Smoked Turkey

Patience Low and slow is the real secret to that great smoked turkey recipe. We're talking about holding the temperature around 250°F/121°C for an extended cooking period. You should figure about 30 minutes per pound (.45kg).

Smoked Turkey

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  • Spices Use a rub to infuse your bird with wonderful flavors. Not mandatory (as we believe the smoke is the magic), however spices can significantly enhance the results of slow roasting a turkey. You can put together your own with any combination of these basic fresh ingredients:

  • Salt (Kosher preferred)

  • Paprika (Hungarian much preferred for best flavor)

  • Pepper, black (fresh ground!)

  • Chili powder

  • Garlic, granulate or powder

  • Onion powder

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Basil

  • Poultry seasoning

  • Remove the thoroughly thawed turkey from the refrigerator and remove the giblets, neck, and any thing else thrown in the cavity. Clean and rinse the bird thoroughly, especially the cavity. Pat dry with paper towels.

  • Remove the pop-up timer! They are virtually worthless.

  • If you use a rub, apply generously under the skin and in the cavity. To get under the skin, simply start with the loose skin at the butt of the bird, slide our hand up the breast. Loosen the skin over the meatiest parts, and use your fingers to move down to the legs, parting the skin from the top and sides. Put a generous amount of the rub under the skin, and a modest dusting on the outside of the bird.

  • For the maximum effect we like to do this at least a couple of hours, and preferably 1-3 days, before cooking. Our smoked turkey recipe doesn't require a rub, but it is fun! Remember to keep the turkey in the refrigerator until you are ready to put it on the fire.

  • Do not stuff the bird! No smoked turkey recipe should ever include stuffing the bird. It takes too long for the stuffing to reach the 165°F/74°C required for safe cooking. The bird stays too long in the "Danger Zone" of 40-140°F/4.4-60°C (bacteria heaven!).


For gas or electric smokers, place the chips/chunks (pre-soaked in water for 30+ minutes) in the wood chip box/pan. One full box of chips, or 3-4 cups for pan type, will last for several hours, and will be sufficient for the whole cooking time. Fire-up the cooker and get the temperature to about 250-300°F/121-149°C, and prepare to keep the temperature as steady as you can! For this smoked turkey recipe, maintain the temperature between 235-250°F/113-121°C for the ideal smoked turkey. When the temperature (inside the smoker at the grill) has reached 250-300°F/121-149°C... Place turkey(s) in the smoker, directly on the rack, or on a large baking sheet. We do not advise putting the bird in a roasting pan as this has a tendency to steam the turkey. Place a pan on a rack, under the bird, to catch the juices for gravy! Add a cup or two of water, if you wish. Resist peeking! You're losing precious heat and smoke. Open the lid/door only far enough to add charcoal, and don't tarry! You have time! If you have judiciously maintained the cooking temperature, you can leave your station several times before the bird(s) are done. For our smoked turkey recipe, think 20-30 minutes a pound to completion. Using your instant read probe-type thermometer, check the turkey at the inner thigh, looking for 165°F/74°C and check the breast for a temperature of 170°F/77°C. Ensure the thermometer does not touch a bone. When done, remove turkey to a pan/platter to "rest" for 15-20 minutes before carving. This is an important step to ensure the juices return to the meat. Cover with aluminum foil to assist in holding the heat.


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