Smoked Christmas Turkey

Cherry Smoked Turkey with Cranberry Dry Rub and Cherry Stuffing

This is a recipe for doing your turkey on a ProQ water smoker this Festive Season.

Millions of households around the world are filled with anxiety, when faced with the prospect of producing a succulent and golden bird for family and friends - Don't panic, this is a whole lot easier than you may think, and we're going to walk you through it. The key here is preparation, if you can do everything except the cooking before the day, it'll make your life a whole lot easier.

Serves 8 -12

Method: Hot Smoking

Suggested Wood: Cherry

Approx. Cook Time: 6 hours + 1 hour preparation time. But, the rub should be started 48 hours beforehand (as the cranberries take around this time to dry out). The rest can be done the day before and refrigerated overnight.


  • 1 Turkey 10 - 12lbs
  • 100g butter


  • 8 streaky bacon strips, diced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 200g bread cubes
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dried cherries

Dry Rub

  • ¼ cup sun dried cranberries (use more if you're planning on making more rub)
  • 1 tbsp Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder



In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, and remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels, drain the pan, but keep 2 tablespoons of the dripping. Fry the celery and onion in the drippings until softened.

In a large bowl, combine the stuffing cubes, broth, sage, thyme, pepper and salt. Stir in the bacon, celery mixture and cherries.

Dry Rub

Spread the cranberries onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and place in the oven at 70°C or 160°F for 48 hours, once you remove them, they should go crisp as they cool.

Once cooled, roughly blend the cranberries to chop them up.

Add the Thyme and Rosemary to a mortar and crush. Add this, cranberries, the salt and garlic powder to a bowl and mix well.


Set up your water smoker (see here for basic set up instructions), allowing for the fact that you will need to keep the smoker going for at least 6 hours, so don't skimp on the charcoal. Getting the smoker ready at this stage, before you tackle the turkey, will ensure that it is ready to go as soon as the turkey is prepared.

Make sure the Turkey is fully defrosted before you start. Step 1 through to step 3 should be done at least 2 hours before going onto the smoker, but can be done in advance the day before and then the bird should be kept refrigerated overnight.

Step 1

Just before smoking, loosely stuff the turkey with your cool stuffing, through the neck cavity.

Step 2

Loosen the skin, by pushing your fingers beneath it. Be careful not to make a hole in the skin (those of you with long nails).

Step 3

Once the skin is loose, take a teaspoon and use this to insert the butter beneath the skin, making sure to spread it evenly.

Step 4

Use some of the left over butter and rub the outside of the turkey (this will not only add flavour to the skin, but will also help the rub stick to the bird). Sprinkle the turkey with plenty of cranberry rub, then massage it thoroughly.

Step 5

Your smoker should be running at between 220 and 250°F, if you have a ProQ™ Frontier or ProQ™ Excel 20, slight adjustments can be made to the air vents to set your smoker to the required temperature.

Step 6

Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before placing it on one of the cooking grills of your water smoker, with a probe in the breast as this is the thickest part of the bird. Pop the lid on and open the top vent, this is also the time to add your cherry wood to the coals.

Some points to remember... at this time of year, we have to be aware that wind and lower ambient temperatures (the biggest thieves of the temperature inside your smoker) will come into play, so if you can, place your smoker in a sheltered area that is out of the way, as we also don't want someone accidentally knocking the smoker over and ruining our Turkey.

Step 7

Carefully and lovingly remove the bird form the smoker once its internal temperature hits 170°F or 76°C. Allow the bird to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

N.B. The Cranberry rub recipe was provided by our friend PitmasterX