Smoked Brined Turkey

Once you try brined turkey on the EGG, you’ll agree that nothing does a better job of roasting meats. The turkey has a subtle smoky flavor and is moist and succulent, but if you prefer a bolder smoky flavor, add more hickory or pecan smoking wood chips in increments during cooking. This turkey is great for holiday meals, and you can use the leftovers to make wonderful sandwiches or meat pies. Recipe courtesy of Kevin Rathbun.








  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • Rind of 1 navel orange
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3 yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 garlic head
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 turkey, appx. 12 lbs
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 10 sprigs sage
  • 3 cups chopped potatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder


BRINE: Pour the water into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, orange rind, rosemary, salt, two- thirds of the quartered lemons and onions and 1 halved garlic head. Mix until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Remove the giblets from inside the turkey and reserve for another use. Rinse the turkey well. Place the turkey in a 2 1⁄2 gallon resealable plastic bag or any container that is large enough to hold the turkey and the liquid. Pour the brine over the turkey, making sure it’s completely covered. Refrigerate for 12 hours, turning occasionally.

Soak 2 cups of hickory or pecan chips in water for 1 hour.

Set the EGG for indirect cooking at 325°F/163°C, sprinkle smoking chips over charcoal and add the convEGGtor.

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well to remove the brining liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brining liquid and solids. Stuff the turkey with the remaining lemon and onion quarters, the remaining halved garlic head, thyme, sage, and 1 cup potatoes. Brush the turkey with olive oil and season with pepper and garlic powder.

Place the turkey on the Roasting Rack in a Drip Pan; scatter the remaining potatoes in the pan and place the pan in the EGG. Cook for 12 minutes per pound until the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F/74°C throughout the product. If the turkey starts to brown too quickly, carefully tent the turkey with aluminum foil. Reserve the drippings from the drip pan to make gravy.

Remove the turkey from the EGG and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Carve and serve immediately.

69 thoughts on “Smoked Brined Turkey

  1. what is a “garlic head” Is it an indivdual clove or is it the whole garlic bulb. I am just not used to the term ‘garlic head’ Thanks for the assistance. Looking forward to a smoked turkey for our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

    1. A garlic head is the entire bulb of garlic. This recipe original called for 2 head but has been changed to 1…unless you REALLY like garlic!!

  2. How do you add more chips every 30 min? Do you literally remove the turkey and convEGGtor and put more chips on? What does this do to the temperature ?

    1. I have this question, as well. I did a smoked turkey on the BGE years ago and this was a problem. The only possible solution I’ve come up with is a smoker box??? Please advise. Also, what is a convEGGtor?

    2. If you look at how to set up the Egg, you never need to add chips. I’ve smoked things for over 14 hours and it stays smokey as long as they are set up correctly.

  3. The ConvEGGtor is feet up. Do you not place the grill on top of that first before you place the drip pan/V-rack and turkey in the EGG?

    1. Bottom to top…Coals, ConvEGGtor (plate-setter), drip-pan, grill-grate, meat. This way the drip pan doesn’t cause un-even cooking of the bird. You also don’t need a v-rack with this technique.

  4. This was the best turkey we have ever tried – even better than a fried turkey that we thought couldnt be topped. Highly recommend following this recipe.

  5. Note, you can make the brine on you stove top! Also cool the brine to 40 F. before pouring it in the bag with the turkey. Food safety issue

  6. Could someone please explain what a V-rack is? Is it the vertical turkey roaster rack, or a horizontal rack? If the vertical rack, how can you get the rack inside the turkey after stuffing according to the recipe?

    1. I think they are referring to the v-rack that traditionally comes with a big oven roasting pan. It keeps the meat just off the bottom of the pan & improves airflow (heat-distribution) around the it. I’m not aware of BGE making a V-rack for the grill.

  7. Can this recipe be used on a larger turkey (20 lbs) in same proportions, or should I scale up?

    Can you estimate the additional cook time for that size to get to 165?

  8. This recipe is excellent, though the cook time (2.5 hrs for 12lb turkey) seemed off. It took me closer to 4.5 hrs, which is more in line with the BGE turkey temp cooking guidelines.

  9. You speak of a “V rack” and a “drip pan” in this recipe. I understand using a foil drip pan under the bird, on top of the plate setter but where would someone learn about the “v rack” as I don’t see such an item on this website, for sale.

    1. I think they are referring to the v-rack that traditionally comes with a big oven roasting pan. It keeps the meat just off the bottom of the pan & improves airflow (heat-distribution) around the it. I’m not aware of BGE making a V-rack for the grill.

    2. V rack is an accessory you can purchase. Holds meets and birds one way. Flip it over and it holds ribs on their side. Great tool which I highly recommend. However, I don’t thick it’s imperative to have here.

    1. Mark – Use 12 min per lb as your guide. But use a meat probe to find the temp in the breast, it should be 165ºF/74ºC when done!

    2. I have cooked many Turkey Breast never a whole turkey. What is ideal temperature to cook on Big Green Egg and how long per pound . Does smoking or roasting cooking time make a difference? what is best wood to use?

    3. Kevin said 12 minutes per pound, which I have done in the past. Let it “rest” for at least thirty minutes and it will continue to cook some, and still be so hot it is hard to carve.

    4. Ok – I have used this recipe a few times now and here is my take on cooking times: I usually do a 19-20 pound bird. At 250 the cook time was 9 hours. I found that the skin darkened quickly and at around 4 hours I had to tent it with foil. This time I have a 24 pound turkey and I am anticipating a 12-14 hour cooking time. Bottom line is that time is not the measure you are looking for. Temp is. Have a legit temperature probe in the thickest part of the breast and thigh and measure the temp. When the temp of the breast is around 175 in the thigh and 170 in the breast I remove it, let it stand for 15 minutes, carve and serve. Nothing is worse than cutting into a turkey that is not done,

      Remember – the only time you should lift the lid of the egg is to marinate the turkey with the drippings, and when you need to add more wood. The key is to trust in your probe and above all…..use common sense. Last year I had a inch thick smoke ring. We had two turkeys, one smoked and the other oven roasted. The smoked turkey was gone and the oven roasted was leftovers for the guests.

  10. Depends on the temperature you cook it at…for a 15 pound turkey, it’ll take a good three hours at 275…maybe a little longer. I usually just the let the bird go (chicken or turkey) for a couple hours and check the temperature with a digital thermometer to see where I’m at. If you can, get a thermometer that will sound an alarm when you reach 165 degrees. That the magic temp you want.

  11. One other note…I like to cook my poultry around 300 degrees…12-15 minutes per pound usually does the trick. I never pull it off until I’m in the 165-170 degree mark.

  12. look like 12.5 mins per pound 12lb turkey and 2 1/2 hours (150 min) /12= 12.5 min per pound But use a meat thermometer for 160 degrees internal temp

  13. We just got a Big Green Egg this summer and have really enjoyed using it. We are, for the first time, going to make a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. In the recipe it states to put the V-rack and drip pan on the ConvEGGtor. Does this mean that a grill rack is not needed? I’m assuming that since the ConvEGGtor is is legs up that the drip pan, etc. sits directly on the flat surface. Thanks for your time.

    1. I use a drip pan under the cooking grate on top conveggtor (legs up) then put grate on, then v rack on top of cooking grate, then turkey.

  14. At that temperature, this is not smoked turkey. It’s more like roasted turkey. It’s still probably delicious, but 350 degrees is a little hot for smoking.

  15. Your cooking instructions start by saying set the Egg up for direct cooking (no convEGGtor) and then it says to add the convEGGtor. Which is it?

    1. It’s been changed. It’s with convEGGtor. The reason they say no convEGGtor in the beginning is so you can add smoking chips. Sorry for the confusion.

  16. Excellent results! 165 degrees F is the correct target temp to cook ! Had a 13.6# fresh turkey and a cook time of 4 hours @ 350 degrees. (+/- 18 min/# ) Suggest bringing the Egg to 350 before putting the turkey in the Egg. We will substitute butter for olive oil to brush on the outside before seasoning with pepper and garlic!

  17. At the beginning of recipe you state no convEGGtor Then later you advise using convEGGtor???? Which is it? Then if read this correctly you advise placing roasting pan directly on convEGGtor no on the grill grate. Why? Does this help heating legs and thigh faster than breast so they finish at same time.

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