Smoked Rubbed Turkey with Apple Spice Brine – Thanksgiving on the Grill

Introducing Thanksgiving on the Grill's latest showstopper: Smoked Rubbed Turkey with Apple Spice Brine. As we gather with loved ones to give thanks for life's blessings, why not elevate your holiday feast to new heights by taking it to the great outdoors? Grilling infuses our favorite flavors into every bite and frees up valuable kitchen real estate for your beloved baker (wink, wink).

Let's dive into the magic of our Smoked Rubbed Turkey with Apple Spice Brine. We've crafted a brine that will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Picture this: a symphony of apple juice, cloves, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and fresh herbs, harmonizing together to create the perfect balance of moistness and flavor. This delectable brine sets the foundation for the culinary masterpiece that awaits.

Let's talk about our secret weapon – the Smoked Turkey Rub. A harmonious blend of brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, spices, and herbs, this rub is the key to transforming your turkey into a mouthwatering marvel. As the smoke dances around the bird, the rub works its magic, forming a tantalizingly crisp coating on the skin that will have your guests swooning.

Grilling a turkey is no simple task, but fear not, grillers and cooks! We've got you covered with foolproof instructions. It all starts with maintaining a steady temperature of 225 degrees. This low and slow approach ensures that every succulent bite is tender, juicy, and flavorful. As your chosen wood imparts its smoky essence, you'll be transported to a sensory wonderland, leaving your taste buds in awe.

Regarding doneness, our trusty meat thermometer becomes your best friend. Once the breasts and thighs reach a temperature of 165 degrees, it's time to remove the bird from the grill and let it take a well-deserved rest. Trust us; this short intermission is vital for the flavors to fully develop and mingle, resulting in the juiciest turkey you've ever sunk your teeth into.

So, my fellow grill enthusiasts, it's time to ignite the flames, embrace the sizzle, and embark on a gastronomic adventure. Grab your turkey apron, slip on those turkey oven mitts, and cozy up in a turkey sweater. Because this Thanksgiving, we're rewriting the rules. Say goodbye to mundane oven-baked turkeys and hello to the sensational experience of Thanksgiving on the Grill.

Serves 7-9

Smoked Rubbed Turkey with Apple Spice Brine Ingredients

  • 1 15-pound turkey (defrosted)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
  • Smoked Turkey Rub
  • 4 cups water (to start, more to refill)

Smoked Turkey Rub

  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Apple Spice Turkey Brine

  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (or 1 cup table salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 Tablespoon candied ginger
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 sprigs each rosemary, sage, and thyme

After the brine is cooked

  • 6 cups of ice cubes
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 large apple (quartered)
  • 1 yellow onion (quartered)

Smoked Rubbed Turkey with Apple Spice Brine Directions

Apple Spice Turkey Brine

  1. Combine the water, apple juice, salt, spices, and herbs in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the brine from the heat and stir in the remaining cold apple juice and the ice cubes. Once the brine is thoroughly chilled, pour over your turkey. Nestle the sliced apple and onion in the brine around your turkey. Brine in a container that can keep the turkey fully submerged in the brine.
  3. Keep your turkey and brine below 40 degrees F during the entire brining process. Brine your turkey for approximately 1 hour per pound of turkey.
  4. Once your turkey has been in the brine for long enough, remove it and gently rinse the bird's inside and exterior. Pat completely dry and drizzle with a bit of cooking oil or melted butter for crispier skin. If you like, you can stuff the turkey cavity with the apple and onion slices from the brine.

Smoked Turkey Rub

  1. Combine all ingredients for the smoked turkey rub in a medium bowl. Use a fork to combine and break up the sugar.
  2. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.


  1. Preheat whatever type of grill you are using for indirect smoking at 225 degrees F. If you're using gas, turn on half of the burners to medium-low and leave the other half off. If you are using charcoal, preheat your coals until just ashed over, dump them on one far side of your grill, and set the vents to about 25% open. If you use a dedicated smoker, preheat it to 225 degrees F. If needed, add the wood chunks or chips to achieve a thin blue smoke.
  2. Remove your defrosted turkey from the packaging. Remove the neck and giblets from the inside cavity of the bird. If your turkey has been brined, carefully rinse the exterior of the turkey with cold water. Pat the turkey down on all sides with a paper towel. Tie the legs together with butcher's twine and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder joint.
  3. Coat the bird's exterior with olive oil or melted butter, then season on all sides with the Smoked Rub.
  4. At 225 degrees F, you can plan approximately 30 minutes per pound for your turkey to smoke. For example, this 15-pound turkey will take 7 and 1/2 hours at 225 degrees F. I always plan an extra 30 minutes, just in case.
  5. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the turkey's temperature in the breast and thigh. Make sure you test both sides of the bird, ESPECIALLY if you are smoking on a gas or charcoal grill where the temperatures may have been higher on one side than the other. You will go off the lowest reading you get from each side of the turkey. Once temperatures exceed 165 degrees F, it is time to remove the smoked turkey to a large platter or cutting board.
  6. Allow the turkey to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. If your turkey is done a little early, cover it with foil and wrap it with towels to insulate and keep the heat at a safe serving temperature.
  7. All that's left is to decide if you're a light or dark meat person, slice into that pretty bird, and get after it! Happy Thanksgiving!


Taken from