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
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:
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. AmazingRibs.com has a handy calculator that makes it easy to determine both the cure ratio and the minimum time required in the cure.
Read This First
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
Temperature Control Tips for the BX50
Wet cured turkeys on the BX50
Developing some color
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.