New England Smoked Whole Turkey

Culinary Setting
Meal Type
Main Course, Entrée
3 HR
Cooking Style
Whole Turkey


12-lb WHOLE TURKEY, fresh or thawed

1-1/4 c kosher salt

1 qt hot water

4 qt cold water

1 c maple syrup

1 Medium onion, thinly sliced

4 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

10 Black peppercorns

5 Bay leaves

4 Strips lemon zest

2 Whole cloves

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 c turkey drippings


3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp flour

1/4 c Madeira wine

1/4 c prepared coffee

1/4 c heavy cream

2 tbsp maple syrup



The night before cooking, remove the giblets from the main and front cavities.

Prepare the brine. Place salt and 1 quart hot water in a large deep stockpot and whisk until salt crystals are dissolved. Whisk in cold water and maple syrup.

Add onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon zest and cloves.

Cool the mixture in the refrigerator to a temperature of 40 degrees F.

Add the chilled turkey. Place a large zip top bag filled with ice-cold water on top to keep the bird submerged. Place the turkey in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.


Prepare the grill for indirect grilling and preheat the grill to medium heat.

If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in center and toss hardwood chips on the coals. To maintain the correct heat, if using a charcoal grill, replenish coals and wood chips every hour (or more depending on wind and weather).

If using a gas grill, place the hardwood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high smoke appears, then reduce the heat to medium.

If using a smoker, light and set it up according to the manufacturers instructions and preheat to 275 degrees F.

Meanwhile, drain the turkey and pat with clean paper towels.

Place the turkey on the grate over the drip pan away from the fire. Brush with 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. (Use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness-the turkey is ready when the thigh meat is 165 degrees.) Baste the turkey with melted butter every hour. If the skin starts to brown too much, tent the bird with foil. On a kettle grill, tent the sides closest to the piles of coals.

As a general guideline, if using a grill, cook the turkey for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours: if using a smoker, cook the bird about 3-1/2 to 4 hours until the proper internal temperature is reached (see above).

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Reserve the turkey drippings from the drip pan.


Strain turkey drippings into a fat separating gravy boat and allow time for the fat to rise to the top. Pour the non-fatty drippings into a large measuring cup, stopping when the fat begins to pour. Add enough stock to yield 3 cups.

Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until a dark golden brown color develops, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in Madeira, coffee, cream, maple syrup and turkey drippings with reserved turkey stock. Return pan to heat and bring to a boil, whisking steadily.

Reduce heat and simmer the gravy over medium heat until richly flavored and reduced to about 3 cups, about 6 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.