White Wine Brined, Smoked Turkey

I cannot recommend this turkey highly enough. It is simply amazing. Tender and juicy with just the right amount of smokiness – not like barbecue, but definitely present. The white wine brine is key in yielding juicy meat, and it adds a subtle flavor that is ever so slightly fruity. The turkey drippings are collected in a pan to make a wonderfully smoky white wine and garlic gravy that will transform mashed potatoes into the most heavenly side. Plan on brining overnight, for at least 15 hours, and about 4 hours of smoking time.

Note: If you would like to smoke the turkey in the Hybrid Fire Grill, we have described a few methods in our Barbecue Techniques Grilling Guide. We recommend using our barbecue wood pellet adapters and following option one.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 12 to 14
Image of White Wine Brined, Smoked Turkey

  • 12 to 14 pound free range turkey

For the Brine

  • 2 cups water plus 8 cups cold water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
  • 2 tablespoons whole juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole mustard seed
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 750ml chilled white wine (we used 2015 Groth Sauvignon Blanc)

For Inside the Bird

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into eighths
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

For the Gravy

  • 750ml white wine
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Also Needed

  • 2 turkey brining bags
  • Roasting rack
  • Aluminum roasting pan
  • Apple wood chunks for smoking

To make the brine, bring 2 cups of the water and 1 cup of kosher salt to a boil in a large pot. Simmer and stir until the salt is dissolved. Stir in the turbinado sugar until it dissolves. Stir the red onions, garlic, juniper berries, mustard seed and bay leaves into the hot liquid. Remove from heat and let the flavors combine for 5 minutes. Add the cold water and chilled wine to the brine.

Remove the neck, giblets, trussing and any temperature probes from the turkey. Place one brining bag inside the other then place the turkey inside the inner bag and pour in the brine. Remove as much air as possible and seal the inner bag. Seal the outer bag for security. Refrigerate overnight, brining for 16 to 24 hours.

Prepare the smoker for 275°F, smoking with apple wood for flavor. We recommend preheating the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet for 1 hour before putting in the food.

Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Thoroughly rinse the turkey under cold running water then pat it dry inside and out. This helps make the skin extra crispy when cooking. The turkey should sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before placing it in the smoker.

Brush the outside of the turkey all over with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stuff the turkey cavity with lemon, onion, rosemary and butter. Place the turkey in a roasting rack with the breast side up.

For the gravy, place the wine, broth, garlic and rosemary in the roasting pan.

If available, insert a meat thermometer (the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet includes one with the pit computer) into the thickest portion of the turkey thigh, making sure to not get it close to the bones. Set the meat thermometer alarm to 165°F.

For the Kalamazoo smoker cabinet, remove the top shelf. Place the roasting pan on the bottom shelf, and place the turkey with the roasting rack on the shelf above the roasting pan. If your smoker does not have multiple shelves, place the roasting rack in the roasting pan, but make sure the turkey is not touching the liquid in the pan.

turkey in smoker

Smoke the turkey, maintaining moderate smoke, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours.

Once the turkey has reached 165°F, measured at the deepest part of the thigh, remove it from the smoker and let it rest on a carving board for 20 minutes before carving.

apple wood smokey turkey

To make the gravy, start by making a roux. Brown the flour in a large pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, once it has darkened almost to the color of light brown sugar, add the butter, combining thoroughly. Add the liquid from the roasting pan. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until the gravy has thickened to the desired consistency.