough, as is usually the case with smoked poultry, so you may want to caution guests to simply set it off to the side.

What You Need To Know About Spatchocking A Turkey

  • Tux variationSpatchcocking basically means butterflying a turkey by taking the backbone out, which enables you to flatten the bird which, in turn, ensures it cooks far more evenly on the grill than if it was in it usual form. The name butterflying presumably comes from the resemblance of the spread-out hen to a butterfly (well, maybe a little, after a few beers). Whatever you call this nifty trick, after you try it once, youre going to want to do it again. And again. And again. A pair of sturdy kitchen shears will make much quicker work of the task for the spatchcock-obsessed than even your trustiest chefs knife, though the latter comes in handy after you pull the turkey from the grill and need to divvy it up into parts.

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