The Best Smoked Turkey (Any Grill or Smoker!)

The Best Smoked Turkey (Any Grill or Smoker!)

Mix up your Thanksgiving Dinner Recipe this year by serving a smoked turkey recipe. This smoked turkey is coated in a homemade BBQ Rub and smoked low and slow, to create a perfectly seasoned crust to compliment the juicy interior.

Smoke a turkey and leave your oven open for all the other Thanksgiving recipes you have on tap this year! Other turkey recipes to check out: Smoked Turkey Legs and Instant Pot Turkey. Or switch is up and make smoked beef tenderloin or smoked prime rib.

How To Smoke A Turkey

Smoking a whole turkey is easy when using the best smoked turkey recipe! This turkey recipe can be made on any grill. Smoking a turkey on an electric smoker works great, as does as gas grill, electric smoker or manual smoker. We provide instructions for all methods. Just make sure you have the supplies called out below.

  • Gas Grill – depending on the brand, a good setting to test out is turning half the burners (on the same side of the grill) to medium-low while the other burners are off. You’ll create smoke by using a smoker box to add chips/chunks
  • Charcoal – Pre-heat the coals until just washed over. Dump them on the far side (either left or right) of your grill and open the vents to 25%. Create smoke by placing wood chunks directly on the pre-heated coals.
  • Pellet/Electric Smoker – Pre-heat your grill to 225 degrees F. Follow the manufacture’s instructions to get an even smoke.

Close up of an uncooked whole turkey on a rotisserie rod. Butchers twine and seasonings in a white bowl and next to the turkey.

Grilled Turkey Temperature

The goal is to keep the ambient temperature as close to 225 degrees F as possible. If you’re opting to use a manual smoker or gas grill, aim to keep it between 225 – 250 degrees F. No matter what method you use, make sure the smoke coming off the grill is thin and has a light blue tint.

Turkey Smoking Recipe Supplies:

  • Turkey – The turkey should be 100% defrosted and weight under 15 pounds.
  • Energy Source – The turkey will be on the grill for hours so make sure you stock up on your selected energy source: charcoal, pellets, propane, gas, etc.
  • Smoking Wood –  Chunks, chips or pellets.
  • Disposable Drip Pan –  A big bird = extra drippings. Using a drip pan to catch the juices is highly recommended. Plus you can use it for gravy.
  • Thermometer – Always use a thermometer. Always. Our go-to digital thermometer is the Thermaworks Dot. It never fails.
  • Water Bottle – Use it to spritz the turkey while cooking. We use inexpensive spray bottles from Amazon.
  • Smoker Box – You’ll need one to impart the smoke flavor if using a gas grill. We’ve used this one from Amazon in the past.

What Is the Best Smoker For Smoking Turkey?

As mentioned above, they all work great. Each has its own benefits. Just remember the most important thing is to create indirect heat and maintain the temperature.

  • Electric Smoker – Perfect for beginning smokers. It’s easy to maintain the temperature over long periods and is easy to add extra wood when required.
  • Pellet Smoker (Smoking A Turkey Traeger Style) – Any brand will work. Pellet smokers are awesome for painting smoke and temperature without much effort, which is very helpful come turkey day!
  • Gas Grill – The upside of a gas grill is consistent temp. The downside? Make sure you have enough propane to last upwards of 6-7 hours.
  • Charcoal Grill – Quite a bit more “manual” labor going on when you use a charcoal grill. You’ll have to see your eyes on the temp and add more charcoal or wood as needed. This is the method we prefer, simply because we enjoy managing the grill. It’s not the easiest, but it’s pretty fun. Just make sure you have enough charcoal and wood to last upwards of 6-7 hours.

How Long To Smoke A Turkey?

A great guideline is 30 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F. A 10 pound turkey should take about five hours. If you’re smoking it at 250 degrees F, it will take about 25 minutes per pound.

This recipe maxes out the bird size as 15 pounds because it will take way too long to get out of the food safety danger zone (40-140 degrees F). At that point bacteria can set in and spoil the turkey. Shoot for the turkey finishing about 30 minutes prior to when you want to serve it. You’d rather have it done a bit early, and cover with foil then have the other food waiting for the turkey to be done.

Close up of an uncooked whole turkey, coated in seasonings, on a rotisserie rod.

What Do You Stuff A Turkey With?

We don’t stuff anything in the big beast. We don’t notice the VERY slight flavor it may impart after smoking. If you must, feel free to add some aromatics like rosemary and thyme or even garlic and onions. Just don’t stuff it full as you need space for the air to circulate. Feel free to brine it prior if that’s your thing (we use this turkey brine recipe).  Don’t try and make stuffing in the cavity and it won’t be finished cooking when the turkey is ready to be pulled.

What Type Of Wood Is Best For Smoking Turkey?

What’s the Best Wood To Smoke Turkey? Depends what you’re going for. Cherry wood and apple wood are great options. We enjoy Pecan when smoking poultry, but maple imparts a great sweet flavor as well. If you prefer a stronger smoke flavor for your Thanksgiving Smoked Turkey, opt for hickory.

Whole Smoked Turkey Temperature

The thickest part of the leg should register 165 degrees F on a digital thermometer. Take the temp on both sides of the birds (unless you’re using a rotisserie). You’ll use the lowest temperature as the temperature. We typically start measuring the temp about an hour before it’s suppose to be done, to avoid overcooking. Each bird has a unique shape and size so this helps overcome these oddities.

What Do You Baste A Turkey With?

We make a batch of our Instant Pot Bone Broth and spritz the bird every hour or so. You can use store bought turkey or chicken broth if you don’t want to make a homemade broth. Skip basting if you brined the turkey. Make sure to order a cheap water bottle if you don’t have one on hand for basting.

How Much Turkey Per Person?

Calculate about 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. Why so much? Much of that weight it bones, etc. that isn’t edible.

Turkey Drippings

Turkey drippings are the BEST addition to turkey gravy or au jus. Just make sure to fill the dripping pan with a few cups of water as it cooks. You’ll have to re-fill it every time the water starts to get low.

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Butternut Squash
Buttery Herbed Smashed Potatoes
Roasted Mushrooms in Garlic Butter
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
Air Fryer Baby Potatoes
Air Fryer Mushrooms
Instant Pot Mushrooms

Have fun making this Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Close up of a cooked smoked turkey on a striped cutting board. A knife and large fork are next to the bird.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

The Best Smoked Turkey

Mix it up this holiday season by serving a smoked turkey. This juicy smoked turkey is coated in garlic and herbs, and smoked low and slow, to create a perfectly seasoned crisp crust to compliment the buttery interior.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Christmas Dinner, Holiday Dinner, Smoked Meat, Smoked Recipes, Thanksgiving Dinner, Turkey Recipe
Servings: 12 People
Calories: 407kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $35

Ingredients

  • 1 10-15 Lb Whole Turkey, Giblets and Neck Removed (*Note 1)
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil (*Note 2)
  • 1 Batch BBQ Rub (*Note 3)

OPTIONAL:

Instructions

Prep The Turkey:

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. If you brined the bird, rinse off the brine with cold water prior to patting dry. Stuff the turkey, if desired, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  • Coat the turkey with olive oil and then generously coat with the BBQ Rub.

Prep The Smoker (Pellet or Electric):

  • Pre-heat the smoker to 225 degrees F and set up for indirect heat. Load the smoker with your wood of choice and a drip pan full of water.

Prep The Grill (Gas or Charcoal):

  • Pre-heat the grill to 225 degrees F and set up for indirect heat. Aim to keep the temperature between 225 - 250 degrees F.
    Gas Grill- turn half the burners (on the same side of the grill) to medium-low while the other burners are off. Use a smoker box to add chips/chunks of wood to create a thin blue smoke.
    Charcoal - Pre-heat the coals until just ashed over. Dump them on the far side (either left or right) of your grill and open the vents to 25%. Create smoke by placing wood chunks directly on the pre-heated coals. 

Smoke The Turkey: Directly on The Grill/Smoker

  • Transfer the turkey to a pre-heated grill.
  • Cook for 30 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F, spritzing with the broth every 45-60 minutes. When spritzing, check the drip pan to see if more water needs to be added. Replenish the wood chips/pellets/charcoal, as needed, to maintain the temperature.
  • Smoke until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F. Check the temperature on both legs and use the lower of the two temperature readings. Cover the turkey with foil, if the skin starts getting overly dark.
  • Remove the turkey to a large cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. If not serving right away, cover with foil and wrap with towels to keep in the heat until you're ready to serve.
  • Remove the twine before carving and serving.

Notes

Note 1 - Reserve the giblets and neck to make turkey gravy.
Note 2 - You can use butter, but oil creates a crispier skin.
Note 3 - Replace with any homemade or store bought spice mix you like.
Note 4 - If you don't want to make homemade broth, we get it!! Snag some store bought turkey or chicken broth instead.
Note 5 - The nutrition facts stated, do not include any bone broth you may spritz on the bird. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Slice | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 193mg | Sodium: 357mg | Potassium: 601mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 150IU | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
Recipe Rating




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