In case you have a drum smoker, that is by far the perfect smoked turkey recipe as a result of it is juicy, crispy and basted with bacon grease and whiskey.

By Christie Vanover | Revealed November 16, 2022 | Final Up to date November 16, 2022

I like smoking turkey on a charcoal grill, as a result of it provides it such nice taste. For the perfect outcomes, I cook dinner it sizzling and quick on a drum smoker, as a result of that reduces the cooking time and creates superior colour and pores and skin.

smoked turkey on a platter with herbs.

What Is a Drum Smoker

A drum smoker is a sort of grill made out of a steel barrel. Most frequently, the barrels maintain about 55 gallons, so that they’re referred to as 55-gallon drums. Nonetheless, it’s also possible to discover 30-gallon barrels.

Drum people who smoke have grow to be extraordinarily well-liked on the competitors circuit. Personally, I take advantage of three orange Hunsaker Drum People who smoke. I even have a black Hunsaker and mini orange 30-gallon in my yard. The blue one pictured beneath belongs to my pops.

three orange and one blue Hunsaker smoker.

Gateway Drum People who smoke are one other well-liked model you’ll see on the circuit.

If you’ll find your self a barrel, you may even purchase a equipment to build your own smoker out of it. These are sometimes referred to as UDS, or Ugly Drum People who smoke, as a result of the barrels are often fairly beat up.

Different firms, like Oklahoma Joes, have drum people who smoke that aren’t fairly barrels, however they work the identical manner.

Principally, you add your charcoal to a basket within the backside of the barrel. The rack or racks relaxation on bolts above the coals at various ranges. Oxygen is fed into the drum both by means of a pipe on the aspect or a complete within the backside.

Warmth and smoke exit the smoker by means of an exhaust on the highest. You alter the opening in that exhaust vent to regulate the temperature of the smoker.

Drum people who smoke often purr at increased temps between 275-300F levels, which is the temperature I take advantage of to cook dinner this smoked turkey. Bonus is meaning the turkey will take much less time to cook dinner.


This smoked turkey recipe is brined, seasoned after which completed with a whiskey bacon glaze.

raw turkey, butter, turkey rub, vegetables.
  • Turkey: I like cooking 12-15-pound birds. I discover them to be the juiciest.
  • Butter: You’ll want one giant 8-ounce bundle of Kerrygold salted butter.
  • Aromatics: For that quintessential Thanksgiving taste, fill the cavity with aromatics like celery, carrots, lemons, onions, thyme and sage.
  • Turkey Rub: Attempt my Smoked Turkey Rub recipe or a mixture of my Spiceology Chicken Rub and Girl Carnivore’s Chick Fest.

Brine Elements

  • Water: You’ll want each sizzling water and chilly water.
  • Salt: When making brines, at all times use kosher salt.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar.
  • The Grill Dads Lemon Thyme Brine: Technically it is a seasoning meant for use as a dry brine (simply sprinkled on the hen), however it works nice for moist brining, too.
  • Big Poppa Smokers Chicken Prod: This can be a nice product that’s used on the competitors circuit as a brine or injection for hen.

Basting Elements

  • Bacon Drippings: Subsequent time you cook dinner a slab of bacon, save the drippings for this recipe. You may as well purchase bacon grease on Amazon.
  • Whiskey: It’s at all times Jack Daniels black label in our home.
  • Soy Sauce: Common or low sodium.

Substitutions: As an alternative of making a brine with the elements listed above, it’s also possible to use my Smoked Turkey Brine recipe, which has extra primary elements.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

Step one for this recipe is brining the entire hen. This can be a course of that can assist breakdown the meat, making it juicier.

  1. STEP ONE: Begin by putting 2 cups water, salt, sugar, Lemon Thyme Brine and the Rooster Prod right into a pot over medium warmth. As soon as the seasonings dissolve, take away it from the warmth and pour in two cups of chilly water. Let the moist brine cool to a minimum of room temperature.
  1. STEP TWO: Line a food-safe bucket with two disposable turkey size oven bags. Take away the turkey from its packaging and take away the bag of organs, neck and pop-up thermometer, if it had one. Place the turkey within the bag within the bucket – breast aspect going through down.
turkey in brine bucket.

Pour the cooled brine on prime. Add extra chilly water to cowl, and tie the interior bag in a knot, forcing out as a lot air as attainable. Place the bucket within the fridge for 8-12 hours.

  1. STEP THREE: After 8-12 hours, take away the turkey from the brine and place it on a rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Pat it dry with paper towels and refrigerate uncovered for 2-3 hours.
raw turkey on rack over sheet pan in fridge.

PRO TIP: Permitting the turkey to air chill within the fridge uncovered will assist take away extra moisture from the pores and skin, so will probably be crispier.

  1. STEP FOUR: After the turkey has chilled within the fridge, place the pan on the counter. Minimize the Kerrygold butter into 5 items. Place one piece underneath the pores and skin of every breast.
butter cut into 5 pieces and then one piece cut in half.

Place 2 items within the cavity together with some celery, carrots, lemons, onions, thyme and sage. Break the final piece in half and place half in every thigh socket.

  1. STEP FIVE: Season the hen throughout with turkey rub, specializing in the breasts, legs and wings. The underside isn’t as vital.
raw turkey stuffed and seasoned.
  1. STEP SIX: Whereas the hen rests, warmth your drum smoker to 275-300F levels utilizing lump charcoal, 2 pecan wooden chunks and a pair of hickory wooden chunks. It’s additionally nice with delicate fruitwood, like apple.
bag of lump charcoal and wood chunks next to drum smoker.
  1. STEP SEVEN: Place the turkey on the heated smoker breast aspect up. Ensure that the rack is low sufficient that the lid will shut all the way in which.
raw turkey on drum smoker rack.

PRO TIP: Tie the turkey drumsticks collectively and tuck the wings underneath for a prettier presentation.

  1. STEP EIGHT: After about 2 1/2 hours, the pores and skin will begin to be golden, which implies it’s time to baste the hen. Mix the bacon grease, whiskey and soy sauce and brush it everywhere in the hen. You are able to do this a few occasions in the course of the last stage of cooking.
basting a smoked turkey.
  1. STEP NINE: Proceed smoking the turkey till the inner temperature within the thickest a part of the thigh reaches about 180F levels. Shut down all of the vents on the smoker to extinguish the warmth and let the turkey relaxation on the smoker till it’s time to carve.

The best way to serve smoked turkey

When it’s time to current your smoked turkey masterpiece, put together a big platter with an association of recent herbs, like parsley, sage and rosemary. Place the hen proper on the mattress of herbs.

Overhead view of a smoked turkey on a platter.

To carve the turkey meat, begin by eradicating the legs adopted by the wings.

To take away the turkey breast meat, run your knife alongside the spine and comply with that bone down till it curves. As soon as it’s separated, you may slice the breast into half-inch items.

Pull the darkish meat from the thighs and place strips of that on the platter with the leg bones.


Smoked turkey could be saved in an hermetic container within the fridge for as much as 5 days. It will also be frozen for as much as six months.

In case you have a whole lot of turkey leftover, divide it up into smaller baggage, so you may pull parts out for future meals like sandwiches, taquitos, quiches or hand pies.

GCG Professional Pitmaster Suggestions

  • Brine your turkey for 8-12 hours to make sure juiciness
  • Permit your turkey to air chill for 2-4 hours for crispy pores and skin
  • Don’t skimp on the butter; it provides taste
  • Smoke at 275-300F levels with pecan and hickory wooden
  • Baste towards the tip with a whiskey bacon glaze
  • For a juicy turkey, let it relaxation earlier than slicing

Incessantly Requested Questions

How lengthy does it take to smoke a turkey?

For those who’re smoking a turkey on a drum smoker at 275-300F levels, it is going to take about 1 hour for each 4 kilos your turkey weighs. So a 12-pound turkey will take about 3 hours and a 16-pound turkey will take about 4 hours.

What number of kilos of turkey do I want per particular person?

Plan on 1 pound of raw turkey per particular person. So, should you’re feeding 12, you’ll need a minimum of a 12-pound hen. As soon as the turkey is cooked, you’ll have about one-third of it’s authentic weight in cooked meat. That’s about 3.5 kilos for a 12-pound hen, which equals about 5 ounces of meat per particular person. That’s lots should you’re serving a whole lot of Thanksgiving Dinner aspect dishes. If you’d like additional turkey for leftovers, make a bigger hen – or higher but – two birds.

How can I make gravy with this recipe?

Set your drum smoker up with two racks. Place a drip pan on the decrease rack to gather the drippings. Then, place the turkey on the highest rack. Be sure that the highest rack isn’t too excessive. The smoker lid wants to shut to seal within the warmth. Pressure the drippings to take away extra fats. In a pot, make a roux with equal elements butter and flour. Add within the pan drippings and whisk, till it thickens. Add extra broth, if wanted and season with salt and pepper to style.

Different Methods to Smoke Turkey

Turkey Suggestions

Need much more nice grilling recipes and suggestions? Subscribe to my publication and comply with me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my newest grilling adventures. For those who make a recipe, I’d love on your to depart a remark and score beneath. Thanks.

smoked turkey on a platter with herbs.

Smoked Turkey on a Drum Smoker

In case you have a drum smoker, that is by far the perfect smoked turkey recipe as a result of it is juicy, crispy and basted with bacon grease and whiskey.

Recipe by Christie Vanover

Prep Time 15 hours

Prepare dinner Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Servings 14


  • Drum Smoker

  • Lump Charcoal

  • 2 Pecan Wooden Chunks

  • 2 Hickory Wooden Chunks

  • Meals-safe Bucket

  • 2 Turkey Dimension Oven Baggage


Turkey Brine

  • water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tbsp The Grill Dads Lemon Thyme Brine
  • 2 tbsp Large Poppa People who smoke Rooster Prod

Seasoning + Aromatics

  • 8 ozs Kerrygold salted butter
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion quartered
  • 1 bunch recent thyme
  • 1 bunch recent sage
  • 1/4 cup Turkey Rub

Whiskey Bacon Glaze

  • 1/2 cup bacon grease melted
  • 2 tbsp Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce


  • Make Brine: In a medium pot, mix 2 cups heat water, salt, sugar, lemon thyme brine and the cattle prod. Warmth till dissolved. Take away from warmth. Stir in 2 cups chilly water. Cool to a minimum of room temperature.

  • Brine: Take away the turkey from the packaging. Discard the organs, neck and pop-up thermometer, if it has one. Place two brine baggage inside a bucket. Place the turkey in breast aspect going through down. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey. Add extra cool water to totally cowl. Tie the interior bag in a knot, urgent out as a lot air as attainable. Place the bucket within the fridge for 8-12 hours.

  • Air Chill: Take away the turkey from the brine. Set it on a rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Pat it dry. Place the turkey within the fridge uncovered for 2-4 hours. This can take away extra moisture.

  • Season: Minimize the butter into 5 items. Place 1 piece underneath the pores and skin of every breast. Place 2 items contained in the cavity with the greens and herbs. Cut up the final piece in half and tuck one half into every thigh socket. Season throughout with turkey rub.

  • Warmth Grill: Warmth the drum smoker to 275-300F levels with lump charcoal and wooden chunks.

  • Smoke: Place the turkey on the smoker breast aspect up. Smoke for two 1/2 hours.

  • Baste: In a bowl, mix the melted bacon grease, whiskey and soy sauce. As soon as the turkey has began to show golden brown, brush the glaze everywhere in the hen. Proceed smoking till the turkey thigh reaches an inner temperature of about 180F levels.

  • Relaxation: As soon as the turkey is prepared, shut all the vents on the smoker to extinguish the fireplace. Permit the turkey to relaxation, till you are able to serve it.

  • Carve: Serve the entire turkey on a mattress of recent herbs on a platter. When able to carve it, take away the legs and wings. Carve off the breasts and slice into 1/2-inch thick items. Pull the remaining meat and organize on the platter with out the bones.


This smoked turkey can be nice with my conventional Smoked Turkey Brine recipe.
For the seasoning, strive my turkey rub or a mixture of my Spiceology Chicken Rub and Girl Carnivore’s Chick Fest.
The aromatics elements are versatile. You may stuff any kind of greens you favor into the cavity. They add taste as they steam.  
When checking the inner temperature of the turkey, place your meat thermometer into the thickest a part of the thigh with out touching the bone. 
When you shut down the grill and let the hen relaxation, you may go away it in there for as much as an hour. 


Energy: 693kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 70gFats: 40gSaturated Fats: 16gPolyunsaturated Fats: 6gMonounsaturated Fats: 13gTrans Fats: 1gLdl cholesterol: 275mgSodium: 4603mgPotassium: 802mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 2115IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 4mg

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