Hickory Turkey Recipe
Hickory Turkey Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Hickory Turkey Recipe

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With a delicious hickory-smoked flavor, this grilled turkey brings a southern twist to the Thanksgiving table—Kim Russell, North Wales, Pennsylvania
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 45 min. + marinating Grill: 2 hours + standing
MAKES:12 servings
Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 45 min. + marinating Grill: 2 hours + standing
MAKES: 12 servings


  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 1 jar (6 ounces) pickled ginger slices, drained
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, halved
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram or 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1-1/2 cups reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds)
  • 4 cups soaked hickory wood chips
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 large navel orange, cut into wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Nutritional Facts

10 ounces cooked turkey equals 607 calories, 31 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 245 mg cholesterol, 235 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 73 g protein.


  1. In a stockpot, bring the first 12 ingredients to a boil. Cook and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
  2. Remove giblets from turkey; discard. Place a turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag; add turkey. Carefully pour cooled brine into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bags and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Prepare grill for indirect heat, using a drip pan. Add wood chips to grill according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain turkey and discard brine. Rinse turkey under cold water; pat dry. Place the onion, orange and garlic inside cavity. Tuck wings under turkey; tie drumsticks together. Combine oils; rub over skin.
  4. Place turkey over the drip pan. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 1 hour. Tent turkey with foil; grill 1-2 hours longer or until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 170°-175°. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes before carving. Yield: 12 servings.
Editor’s Note: It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.
Originally published as Hickory Turkey in Grill It 2009, p168

Medium-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied white wine such as Riesling or Gewürtztraminer

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Reviewed Nov. 3, 2013

"Haven't made it but it sounds delicious. By the way in both the North and South prior to the Civil War ginger and other "Asian" style ingredients were popular, at least among those who could afford them. The need to get spices and other perishables from places such as Asia led to the development of the Baltimore clippers."

Reviewed Nov. 3, 2013

"You have put enough ingredients to make it not taste like turkey, but a poor excuse for both a traditional meal and a quality grill turkey. A softer wood such as apple might tame this Tom, but I doubt it. True Southern style turkey is not using the Asisan style ingredients. Nice try."

Reviewed Nov. 3, 2013

"Love it ."

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