Smoking Guide: Smoking A Turkey In Electric Smoker [October 2020]

Smoked turkey is a certified crowd pleaser. It’s a great centrepiece, it tastes great and best of all it’s surprisingly easy to create.

With its luscious meaty flavour, enriched texture and when paired with a spicy seasoning, it is hard to resist.

This recipe is guaranteed to give you legendary status at your next family gathering!!

When smoking a turkey, an expensive grill with all the bells and whistles is not going to help you.

The best thing to do is to get your hands on one of the best electric smokers. Any electric smoker will do to nail our two favorite methods for smoking a turkey.

To ensure you don’t struggle to carve your turkey I highly recommend you get yourself a knife for carving the turkey, this will save your pride, bird and fingers!

Carving A Small Turkey

Got Leftovers?
Try these turkey enchilada stuffed bell peppers. It’s the perfect way to use up that declious smoked turkey (if there is any left!)

Smoked Turkey Benefits

If you follow the smoked turkey recipe below you will know how delicious this recipe is, however, this smoked turkey recipe doesn’t only taste good, it has lots of health benefits over other meats and cooking methods too:

Make sure you are in no rush, smoking a turkey in electric smoker takes time. Be well organised and wait out the whole process. Your end result will be well worth the wait.

Close Up Small Turkey Carving

The Bare Bones Smoked Turkey Recipe

  1. Thaw Your Turkey: The first thing that you need to do is to make sure your turkey is well defrosted. Never start to cook meat when any parts are still party frozen.

  2. Clean Your Turkey: After the turkey is defrosted, make sure you clean your turkey. Start by removing the neck, gizzard, and the insides. Once the insides have been removed, give the inside a good rinse.

    Tip: Save the neck and gizzard for an amazing soup later on!
  3. Brine Your Turkey: Before starting to smoke this masterpiece you need to brine it, This will enhance the bird’s moisture absorption, break down the muscles and tenderize the meat. For a simple brine, submerge the bird in a mixture of water and kosher salt. If you need to weigh the bird down to keep it submerged.

  4. Rinse and Dry Your Turkey: Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it with cold water, making sure to not forget the cavity. Once well rinsed let dry for 12 – 24 hours. This makes sure the flavors of the brine are evenly dispersed throughout the meat.

  5. Season Your Turkey: Season the whole turkey with your favorite spice mix. Make sure you use a dry rub for the inside of the cavity and a wet rub on the outside.

  6. Smoke Your Turkey: The time you have been waiting for! Smoking time! Preheat your electric smoker to 225°F and once at temperature oil the grade to stop the bird from sticking. You are now ready to add your bird! Put a temperature probe in the breast and let it smoke until the breast reaches 165°F.

The best woods for smoking in an electric smoker are cedar, alder, cherry, maple, plum, and hickory. Depending on what meat you are smoking of course.

Charlies Tips For Smoking Turkey Using an Electric Smoker

Using an Electric Smoker

As you can tell by the recipe, smoking a turkey is not a fast process. Some people get too excited and put the turkey in their electric smoker too early. Wait until your smoker has had a chance to come to temperature and your wood chips and have a chance to start turning to ash. 

You can tell when the turkey is ready to go in when the wood chips start producing a thin blue smoke. Make sure you thoroughly clean your drip pans before and after each cook, the last thing you want is a flare up! 

Using A Proper Knife

Not having the correct tools is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you check out my guide on the carving knifes, to ensure you do justice to your delicious bird!

Pick The Right Smoke

Different meats absorb smoke differently. Turkey will absorb smoke faster than red meat so it’s very important that you use a very mild wood chip, this will stop the turkey from being overpowered by smoke. 

Spatchcock The Turkey

Spatchcocking your turkey is a way to help the turkey absorb more smoke and cook more evenly. This is because once the turkey is spatchcocked it has more surface area and is more uniform. The bird will also cook much faster because it is flatter.

Spatchcocking is a fairly simple process, all you need to do is remove the spine of the bird so it can lay flat, this is great for those of you who have a smaller smoker or fridge space.

Soaking Wood Chips or Dry Wood Chips

There is great debate over what is better to smoke with wet wood chips or dry wood chips. In your electric smoker, you can use both. As a general rule of thumb use soaked wood chips if you are smoking low and slow. 

If you are smoking low and slow be sure to soak your wood chips for at least 30 minutes. Soaked wood chips release a less intense smoke and burn far slower than dry wood chips. Whereas dry wood chips burn much faster with a more intense heat.

Thanksgiving Turkey

How Long to Smoke A Turkey

Like most meats, there is no set time you should smoke a turkey for. There are a few factors that come into play.

• The size and shape of your turkey

• The temperature of your electric smoker

• How often the smoker is opened once the bird is in

As a general rule of thumb, you want to cook the turkey for around 30 minutes per pound at 230°F.

Turkey in An Electric Smoker
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Smoking A Turkey In A Electric Smoker

This one of the best-smoked turkey recipes I know of. The turkey will come out with subtle but complex flavours your guests will have a hard time putting their fingers on. The mahogany skin will get their mouths watering. This one has proven to be a winner time and time again.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Brining Time12 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 800kcal
Author: Charlie


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 1 pound of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of kosher salt
  • 2 quarts of apple juice
  • 3 quarts of cold water
  • 3 oranges cleaned and quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger thinly sliced (skin on)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and crushed (the bigger the better)
  • 15 whole cloves


  • Add the apple juice, brown sugar, and salt into a large saucepan. Over a high heat bring to the boil and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved boil for 1 minute further and remove from heat. Let the mix cool to room temperature and refrigerate until 40°F.
  • In a very large non-corrosive container, add the remaining ingredients together with the apple juice mixture. Place the turkey into the brine breast side down. If you need to weigh down the turkey with a weight to keep it fully submerged. Set aside in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours (for best results leave for 24 hours).
  • After 24 hours remove the turkey from the brine. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels and set on a rack with baking paper below and set in the fridge to air dry overnight. This step is not essential but will give you a nice crispy skin.
  • Remove the turkey from the fridge. Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the body. Set aside and let rise to room temperature. Now you can start to prepare your smoker.
  • Fire up your electric smoker and get it to 350°F. Once it starts to produce smoke, turn it down to 230°F and get your turkey in there!
  • You need to smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F in the thickest park if the breast. You can use the rule of thumb that your turkey will take around 30 minutes per pound at 230°F (always allow a little bit of extra time just incase)
  • Once the turkey is cooked remove from the electric smoker and rest for 20 – 30 minutes uncovered.
  • Carve and serve!

Final Thoughts

This golden spicy turkey skin is definitely a worthy piece for any festive event, Saturday afternoon barbecues included.

Electric smokers are an easy and very tasty way to cook your turkey to perfection. All the hard work is done in the prep, and let’s be real it’s really too difficult.

Once the turkey has been brined simply plug it in, set the timer, and let it cook until beautiful and smoky.

Whats your favourite turkey rub?

Happy smoking!


Hungry For More?

10 thoughts on “Smoking Guide: Smoking A Turkey In Electric Smoker [October 2020]”

  1. Charlie quick question after you take the turkey out of the brine rinse it and put it in the fridge would you save the orange wedges and ginger that you brined them in and put them and the into the turkey and smoke them in it or would it be to fruity or salty??🤔 Thank You

    1. Hiya Jenny,

      I have never tried that before but I think its a wonderful idea!! I would be careful of the salt carrying to much, but I would love to hear how it goes, because I want to try it!

  2. Hello Charlie, I was curious about the temperature set 350° in step 5 of the instructions. In the above ” how long to smoke a turkey” you had mentioned 30 mins per pound at 230°. My question is this temperature of 350° just to get the smoker ready for the bird and then to smoke the Turkey at 230° until the bird is finished?
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Hiya Judy,

      I had too include your soup it’s so delicious!!!!! I am surprising the family and trying something a little different and doing your grilled strawberry semifreddo for Thanksgiving!! What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?


      Charlie 🙂

  3. Hi Charlie,
    In step 2 of your recipe it says to use a “corrosive” container. I’m guessing you meant “non-corrosive”. This is a mistake some people could make that would not turn out well with all the acid in the recipe. Also, I always use apple chunks for my wood when using my electric smoker. Apple is my all time favorite.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Hiya Greg,

      Thanks heaps for the heads up!! I definitely wouldn’t want anyone mixing those two up!!! Yesssss apple is awesome in the electric smoker especially with Turkey!! Did you do that for Thanksgiving?


  4. Paul Rubeans

    5 stars
    Hi Charles! I just picked up my new masterbuilt smoker!! I am stoked to do my first cook on it, I am thinking of doing this smoked turkey recipe first, do you think I need to season the smoker first or is it good to go straight out of the box??

    1. Hey Paul!! 100% I would season it!! It really helps prepares it for cooking, it burned off any residues left over from the manufacturing process, stuff like machine dust and oils! I would just start it up set the temp to on your Masterbuilt to 275 degrees and set it for two hours, I would then let it cool then you are ready to smoke your turkey mate!! Let me know how you go!

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