Southwestern Smoked Turkey Recipe

3h 30m

This Southwestern Smoked Turkey is a fun and flavourful departure from the ordinary herb-laden, oven-roasted bird. The spicy compound butter does double duty as an injection and seasoning. The result is a juicy turkey with bold and bright flavours.


Smoked Turkey

5.5 kg turkey , fresh or thawed
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons Southwestern seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt


meat syringe
half sheet pan with rack


Black Pepper – either Malibar or Tellicherry in a 16-mesh grind
Southwestern Seasoning – use your personal favourite


  1. Mix the compound butter – Mix the softened butter, Southwestern Seasoning, and lime juice.
  2. Spatchcock the turkey – Use a pair of kitchen shears or a large butcher knife to remove the backbone. Flip the turkey over, place the base of a hand on the sternum and forcibly push down, flattening the bird. Tuck the wing tips behind the bird’s back.
    HOT TIPIt is easiest to put the turkey breast side down and then cut up each side along the backbone.
  3. Make the Injection – Combine ½ cup of the compound butter with the chicken stock and ½ teaspoon of salt over low heat. Allow cooling before injecting.
  4. Inject the turkey – Draw the injection mixture into a meat syringe and inject it into the turkey. Inject about 5ml per site into several places on each breast, wings, thighs, and drumsticks.
    HOT TIPHere are examples of meat syringes. These used to be hard to find specialized equipment, but now you can find them in many grocery stores.
  5. Dry the turkey (optional) – Wipe off the excess injection, place the turkey on a resting rack on top of a half sheet pan and place in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
  6. Preheat – Preheat your Oklahoma Joe’s® Smoker to 150-160°C. Fill the firebox or charcoal basket with hardwood lump charcoal and place a water pan in the cooking chamber next to the firebox opening. Light one corner, and leave the side door open until the grill gets to 120°C. Shut the door and start with the vents fully open. Start shutting the air intake vent gradually and let the temperature “coast” up into the 150-160°C range.
  7. Butter the turkey – Season the back side of the turkey with salt and pepper. Work a finger or two under the skin and stuff about half of the remaining butter mixture under the skin of the breasts, thighs, and legs. Spread the rest of the butter all over the top side of the turkey.
    HOT TIPSeasoning under the skin of poultry boosts flavour because it is difficult for seasoning to get through poultry skin.
  8. Smoke the turkey – Place the turkey in the smoker, still on the rack/half sheet pan. Add preheated wood splits as desired for smoke. The lump coal alone will give a mild smoke flavour. Add one to two wood splits at the beginning for a moderate smoke flavour. Add wood splits repeatedly for a heavy wood smoke flavour. Smoke until reaches internal temperatures of 160°F in the breasts and 180°F in the thighs, about 3 to 3½ hours.
    HOT TIPThe half sheet pan keeps your smoker clean and it collects the turkey drippings that you can use to make gravy.
  9. Rest the turkey – Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes and then serve.

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