This smoked turkey recipe makes the most delicious, juicy turkey you’ve ever had!!
With a bunch of hungry growing boys to feed, we love to cook a whole turkey whenever possible. The indirect heat from a smoker gives this turkey a unique flavour profile that you are sure to love!
We’ve shared how we smoke salmon in this vertical smoker and how we love to cook garbage can turkey too. Be sure to check out those posts if you are an avid backyard smoker.
Too busy to make this right away?! Pin it for later! Pin this recipe to your favorite board on Pinterest and it’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready.
Our smoked turkey starts with the most amazing turkey brine recipe that you have ever had – promise! We like to leave our turkey in the brine overnight at the very least.
If we are camping, I have been known to put the brine and entire turkey in a cooler to travel together to our campsite.
If you are starting with a frozen turkey, be sure to defrost it, before preparing the fresh turkey for the smoker. A good rule of thumb for thaw time in cold water is about 30 minutes per pound, with the water refreshed every 30 minutes.
A 20-pound turkey would take about 10 hours to defrost using this method.
How to smoke a turkey:
1. Prepare the turkey in brine overnight.
2. Drain the brine solution from the turkey cavity and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Coat the skin with butter or olive oil, and your personal preference of seasoning. We like to use a chipotle dry rub, but brown sugar and black pepper is good too. Tie the wing tips to the body of the bird if needed.
3. Light the smoker with briquettes and a handful (about 1/2 cup) of wood chips. Keep the briquettes and wood chips stocked and lit throughout the smoking process.
4. Place the whole bird in the lit smoker. We use a DIY turkey stand covered in aluminum foil in this vertical smoker. It’s important to allow the smoke to circulate around the entire bird. Use a baking sheet as a drip pan.
5. Smoke for 8 -12 hours at 225 degrees or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F with a probe thermometer, in the thickest part of the breast.
Remove the bird from the smoker to a platter, place it on a bed of greens with stove top stuffing. Allow the turkey to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Doesn’t this bird look amazingly delicious?! It makes the best crispy skin and juicy turkey breast for thanksgiving dinner.
How long do you smoke a turkey?
When smoking a turkey at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, plan for 30 minutes per pound. A 12 pound turkey would take 6-7 hours while a 20 pound bird would take 10-12 hours.
Check the internal temperature of the bird in the meatiest part of the breast with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit when done.
Tips & tricks:
- Total cook time will depend a lot on the size of the bird. Smaller birds will be done sooner and a larger turkey will take longer. Use that meat thermometer to be 100% sure the meat is cooked properly.
- Maintaining a consistent temperature in the smoker throughout the cooking process is important. An oven thermometer or meat thermometer can help with that.
- Make a delicious turkey gravy from the dippings. You’ll love the subtle smoky flavor!
More of our holiday favorites:
- For Christmas we love to cook our turkey in an oven roaster.
- Do you have leftover turkey? Make these turkey and cranberry sliders – this easy recipe makes the most delicious turkey sliders that you’ve ever had!
- Looking for a low carb alternative to your standard stuffing? Try this delicious keto friendly stove top stuffing recipe!
- My mom always makes the best side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner! Try her classic yams recipe this year.
- This cranberry salsa recipe is a family favorite and makes the perfect appetizer!
This post contains affiliate links.
Kitchen essentials for smoking:
- These rubbermade containers are perfect for storing and packing food.
- These silicone tongs are perfect for flipping and grasping food.
- This Henckel Knife is my favorite for slicing and dicing in the kitchen.
- I love using this non-stick bakeware for all of my cooking.
Have you ever smoked a turkey?! How did it turn out? This is seriously the best smoked turkey we’ve ever had! Be sure to add this tasty recipe to your menu planning.
An important thing to note is that you don’t always need an electric smoker or oven roasting pan to make the best turkey. This Thanksgiving turkey makes the perfect holiday meal without the traditional roaster!
If you love this smoked turkey recipe, please give it a five star review and help me share it on Facebook and Pinterest!
How to Smoke a Turkey
Learn how to smoke a turkey in a vertical smoker. This makes the most delicious, juicy turkey you've ever had!!
- 18-20 pound turkey
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp dry rub
- 1 bag briquettes
- 1 bag wood chips
- Prepare the turkey in brine overnight.
- Drain the brine and pat the turkey dry. Coat the skin with butter and seasoning of choice. We like to use a chipotle dry rub. Tie the wings to the body of the bird if needed.
- Light the smoker with briquettes and a handful (about 1/2 cup) of wood chips. Keep the briquettes and wood chips stocked and lit throughout the smoking process.
- Place the turkey in the lit smoker. We use a DIY turkey stand in this vertical smoker. It's important to allow the smoke to circulate around the entire bird.
- Smoke the turkey for 8 -12 hours at 225 degrees or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees fahrenheit with a probe thermometer.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1785Total Fat: 74gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 46gCholesterol: 1001mgSodium: 1000mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 259g
All values are approximate and based on ingredients used by the recipe writer. Always calculate your own individual nutritional values for the most accurate calculation.