Smoking a turkey for your next holiday dinner is easier than you think! With my step-by-step video tutorial, I’ll teach you how to smoke a turkey and give you tips and tricks to make it the best Thanksgiving turkey ever! If you’ve never had a smoked turkey, you’re missing out! It takes just a few hours more than a traditional, oven-roasted turkey and tastes so delicious! A smoked turkey is not only super flavorful but also juicy and aromatic! Try it this holiday season!
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How to Smoke a Turkey
Before you head outside and get your smoker started, it’s important to prepare your turkey and get it seasoned. For my Thanksgiving turkey, I first brined it using my ‘Apple Cider Turkey Brine’. Brining a turkey makes it extra juicy and more flavorful. Once it was done brining, I patted the turkey dry with paper towels, then stuffed and seasoned it following my ‘Garlic Butter Turkey Recipe’. The garlic and herb butter spread is so delicious! Have the turkey dressed and ready to go in a roasting pan before getting the smoker ready. I also recommend covering the drumstick ends with foil to prevent them from burning. Fill the pan with 2 cups of water to add more moisture.
Once your turkey is ready for the smoker, it’s time to head outside! Because the smoking process is long, I recommend cleaning your smoker from any ashes from a previous smoke to prevent a fire. Fill the hopper full of chips or wood pellets and preheat the smoker for about 15 minute to 225F. Remove any additional racks from the smoker so that your turkey can fit comfortably inside. Place the turkey into the center and close the lid. Do not open the smoker unless you need to baste or cover with foil. Everytime you open the smoker, you release all the hot air and it will take about 8 to 10 minutes to heat back up.
The cooking times for smoking a turkey will all depend on the size of your bird. The larger the turkey, the longer it will take to smoke! There are two different methods of smoking a turkey:
Traditional Method: for a traditional smoked turkey, keep your smoker set at 225F for the entire duration of the smoke. This method takes about 30 minutes per pound, so a 12 pound turkey will take approximately 6 to 6 1/2 hours. A larger bird at 15 pounds will take 7 1/2 hours. I recommend using this method with turkeys 15 pounds and under. When the turkey is too big, it takes too long and you risk food poisoning because the turkey cannot smoke/cook fast enough at this temperature.
Quick Method: I like to use this ‘quick method’ for smoking larger turkeys over 15 pounds. Smoke the turkey at 225F for the first 2 hours, then turn up the heat on the smoker to 350F. Tent the turkey with foil and continue to smoke for an additional 3 1/2 to 4 hours, depending on the size. Extra large turkeys may take up to 5 hours.
Tip #1: It’s important that the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165F at its thickest part. Insert the meat thermometer deep between the drumstick and the thigh to get the most accurate reading.
Tip#2: Make sure to tent your turkey to prevent it from burning! Lightly cover the turkey with foil after 2 to 3 hours in the smoker.
Tip #3: Baste the turkey only once every hour, starting after the 3rd hour once the juices start to run. Avoid opening the smoker too often, as this will increase smoking time!
Tip #4: Allow the turkey to rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving! This will help keep the turkey extra juicy and flavorful.
Tip #5: Use my ‘Turkey Carving Tutorial’ and learn how to carve your turkey like a pro to make it look pretty on the serving platter!
Here are the recipes I used for my turkey and a few more to try for your Thanksgiving!
- Garlic Butter Turkey Recipe – the one and only recipe you’ll ever need! Super juicy and flavorful turkey every time!
- Apple Cider Turkey Brine – it’s super easy to brine your turkey and it makes the bird extra juicy!
- Ukrainian Potato Salad ‘Olivier Salad’ – my all-time favorite holiday salad! This Ukrainian version of potato salad is so delicious!
- Classic Pecan Pie – my all-time favorite Thanksgiving pie, made without any corn syrup!
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