November 5

How to Cure and Smoke Turkeys in the BX50 Smoker


How to Cure and Smoke Turkey on the BX50 Smoker

About the Author: Marlin Gingerich lives in southeastern Iowa with his wife and daughter. He's enjoyed cooking on Meadow Creek equipment for more than a dozen years.

Our family has long enjoyed the flavors of smoked turkey in our Thanksgiving celebrations. In recent years, I kept hearing about cured turkey, but never made or tasted it. A couple of years ago, I saw an advertisement for a poultry cure blend, so I decided to give it a try.

From the first cured turkey I made, the tenderness and flavor was absolutely incredible. I've done it several times now and don’t think I’ll ever go back to smoking an uncured turkey again! The cure gives the meat a delicious "hammy" flavor and keeps it very tender. The dark meat stays pink as you can see in the photo above.

Steps for Curing and Brining a Turkey

  • Brine the turkey in a wet cure using a store-bought poultry cure or a made-from-scratch brine. Keep reading for brining guidelines.
  • Fire your smoker at 155 degrees F. Cook the turkey for 2 hours, then raise the temperature to 185–200 and cook the turkey until the deepest part of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Read my notes on firing the BX50 below.
  • Carve and serve the turkey or debone it for pulled turkey. The meat is delicious served hot or cold and is perfect for a variety of uses including sandwiches, salads, and an epic Thanksgiving feast.

Turkeys cooking on the Meadow Creek BX50 cabinet smoker

Step 1: Brine the Turkey in a Wet Cure

I use a wet cure mix named "Blue Ribbon Maple Cure" from my favorite supplier, Home Butchering Supplies in Antigo, Wisconsin. This old-school company doesn’t have a website, but you can call them at 715-623-0055 and ask about a catalog or placing an order.

Purchase this mix and follow the instructions they provide or mix your own brine from scratch using Insta Cure #1 and several common ingredients. You can order this cure from Meadow Creek Barbecue Supply:

The components of a wet cure brine are as follows:

  • Distilled water
  • Salt (according to preference)
  • Sugar (optional for sweetness)
  • Insta Cure #1
  • Other ingredients to build the flavor profile you want

As a starting point, you can use 1 cup of Morton’s kosher salt and 1 cup of granulated sugar for each gallon of water. The mix I use from Home Butchering Supplies contains salt, cane and maple sugar, and cure, and I'm guessing the salt and sugar ratios are similar.

When doing a wet cure, the two main challenges are determining the ratio of the cure to total liquid and the time required in the cure. has a handy calculator that makes it easy to determine both the cure ratio and the minimum time required in the cure.

  • Sanitize a bucket large enough to hold the meat and brine. Add the brine ingredients and stir until the salt dissolves.
  • Chill the brine and add the turkey, making sure to completely cover the turkey with brine. The best way to contain the brine and keep the meat submerged is using the Turkey Tom Briner Bucket. This bucket has an adjustable-height locking plate that makes it easy to hold the meat under water. For this cook, I'm simply using a gallon pitcher to mix my brine and brining the turkeys in zip-top bags. I set the filled bags in a container to catch leaks.
  • Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for the time recommended by the calculator.

Read This First

  • Follow the instructions carefully. Curing meat can make you sick or worse if you break the rules.
  • Use distilled water and a sanitized container for wet curing to avoid the growth of bad bacteria in the brine.
  • Never substitute curing salt #1 with another product.
  • Use a non-reactive container for brining, such as glass or plastic.
  • Make sure your fridge is running colder than 38 degrees F!

Butterball turkeys

Turkeys with the neck skin and tails trimmed

A gallon of brine

Turkeys brining in gallon zip-top bags

Step 2: Smoke the Turkey

I'm using my Meadow Creek BX50 Smoker for this cook and running it dry (without water in the water pan).

To cook the turkey, fire your smoker at 155 degrees F. Cook the turkey at this temperature for 2 hours, then raise the temperature to 185–200 and cook the turkey until the deepest part of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Because the turkey is cured, we can cook it at a lower temperature than we could if it wasn't cured. The low temperature in the smoker lets the turkey absorb more smoke and cook through without overheating the outside. It took a total of 7 hours and 45 minutes for all of the turkeys to reach at least 160 degrees internal temperature. If you don't have the patience to cook a turkey this long, you could safely cook it at 225 for the entire time.

I started the turkeys breast down, then flipped them 3 hours into the cook. If you wish to leave them in one position, turn them so that the breast is facing away from the heat source.

Firing and Operating the BX50 Smoker

  • Load the smoker with eighteen pounds of charcoal briquettes and several splits of dry smoking wood.
  • With the stack and bottom vents fully open, light the charcoal with a propane torch. Leave the firebox door and stack vent open and the torch on medium to low flame for 10–15 minutes or until the bottom smoker thermometer nears 155 degrees.
  • Remove the torch and close the firebox door. Adjust the bottom vents to 1/4 open and the stack to 1/2 open.
  • Give the smoker 10–15 minutes to respond and make slight adjustments on the bottom vents to maintain 155 degrees on the bottom thermometer. Check on it every 20 minutes and make adjustments as needed until you're comfortable that it's dialed in.
  • Two hours in, adjust the bottom vents to halfway open or as needed to raise the temperature to 185–200 degrees for the rest of the cook.

Temperature Control Tips for the BX50

  • A temperature controller eliminates the need to dial in the vents and makes it easier to maintain the low temperature of 155 degrees F, but it’s not necessary.
  • It’s harder to lower the temperature in this smoker than it is to raise it, so pay attention as it’s coming up to temperature.
  • To raise the temperature in the smoker, give the fire more air by turning the spin vents counter-clockwise. To lower the temperature, give the fire less air.
  • If you haven't lit enough coals and it takes too long to get the smoker up to temperature, crack the firebox door a bit for a while.

Wet cured turkeys on the BX50

Developing some color

Done cooking

Step 3: Serve

Let the meat cool for 15 minutes, then carve and serve the turkey or debone it for pulled turkey. The meat is delicious served hot or cold.

We love cured, smoked turkey on sandwiches, lettuce salads, scrambled eggs, and with our holiday celebrations. In my opinion, it makes the best turkey for serving with a Thanksgiving meal of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and other sides.

Cured and smoked turkey ready to serve

Turkey ready to carve or debone

Tender and juicy cured and smoked turkey

The BX50 smoker is a charcoal-fired cabinet-style smoker. These smokers are insulated and feature a smart design, making them easy and efficient to operate. The BX50 is popular among backyarders, competitors, and caterers.


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