How To Smoke Turkey

How To Smoke Turkey

A special occasion (especially Thanksgiving) can be incomplete without a smoked turkey. Now since the turkey is a large bird, it is impractical and difficult to smoke an entire turkey on a grill. For the same reason, we recommend you do it on a smoker.

Although we agree that smoking is more time consuming and a slower process, at the same time there is nothing better tasting than a juicy and tender turkey smoked at home. In addition to that, it will also be a pleasant change of flavours from the regular roasted turkey.

So instead of fretting about how to go about the process, you can go through this blog to understand the ins and outs of smoking turkey. We have given a step by step guide on how to smoke a turkey to perfection. Have a look!

How Do You Smoke Turkey?

To begin with the process, the first step that is of paramount importance is to prep the turkey.

We suggest you go for a small or a medium-sized turkey preferably in the range of 10-12 pounds. If you use a very large turkey, it might not get cooked evenly in addition to having food safety issues.

You can use a fresh turkey or a frozen turkey that has been properly thawed. But do keep in mind that within 4 hours of being in the smoker, a turkey should have an internal average temperature of 40-140 degrees F. If not, your turkey will get spoiled before it even starts cooking.

Note: For additional flavours, you can stuff the cavity with aromatics and glaze it with barbeque sauce. For even better flavours, you can also brine the turkey before starting to smoke it.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Turkey?

As already stated, smoking a turkey is a long and laborious process. You can start in the morning early if you want to serve it by dinnertime.

Usually, it takes an average of 6 hours for the turkey to get done, which is smoked at an average temperature of 150 degrees F. Keep in mind that you will have to spare 30 minutes per round to cook your turkey.

What Type of Wood is Considered best for Smoking Turkey?

Any fruit hardwood is suitable to smoke the turkey. The best-recommended option is maple wood that imparts a sweet and fruity smell and a subtle taste to the meat. It is also easily available in the markets. If not, you could also use hickory or cherry wood.

Also read: Our Complete Meat Smoking Guide.

When is a Smoked Turkey Done and Ready to Serve?

You will need a thermostat to poke the turkey and check if it is done or not. To check if a turkey is properly done, you can insert a thermostat in the thickest part of the thigh and the temperature should read around 150 degrees F. You can also use a digital thermometer and leave it in there with the turkey so it can keep recording the progress alongside.

Do You Need to Baste the Turkey?

You can baste the turkey to make it juicy, tender and to have more moisture. If you have already brined your turkey then you can ignore this process. You can baste the turkey with chicken broth for best results.

How Many Servings Do You Get to Serve per Turkey?

The size of the turkey can help you estimate the serving per person which is generally one pound per person. But if you want a lot of leftover turkey, then you can go with a serving limit of 11/2 pound per person.

Smoked Turkey Recipe

The recipe shared below is a smoked turkey reside that was coated and rubbed with homemade spices and stuffed with aromatic herbs. You can have a look at the ingredients and recipe below.

  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 15 min
  • Servings: 12

Ingredients (For Turkey)

Sr. No. Ingredients Quantity
1 Whole Turkey 1 turkey of 12 to 14 pounds (neck and giblets removed)
2 Peanut Oil ¼ cup
3 Kosher Salt 3 tablespoons
4 Granulated Garlic 2 teaspoons
5 Granulated Onion 1 teaspoon

Ingredients (For Aromatics)

Sr. No. Ingredients Quantity
1 Yellow Onions 2 (Halved and skin removed)
2 Fresh Apples 3 (Skin removed, cut into wedges)
3 Garlic Cloves 3 (Papery skin removed but left in the peel)


  1. Properly wash the turkey, pat it dry, set it on the roasting rack or plate breast side up. Leave it uncovered and put it in the refrigerator to rest or dry for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Before beginning the process of smoking, light your smoker and let it reach a temperature of 250 degrees F. You can use apple wood chips and let the smoke start coming for 30 minutes before you finally allow your turkey to set in there.
  3. Take out your turkey from the fridge, and stuff it with onions, apples and garlic cloves.
  4. Drizzle peanut oil over the turkey and rub the kosher salt, granulated garlic and granulated onions.
  5. Put the turkey in your smoker and smoke for 30 to 40 minutes per round. Keep a track of the temperature (you could use digital or any other) by putting it in the thickest part of the thigh. It should at least read 160 degrees F
  6. Once done, use a pair of tongs or oven mitts to transfer the turkey to a separate clean pan. Tent this up with aluminum foil and let it rest for the juices to settle down and distribute evenly.
  7. Your turkey is now ready to be opened up, sliced and served.

Try out this easy recipe to smoke your turkey and we promise you will not be disappointed with the results. Come back to tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Author: Thomas Shah

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