If this is your first time, you’re better off choosing a small turkey. First, preheat the Bradley to the highest temperature you can get it. Do not load the bisquettes yet. During preheating, make sure the bisquette burning is also turned on and keep your vent to 1/4 – 1/2 opened. Load the bisquettes, then the turkey. After placing the turkey in the smoker, open the vent to 3/4 to fully open.
When smoking at low temperatures, the skin tends to turn out rubbery or leathery. I like to air dry my turkey uncovered in the refrigerator for 8 – 24 hours prior to smoking. It will look terrible after air drying, but this helps crisp the skin. Besides, it still looks great after it is fully smoked and cooked. I use 2:00 – 2:20 hours of apple or maple bisquettes.
How to Smoke the Turkey
There are a few ways you can smoke the turkey. You can smoke it whole on the rack horizontally. This takes the longest time to cook. Keep the cavity open so smoke and heat can get into the cavity. This speeds up cooking, and helps the breast cook more evenly.
You can use an aluminum pan, but it is preferable to use a pan with low sides. The bottom of the turkey may not take on any color, unless you have a rack that can elevate it from the bottom of the pan. Some will place the turkey directly on the rack, place a rack underneath with a pan to catch the drippings and/or minimize cleanup.
When cooking horizontally, there will be a lot of juices that collect in the cavity. Be careful when removing the bird from the smoker, when tilted, the juices will flow out. It only takes one occurrence for hot juices to spill on you leg and foot to learn this lesson the hard way.
Cooking it Vertically
Another way is to cook it vertically, but you will need a turkey vertical roaster. This method takes far less time than cooking it horizontally. A vertical roaster stands the turkey up. This allows the smoke and heat to flow into the cavity without any obstructions. This is my favorite way to smoke a turkey, because I have a Perforated Aluminum Turkey Chicken Poultry Deep Frying Rack.
When smoking a turkey vertically, you will need to double up the racks to support the weight. This is because now, the weight is no longer evenly distributed across the rack. For a 10 lb. turkey you may not have to double up the racks.
Butterfly the Turkey
A third way is to butterfly the turkey (spatchcock). This method will cook the turkey the fastest, and the dark and white meat cooks fairly consistently at the same rate.
Pro Tip: White meat comes from the breast and wings of the turkey, while dark is from the legs and thighs. White can be attributed to quick bursts of activity, it comes from fast-twitch muscles, while dark meat is a more consistent energy source, as it comes from slow-twitch muscles.
Multi-cook method. You start with any method listed above, but after applying the smoke, you move the turkey into a preheated kitchen oven and finish roasting there. Or after fully cooking the turkey in the Bradley, place it in a 425°F (218 C) preheated oven to crisp the skin. Monitor this very closely.
For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.