Recipe: Jerk Smoked Turkey

Jerk turkey recipe for thanksgiving

Caribbean-Americans jerk their turkey for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Most Caribbean-Americans in Florida has adapted to the traditional American celebration of Thanksgiving that occurs on the last Thursday of November annually. What they have discovered as they join their American neighbors in celebrating Thanksgiving is that not having a turkey for the customary Thanksgiving dinner is like having Christmas dinner in the Caribbean without roast chicken and/or baked ham.

However, Caribbean Americans prefer having a Caribbean touch at their Thanksgiving dinner. In order to create this touch Jimmie Jackson, the 2013 winner of the Publix Cook-off at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, provided this recipe for Jerk Smoked Turkey.

Jimmie says he uses a brine for the jerk smoked turkey ( He says this is optional but it does make turkey tastier). The turkey gets some of its savory and rich flavors from this brine. He, however, cautions the cooks to be easy on the salt because they will be required to add JJC jerk rub on the big bird.

Ingredients for the jerk smoked turkey:

  • 1 Dressed Turkey (approx 12 t0 30 lbs)
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or water( but less flavor)
  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup kosher or coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp all spice berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 dried bunch of fresh thyme
  • 5 oz JJC  hot dry jerk rub

Preparation: in a large pot combine vegetable stock, sugar, salt, allspice berries, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer over medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes until all sugar and salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow it to cool down. Add cold water to mixture. Place turkey in plastic container or Plastic trash bag and place in a bucket. Once you brine your turkey over night or up to 32 hours remove turkey for brine and place on a pan and allow it to rest. Pour all excess liquid away and pat turkey dry with paper towels. Next rub your turkey completely with JJC hot jerk rub and now the cook is ready to smoke or roast the turkey..

Jimmie says Turkeys can be unpredictable but there are some important factors determining cooking time. These factors include: the thickness of the breast, how well the bird is defrosted and how long it was left at room temperature.

Below is a rough guide for how long it will take to get the temperature in the deepest part of the breast to 160* and the thigh to 170* ( Please have a good thermometer!!! Make sure it’s calibrated). Please note that the turkey can also be roasted if the cook doesn’t have a good smoker.

Pounds Hours  at 325*
12 to 14 2 to 2.5
14 to 18 2.5 to3
18 to 24 3 to3.5
24 to 30 3.5 to 4



  1. Perhaps a minor detail but where is Quantity of SUGAR mentioned?
    Looking forward to this recipe as it appears to be from islanders, not the latch-ons from the mainland… (smile)


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