This Smoked Turkey with Candied Pecan and Apple Stuffing recipe is exactly what you need to spice things up this holiday season! It takes 15 minutes to prep and the result is a tender, moist, flavorful turkey stuffed with moist and chewy apple stuffing and crispy, crunchy candied pecans.
This smoked turkey with candied pecan and apple stuffing recipe is probably the only turkey recipe I’ll ever use again.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but seriously. It’s that good. This smoked turkey has a beautiful smoked hickory skin, the perfect texture, and it’s infused with layers upon layers of savory flavors. Bonus: it also doesn’t require a brine and it gives you all the extra space in the oven since it’s made in the smoker!
Are you curious yet? Good.
What you need to make this recipe
Candied Pecans Ingredients
- Pecans – use whole pecans, not chopped.
- Water and Brown Sugar – the “candy” for the pecans. The brown sugar dissolves into the water which then hardens around the pecans to form a sweet, crunchy exterior.
- Creole Seasoning – I use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning Apple Stuffing.
Apple Stuffing Ingredients
- Wheat Bread – cut into ½-inch cubes.
- Apples – any tart apple will work. Be sure to peel, seed, and chop into small chunks.
- Butter – used to add flavor depth and sauté the veggies.
- Onion and Celery – sautéed with the apple to add sweetness, flavor, and texture to the stuffing.
- Garlic – I recommend using freshly minced garlic for the best flavor.
- Parsley, Rosemary, and Thyme – I recommend using fresh herbs but dry herbs will work in a pinch.
- Candied Pecans – from above.
- Fresh Parsley – more for garnish, if desired.
Smoked Turkey Ingredients
- Turkey – you’ll need one 12-17 pound turkey. Be sure to remove the giblets and pat it dry.
- Injectable Marinade – I use Tony Chachere’s Praline Honey Ham Injectable Marinade.
- Oil – you can use vegetable or canola oil.
- Creole Seasoning – again, use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning Apple Stuffing.
- Candied Pecans, Coarse Salt, and Fresh Parsley – for garnish!
How to make smoked turkey with candied pecan and apple stuffing
There are three parts to this recipe, but don’t worry. They’re all easy to make!
Make the Candied Pecans
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then toast the pecans until fragrant, stirring as needed.
Combine the water, brown sugar, and creole seasoning in a small bowl.
Remove the pecans from the heat and quickly pour the brown sugar mixture over them. Toss to coat.
Pour the coated pecans onto a wax paper lined baking sheet to cool.
Make the Apple Stuffing
Lay the bread out on two baking sheets in a single layer for 4-6 hours to allow it to become stale.
In the skillet you used for the pecans, heat butter over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan.
Add in the apple, onion, and celery, and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add in garlic, parsley, rosemary, and thyme and cook for another 30 seconds.
Remove from heat, then fold the apple and onion mix into a large bowl with the bread.
Add the chopped pecans and toss to make sure everything is combined. Season with creole seasoning, if necessary.
Smoke the Turkey
Prep your electric smoker on the smoke setting. When the smoker setting has warmed up, set it to 200-225ºF.
Pat the turkey dry then place it into an aluminum pan or other rimmed pan. Tuck the arms back behind the body and tie the legs together to leave an opening for the cavity later.
Pour the Tony’s Praline Honey Ham Injectable Marinade into a measuring cup, fill the injector, then plunge the injector into the turkey, about ½-1” apart each time, pressing the injection into the turkey.
Place the pan with the turkey into the smoker and smoke for 3 hours. After 3 hours, remove the turkey, and use a baster to remove and reserve any drippings.
Stuff the turkey with the prepared stuffing, mix oil and seasoning in a bowl, and brush a quarter of it over the turkey.
Cook for another 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the remaining oil mix and removing drippings as needed. Be sure to reserve them.
When the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165ºF, remove from the smoker, cover, and allow it to rest for 25-30 minutes before carving.
OPTIONAL: make gravy from the reserved drippings and giblets, if desired.
Serve the turkey garnished with additional candied pecans, freshly minced parsley, and gravy!
When do you add the stuffing to smoked turkey?
You’ll add the stuffing to the turkey halfway through the cook time. So the turkey will cook on it’s own for 3 hours, you’ll add the stuffing, then it will cook for the final 3 hours.
If the stuffing was cooked for the full 6 hours with the turkey, it would dry out.
What wood to use for smoking turkey?
My favorite answer to this question is to use whatever you have on hand. However, if you are going shopping for wood anyway, I recommend using a sweet wood like cherry, apple, or pecan.
You can use hickory or mesquite, but the flavor is pretty intense, especially after 6 hours of cooking.
How long does it take to smoke a turkey?
This depends on the size of your turkey, but for the 12-17 pound turkey we use in this recipe it takes about 6 hours!
TIP: Use a meat probe or thermometer to verify that the internal temperature of the turkey is at least 160ºF before serving.
How do you keep a smoked turkey moist?
Normally, I would say soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution, or a brine, is the key to moist turkey. And in most cases that’s true! However, since we’re using Tony’s Praline Honey Ham Injectable Marinade, there’s no real need to brine the turkey. The injectable marinade adds moisture and flavor like a brine would but without the extra time.
Additionally, since the turkey is cooked low and slow in the turkey, there is less of a concern about it drying out.
Tips, tricks, and notes for this recipe
- Know your smoker. Check out my Smoking 101 post so you can know exactly what you’re doing for this recipe.
- Skip the brine time. Turkey loves a good brine, but with quick and easy injection instructions, the brine isn’t needed.
- Reserve the drippings. Don’t forget to save any drippings you remove from the turkey. This can be used as the base for a homemade gravy!
- Brush the turkey a few times with the oil and spice blend while it’s smoking to keep the skin pretty and add a little extra flavor.
- Let the turkey rest. After the turkey is done cooking, be sure to let it rest for 20-25 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices and flavor to soak back into the meat so it doesn’t just seep out when you cut into it.
- To prep ahead of time: If you want to prep some of this recipe ahead of time, you can make the stuffing up to a day in advance and store it in the fridge. You can also make the candied pecans up to two days in advance and store them at room temperature.
- You can use a pellet grill or electric grill if you don’t have a smoker. If you do this, I recommend using pecan chips but you could also use cherry or hickory.
How to store
The turkey can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave until heated through.
The stuffing will last in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave or warm in the oven.
The pecans will last at room temperature for 2 weeks, in the fridge for 1 month, or in the freezer for 2 months. If frozen, thaw before serving!
Ways to use leftover turkey
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Smoked Turkey with Candied Pecan and Apple Stuffing
- Pellet smoker
For the Quick Candied Pecans:
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 4 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 teas Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
For the Apple Stuffing
- 1 loaf wheat bread cut into ½″ cubes
- 2 tart apples peeled, seeded and chopped
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ white or yellow onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh Parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh Rosemary chopped
- 1 teas fresh Thyme removed from stem
- ½ cup Quick Candied Pecans chopped
- fresh parsley for garnish
For the Smoked Turkey
- 1 12-17 lb turkey giblets removed and patted dry
- 4 – 6 oz Tony Chachere’s Praline Honey Ham Injectable Marinade
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 – 2 tbsp Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning Apple Stuffing
- Candied pralines coarse salt and fresh minced parsley for garnish
Make the Candied Pecans
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Toast the pecans until just fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
- Meanwhile, combine the water, brown sugar andTony’s Original Creole Seasoning in a small bowl.
- Remove the pecans from heat and quickly pour the brown sugar blend over them. Toss to coat.
- Pour out onto a wax paper lined baking sheet to cool.
- The pecans can be prepped 2 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container until ready to use.
Make the Apple Stuffing
- Lay the bread out on two baking sheets in a single layer for 4 to 6 hours, allowing the bread to become stale.
- In the same skillet you used for the pecans, heat the butter for the stuffing over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan.
- Sauté the apple, onion and celery until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary and thyme and cook 30 seconds longer.
- Remove from heat and fold the apple and onion mix into a large bowl with the bread.
- Add the chopped pecans and toss to make sure everything is thoroughly combined and the bread is all coated in butter. Season with a dash of Tony’s Original Creole Seasoning if necessary.
- The stuffing can be prepped a day ahead of time and stored in a the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.
Smoke the Turkey
- Prep your electric smoker on the smoke setting. Use apple pellets if possible. See additional directions for traditional smoking.
- When the smoker setting has warmed up, set the smoker to 200 to 225 degrees.
- Pat the turkey thoroughly dry. Place into an aluminum pan or other rimmed pan.
- Tuck the arms back behind the body and tie the legs together, leaving an opening for the cavity for later.
- Pour the Tony’s Praline Honey Ham Injectable Marinade into a measuring cup and fill the injector.
- Plunge the injector into the turkey, about ½ – 1″ apart each time, pressing the injection into the turkey.
- Place the pan with the turkey in the smoker and smoke for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, carefully remove the turkey. Using a baster, remove and reserve any drippings.
- Stuff the turkey with the prepared Candied Pecan and Apple Stuffing.
- Mix the vegetable oil and seasoning in a bowl and brush a quarter of it over the turkey.
- Cook for an additional 3 hours, or until the turkey safely temps at 165 F, basting every 30 minutes with the remaining oil mix and remove the drippings as needed, being sure to reserve them for later.
- When the turkey has reached an internal temp of 165, carefully remove from the smoker, cover and allow to rest for 25 to 30 minutes before carving.
- Garnish with additional candied pecans and freshly minced parsley.
- Meanwhile, make gravy from the reserved drippings and giblets, if desired.