The first thing you need in order to have a great smoked turkey is a good turkey. So whether you go and hunt you own or go buy one, you want to be sure to get a fresh turkey. We've found a 12-16 pound turkey will be the best size for smoking. A big 20 lb turkey is going to take 10-14 hours to smoke and with larger turkeys you have a much greater chance of food contamination (salmonella). A 12 lb bird is only going to take about 6 and 8 hours to smoke.
Of course you're also going to need a smoker, a good meat thermometer, a great hardwood like cherry or apple and lots of patience. Other BBQers prefer to use hickory chips or mesquite chips and still others just like the old standby of charcoal If you haven't chosen a wood before then you might want to see how to choose smoking wood chips, pieces, sticks and chunks.
Smoking your turkey results in a different color and texture than the more familiar oven roasted turkey. Smoked meat tends to appear pink and has a smoother texture. This is perfectly normal. The smoking process sets off a chemical change in the turkey resulting in this color change. As long as your turkey hits the internal temperature of 165 degrees it's safe to eat no matter the color.
Now when it comes to flavoring your bird you have a couple of options - using a brine or using a rub.
If you go the brine route you'll need to your bird for a good 24 hours before you cook. For a smoked turkey we like to make our brine with one part water and one part apple juice and use this Texas Smoked Turkey Rub as the flavor seasoning (use 3 tablespoons of Texas Smoked Turkey Rub per gallon of water).
The other option is to use this as a regular rub. If you go the rub route then we suggest you rub the bird down the night before you're going to smoke it.
When smoking we like to keep the bird moist and maximize flavor by making a mop using .5 cup of butter, 1 tbsp of apple juice and 1 tbsp of Smoked Turkey Rub.
Texas Smoked Turkey Rub is hand blended from brown sugar, paprika, smoked Mesquite salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, cayenne and cloves.