Smoke-Brined Turkey Recipe

Your guests will thank you for smoking

Every year, we try and outdo our turkey from Thanksgivings past. The problem is, techniques like deep-frying and smoking on a grill are not always easy to execute at home.

Enter John Lewis, the barbecue expert behind Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, South Carolina, who has developed a liquid smoke turkey brine exclusively for TT. Instead of smoking the turkey itself, liquid smoke is added to the brine, diffusing smoky flavor into the bird before getting roasted as usual. The resulting dish takes on flavor as if it had been slowly smoking for hours, while maintaining its juiciness and seasoning from the brine.

As with any turkey brine, the key is to dry the turkey completely with paper towels first. Then let the bird air-dry for an hour. In addition to being thoroughly dried and ready to go, the bird should also return to room temperature before roasting. The resulting turkey will be juicy and beautifully golden.

To learn more, read "Up in Smoke."

Recipe from John Lewis, Lewis Barbecue, Charleston, SC

Smoke-Brined Turkey
4.9 from 60 ratings
This brine adds that smoked flavor to turkey right in the comfort of your home, and the best part is there’s no fire required.
Prep Time
Cook Time
to 6 servings
Total time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1½ cups kosher salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 16 cups ice water
  • ½ cup (one 3½-ounce bottle) liquid smoke
  • One 8-to-10-pound turkey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. To a large pot of boiling water, add the salt and sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add the ice water and liquid smoke, and continue stirring to incorporate. The brine needs to be cold.
  2. Place the turkey into the liquid, making sure it is completely submerged, and brine in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat the oven to 350º. Remove the turkey from the brine and dry well with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan fitted with a rack and truss the legs. Air-dry at room temperature for 1 hour, then rub the turkey with the oil, making sure to coat the entire surface.
  4. Roast until the turkey is golden brown and reads 155º when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thigh, 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  5. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent with foil. Let rest 45 minutes to 1 hour before carving and serving.
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