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How To Smoke A Turkey

One of the benefits of smoking a turkey is that it's almost impossible to overcook anything in a smoker. The temperature remains low and the cooking is slow, resulting in perfectly moist and tender meat with a rich, complex flavor. Still need a recipe? Head on over to our collection of smoked turkey recipes to get started.

Turkey in a Smoker

Photo by MikeH

Here are some of our favorites:

Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey | Photo by BIG BOY

Smoked Turkey Tools

Besides a smoker, there are a few other things you'll need to smoke your turkey:

  • A large pan
  • An accurate meat thermometer
  • Wood chips--any kind of fruit wood, such as apple or cherry, complements turkey very well, but hickory, pecan, and maple will be equally good

If you're smoking a whole bird, we recommended that you choose one weighing no more than about 15 pounds--large turkeys take too long to heat all the way through.

If you choose a frozen turkey, it should be thoroughly thawed before you begin.

Be sure to remove all the giblets and gizzards from the turkey, as well as the plastic pop-up thermometer.

Prepping

To add even more flavor to your turkey:

  • Try brining: while not an essential part of smoking a turkey, soaking in brine before cooking gives the meat maximum flavor and juiciness.
  • Rub bird with oil or butter for crispy and evenly browned skin.
  • Apply a dry rub just before smoking. (If you have brined the turkey, you should not use any salt in the dry rub).

Unfortunately, you can't stuff a smoked turkey. Make your stuffing separately in the oven.

Smoking Your Turkey

Once you have prepped your turkey, you are ready to begin smoking:

  • Place turkey in the pan, breast-side up.
  • Insert the meat thermometer deep into the thigh, being careful not to touch the bone or joints.
  • Run your smoker at 240 degrees F (115 degrees C).
  • Allow 30 minutes of cooking time per pound of meat.
  • Baste the turkey with its own juices a few times during smoking, but avoid opening the smoker too often; you will lose heat and increase the cooking time.

When the thermometer reads 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) , pull the bird out of the smoker and let it rest at least 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

VIDEO: How to Smoke a Turkey

Looking for other alternative methods? Read up on how to grill turkey, and how to deep fry a turkey.


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