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Gameday Grilling: Making a perfect smoked Thanksgiving turkey

Learn how to master the centerpiece of your Turkey Day spread – a moist Cajun-smoked turkey.

AUSTIN, Texas — Hoping to impress your guests this holiday season? KVUE's got you covered. Here's how to make moist and flavorful turkey that your family and friends will talk about for days.


  • Whole turkey (I prefer 11- to 14-pound turkeys)
  • Cajun butter (which can be created with melted butter and Cajun seasoning, or purchased)
  • Favorite poultry rub
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • 1-2 bay leaves


  1. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator (usually takes about one day per four pounds).
  2. Create a brine by bringing 3/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons peppercorns, 1 tablespoon thyme and 1-2 bay leaves to a boil in water.
  3. Bring the brine down to room temperature by adding more water and/or ice, in a container large enough to submerge the turkey in the brine.
  4. Let the turkey sit in the brine overnight (8-18 hours), then rinse it off.
  5. Inject the breasts evenly with Cajun butter.
  6. Season generously with your favorite poultry rub.
  7. Place the turkey on a tray and smoke between 180F-200F for three hours, basting with butter every hour.
  8. Raise grill temperature to 350F until the internal temperature of the breasts reads 165F.
  9. Allow the turkey to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving and eating.

Share your results:

Take pictures or videos of your food, and send them my way on Instagram (@Gameday_Grilling).