Are You Smoking a Turkey This Thanksgiving? Try Martha's Foolproof Method for Perfect Results Year After Year

Give your oven a break and cook your turkey outside. Here, our founder explains why her low-fuss, no-baste technique is best.

martha stewart grilling turkey
Photo: Paola + Murray

Thanksgiving is one of my family's most cherished holidays. It's one of the big ones, along with Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Every year, we think carefully about the menu, combining old favorites with fresh discoveries, new ingredients with tried-and-true ones, and, of course, innovative techniques and equipment with tools we have had forever.

This year, we decided to break out my brand-new outdoor grill: a custom-colored ceramic Grill Dome, which can be used for grilling, smoking, and even baking and roasting. I had never made a smoked turkey for the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving feast before, but the combination of a really great, organically raised bird and my new grill lured me to experiment. The delicious result is what you see here: a plump turkey that appears to have been lacquered with a deep-mahogany stain. The meat is tender, moist, and juicy, and the skin is crispy.

thanksgiving turkey
Paola + Murray

Martha's Method for Smoking a Turkey

The amount of smokiness is up to you. We used both hardwood (applewood, to be exact) and untreated, pure hardwood (otherwise known as lump) charcoal to create just the right flavor and temperature for the fire. We also marinated the bird with citrus and herbs, which is important for infusing the meat with depth of flavor.

The entire process reminded me of a deep-fried turkey that the southern chef Rena Prentis and I made at the South Carolina home of film producer Joel Silver in 1996. And the result was just as exciting and satisfying.

I had a great time smoking the turkey. It was a lot of fun, plus it was so nice to have my oven free to cook the sides and desserts. I hope you'll give my recipe for Smoked Turkey a try; it just might become your new tradition.

steaming gravy in pyrex cup strain through fine sieve
Paola + Murray

How to Make Martha's Gravy for Smoked Turkey

It's the final chef's kiss on Thanksgiving dinner. Here's a step-by-step guide for how to make the gravy Martha serves with her smoked bird.

turkey parts added to roasting pan
Paola + Murray

Place turkey neck, giblets, and wings in a roasting pan or large ovenproof skillet. Roast at 425°F until browned. Remove from oven.

turkey parts and vegetables simmering in roasting pan
Paola + Murray

Transfer turkey parts to a small stockpot. Add carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, and stock or water to cover. Simmer until flavorful, then strain, reserving neck and giblets.

smokey turkey gravy
Paola + Murray

Place pan over medium heat. Deglaze with wine or water, scraping up browned bits to release them from the bottom.

cut up turkey parts and broth added to roasting pan
Paola + Murray

Remove and shred meat from neck; cut up giblets. Add to pan with some of broth. Simmer until flavors are melded, about 10 minutes.

stir jarred mixture to simmering gravy
Paola + Murray

In a small jar, shake flour and some cooled broth to combine. Stir mixture into simmering gravy. Cook until thickened slightly, about one minute. If desired, strain through a fine sieve to remove solids. Serve warm.

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