Smoked Turkey is easier to make than you think. All it takes is a great brine or rub and enough time to let the smoker work its magic.
If you don’t own a smoker, I have a simple turkey recipe for you! Plus another one for the turkey necks!
This recipe will teach you everything you need to know about smoking a turkey. Using these step-by-step instructions, you will put to rest the stereotype of a dry bird. The smoker makes turkey oh-so moist and anything but bland.
Smoked Turkey Rub
I love concocting my own rubs. It’s super fun and you can ensure that you get the flavor just right for your tastebuds. For this recipe, I combine paprika, Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
If you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, use any other spice blend that suits your palate. The key is to make sure you rub the turkey generously with whatever rub you decide to use. Apply the spice blend to every portion of the bird you can — under the wings, all over the skin and in every nook and cranny you can reach. Turkey needs the extra spice love to be a knock-out!
Smoked Turkey Brine
Brining your turkey is another option to keep it from drying out. Soaking your turkey in brine allows the leanest parts of the bird to become tender during the smoking process.
If you decide not to do a rub, follow this recipe from one of my fellow bloggers Dinner at the Zoo. She creates a delicious brine of citrus, rosemary and all the usual suspects. For 24-hours you fully submerge your raw turkey in the brine for an amazingly moist and flavorful smoked bird.
Using a Frozen Turkey?
If you’re using a frozen turkey, check out this handy guide on how to thaw it properly.
How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker
Electric smokers are an awesome investment. Set the temperature dial to 225°F and smoke the turkey 30-40 minutes per pound. Before removing the bird from the smoker, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
How Long it Takes to Smoke a Turkey
To prepare a turkey to a perfect readiness, keep the temperature at 225°F, while smoking the turkey for 30-40 minutes per pound. If your turkey is 20lb, you will need to smoke the turkey for 10 to 13 hours. Every smoker works a little different, so the best way to measure the readiness of the turkey is to check that the internal temperature of the turkey is 165°F.
How to Smoke a Turkey
- Defrost a turkey or purchase a fresh one. If you are using a frozen turkey, it may take over 24 hours to defrost it, so plan in advance.
- Use a smoke rub or brine, and let the turkey marinate at lease for 24 hours.
- Place the turkey on a smoker, breast side up. Stuff it with whole onion and apples. During the smoking process, you can apply butter to the top of the turkey breast. This will add more moisture to the smoked turkey.
- You will need to smoke the turkey at 225°F for 30-40 minutes per pound.
- The internal temperature of a fully smoked turkey should read 165°F.
Do I need to brine turkey before smoking?
You don’t need to brine your turkey, but if you do decide to, reference the recipe I linked above from the blog Dinner at the Zoo. Brining can make your turkey super tender, but a dry rub and slow smoke can do the trick also.
What wood is best for smoking turkey?
Hickory or Maple Wood are the best wood chip for smoking turkey. They add a wonderful smokey, fall flavor to your holiday bird.
At what temperature should I smoke a turkey?
The turkey should be smoked at 225°F for 30-40 minutes per pound. If you crank up the heat any more, you risk drying your bird out and overcooking the flesh.
Can you brine a frozen turkey?
Love killing two birds with one stone? You can brine your frozen turkey and defrost it at the same time. Allot two days for the entire process and be sure to rinse off any excess brine before baking so you don’t end up with too salty a bird or gravy.
Serve Smoked Turkey With Following
- Mashed Potatoes – Creamy and decadent, these mashed potatoes are the definition of comfort food.
- Pickled Vegetable Salad – Nothing pairs better with meat than crunchy and vinegary veggies.
- Veggie Side Dish – Simple, colorful and healthy. Every dinner table needs a health veggie dish.
- 5 Minute Gravy Recipe – There’s only one thing to do with all those pan drippings — gravy!
- 1 Turkey
- 2 tbsp Paprika
- 3 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Black Pepper
- 3 tbsp 21 Seasoning Salute or similar
- 2 tbsp Garlic Seasoning use any choice
- 2 Apples
- 1 Onion
- To prepare a smoked turkey, combine salt, pepper, paprika, 21 Seasoning Salute and garlic seasoning.
- Rub turkey generously with spices. Apply spices under wings, skin and every other area you can get into.
- Place the turkey in a smoker with the breast facing up. Stuff the turkey with whole onion and whole apples. This will add great flavors to the turkey.
- The smoke time will depend on the size of the turkey. You should plan for 30-40 minutes of smoke time per pound. The turkey is ready once the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165°F.
Hi Natalya what kind of wood/pallets do you used on your smoker..thanks
Hi Eddie, Hickory or Maple Wood are the best wood chip for smoking turkey. They add a wonderful smokey and fall flavor.
Do you put the turkey inside a bag when you put it in the fridge for marinating?
Hey Vika, you can use a bag or a large container to hold the turkey.
We tried your Rub for our turkey on smoker and it turned out so juicy and yummy everyone was pleased thank you for sharing!:) Have you tried smoking a chicken. Do you think this Turkey Rub will work well with a chicken too?
Hey Vika, yes, it will be delicious! Might as well make two because they will be gone quick. 🙂
If we plan to bring this to someone house how would you reheat it if made day ahead??
Hey Viktoriya, I would shorten the smoking time and do 30 minutes to an hour in an oven right before serving.
Thanks for the recipe. Do I place the turkey directly on the grates or place it in a pan?
Hi Steve, I always placed mine on the grates. But I don't think you can go wrong with placing it in a pan.
Snoked turkey is so delicious! The brine really adds to the flavor and keeps the bird so moist and juicy!
Yes smoked turkey is the perfect twist to a classic roasted turkey, and it remains so juicy and so full of flavor.
This turkey rub sounds tasty!! I am all about making our Thanksgiving turkey as good as I can get it!
It's a super simple, yet flavorful rub. I hope you love this recipe!
This was so helpful! I can't wait to make this now! My family is going to love it!
I hope you love it Beth; smoking gives so much flavor to a turkey!
Made this for thanksgiving was very delicious thank u!
I am glad you loved it! I am hoping to share more recipes using a smoker.
Thank you for this! So timely!
🙂 I hope you love the recipe!
Would you recommend a rub or a brine for a more flavorful, juicy turkey?
I tried both, I feel like rub is much easier. Brine is also great because flavors absorbs flavors faster. It's hard to pick. If you have a brine you really like, you can use it.
Do you end up using wood chips and smoking the turkey for the entire time?
Hey Katerina, yes, I use wood chips or pellets the whole time. My current smoker uses pellets, so that's what I use. Back in the day we had a smoker that used wood chips.
OK. Thanks! My husband just thought it would end up being too smoky of a flavor if you use chips throughout the entire cook time so I wanted to make sure that's what you did.
Chips burn out at some point so they stop smoking.