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!

Turkey in a serving tray, ready to be served.

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. 

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.

Smoked turkey on a serving dish with garish around it

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.
Smoked turkey on a serving dish with garish around it

FAQ

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!

About Author

Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.