How To Make Homemade Cured & Smoked Turkey - Recipe
How To Make Homemade Cured & Smoked Turkey
Learn how to make a homemade cured & smoked whole turkey with Walton's and Meatgistics. Read the guide and then post your questions or comments below.
What Is Cured & Smoked Turkey?
Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the most popular times that you will find smoked and cured turkey from your local grocery store or meat market, but what about the rest of the year? With Walton’s and Meatgistics learn how to easily make your own homemade cured and smoked turkey so you can enjoy smoked and cured turkey all year long! Curing meats is a process of adding salt, nitrites, and seasoning, plus smoking to assist in meat preservation, plus affect the taste and appearance of meat products. Cured and smoked turkey has a tendency to develop a flavor slightly similar to ham and is a popular choice for many people when preparing a whole turkey for consumption.
15 lb whole turkey
Walton’s Complete Turkey Cure
Sodium Erythorbate - optional, see notes below
Cold Water - for best results place all water to be used in a container in a fridge overnight and do not use “hard” water
Two steps. First inject, then soak and brine overnight. This two-step process will help immediately begin to get the cure and seasoning into the turkey meat and then let it sit in a diluted cure solution overnight and let things equilibrate so the cure can adequately penetrate all areas of the turkey meat for a more even application
Prepare your injection solution first. For a 15 lb turkey follow these steps for preparing your injection solution. Start with 1.5 lb (24 oz) of cold water. Add 1.2 oz of cold phosphate to water and mix until completely dissolved. Then, mix 1/3 lb cure (5.3 oz) into the water and mix completely until dissolved and adequately dispersed (general usage - use 1.29 lb of cure to 1 gallon of water for a 10% pump). We recommend making extra of your injection solution, or on a single turkey, just double all the injection ingredients (cure, water, and phosphate) to make twice as much as is needed so you don’t run out during injecting. It’s always better to have a little bit of leftover injection solution. In this case, doubling would mean using 3.0 lb (48 oz) of cold water, 2.4 oz cold phosphate, and 2/3 lb (10.6 oz) of turkey cure.
Injection - We recommend doing an 8 point injection, with 4 injection points on each half of the turkey. Start with the turkey lying flat on a counter or cutting board and on its back with the bottom facing you. Your first injection will be in the middle of the breast and angled down towards the top of the turkey (repeat this injection on the other breast). Injection number 2 will be parallel to the counter, through the middle of the breast, towards the top of the turkey (repeat on both sides of the turkey breast). The third and fourth injection points will then be into the drumstick and leg and then inject into the thigh muscle (again repeat to inject both halves of the turkey). That gives us 4 injection points on each side of the turkey, for 8 total injection points.
Brining - Once your injection is complete, you can then brine the turkey overnight in a slightly diluted concentration of cure and water. To help the brine better penetrate through the skin and muscle, you can also slightly pull apart and create gaps in the skin and muscle. To make your cover brine, simply use twice as much water as the general usage that the cure requires. The size of your turkey and the size of container you use will affect how much solution for the cover brine that you will need to make. For a 15 lb turkey and the Walton’s Complete Turkey Cure, we need 10.5 oz (0.66 lb) of cure for each gallon of water. If you determine 3 gallons of cover brine is sufficient to fully submerge the turkey, then you would mix 3 gallons of water with 31.5 oz (1.96 lb) of cure. Simply take a Food Storage Container & Brining-Marinating Bucket, line the bucket with a Stark Bucket Liner, and then place your turkey in the bucket liner and container. Add your cover brine solution until the turkey is fully covered and submerged in the solution. You can then gather the excess of the top of the Stark Bucket Liner, push the turkey down into the solution so it is submerged, and then tie a knot in the top of the bucket liner so the turkey cannot float at the top of the solution and so it remains fully submerged in the brine solution. Hold the turkey in the brine solution overnight or approximately 12+ hours in your refrigerator or cooler (under 40° F)
After your injection is complete and the turkey has soaked in the brine solution for approximately 12 hours, remove the turkey from the cure and brine solution, discard the brine solution, and then you can begin preparation for cooking and smoking. You can also add an outside rub or seasoning for additional or different flavorings.
Thermal Processing & Smoking
Stage 1 - 125° F for 1 hour with smoker vents open
Stage 2 - 145° F for 2 hours and begin smoking
Stage 3 - 200° F until internal meat temp of 165°
After smoking and cooking is complete, you can immediately eat the turkey
Or remove from smokehouse and cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Then vacuum seal and place the turkey or leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer for later consumption.
- If your smoker cannot go as low as 125° or 145° then use the next lowest temperature setting your smoker can achieve for the first 2 stages of smoking
- If you are cooking in an oven and cannot add smoke, trying using Hickory Smoke Powder as a substitute. Hickory Smoke Powder can be dissolved in your injection solution and injected directly into the turkey meat
Try Using Other Excalibur Seasoning Cures
You can use other types of cures for a different flavor profile. Use the same process as described above, but change the cure usage per the specific requirements of the other cures
- Use Country Brown Cure at a ratio of 2.0 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for injection and 1.0 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for a cover brine
- Use Sweeter Than Sweet Cure at a ratio of 1.75 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for injection and 0.875 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for a cover brine
- Use Blue Ribbon Maple Cure at a ratio of 2.0 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for injection and 1.0 lb of cure per 1 gallon of water for a cover brine
- While we do recommend brining overnight, if you do need to quicken your process for making a smoked turkey, you can skip the brining and add Sodium Erythorbate or Cure Excellerator to your injection solution and proceed straight to the smoking step after the injection and seasoning is complete
- If you only want to brine the turkey and skip the injection process, then hold the turkey in the brine solution for 2 days, but make sure that the holding temp in your refrigerator or cooler does not exceed 35° F for meat safety.
I believe the recommended curing time is 12 hours but can I go less than that? I was expecting my order to be here tonight and it won’t be here till tomorrow morning now.
I was going to mix up my batch of jerky tonight but will have to do it tomorrow on my lunch break. Just wondering if tomorrow evening would be long enough to let the meat cure.
Your recipe calls for 1. Sure Cure, 2. Sure Gel Meat Binder, and 3. Smoked Meat Stabilizer. I have all but the Sure Gel Meat Binder. Can I get by without using this? Second question- Is Excalibur’s Cure Excellerator the same as Sure Cure?
@andyman Great question, Carrot Fiber holds up to 26 times its weight in water, and while the 80 oz is still well inside that I have never done that before. I max out (even with Carrot Fiber) at 64 oz which is 2 qts. My only fear with doing 80 is that it might take a lot longer to cook as it will have more water content that will be trying to evaporate. Most of that water should be bound up in the carrot fiber though so it wouldn’t really be available to be cooked out. Hmmm, my recommendation, to be safe is to stick with 64 oz of water.
Now, as to should you add more seasoning, some people will taste the difference if you did not add additional seasonings and some (most) will not. Your water and your seasoning is technically part of your meat block (anyone who is reading this who doesn’t consider this don’t worry!) so adjusting your meat block to include your water is sometimes done. If you do decide to add more spices or seasonings I would add aromatics and things like Rosemary and Basil, don’t add more salt as that is formulated specifically for the meat block.
Hope this helps and if you do decide to go with 80 oz of water then I would be very interested in the results!
i use denuded round. higher cost, less waste, cleaner eating
@jonathon I enjoyed this line of questions and comments, it made me think. Here is my related question: Assume I use 25 lbs. of meat to make summer sausage and add one package, 4 oz., of Carrot Fiber and 80 oz. of water. The ratio is 20 times the weight of water to the weight of CF. In other words, I am adding 5 lbs. 4 oz. of water/CF paste to my meat dough. Should I adjust the amount of salt and spices, I add to the dough? I am concerned that the flavor will be weaker if I don’t add spices for the new total, 30 lbs. curious as to what y’all thinking.