How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

Smoked turkey is a certified crowd-pleaser and a great centerpiece for a Thanksgiving feast or family get-together. It tastes great, and it’s easy to create. With its smoky flavor and rich texture, turkey is hard to resist. This recipe will give you legendary status at your next family gathering!!

When smoking a turkey, an expensive grill with all the bells and whistles will not help. You need to get your hands on an electric smoker, which I believe makes the whole cooking process much easier and produces a tasty turkey.

Jump Straight To:

Electric smoker turkey recipe

I think smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is foolproof and always delivers delicious results. All you need to do is brine your turkey and set the correct temperature. Then, you can spend the rest of the day prepping sides or relaxing with your family, knowing you will be putting an absolutely delicious meal on the table later.

Another reason I like using my electric smoker is that it allows me to use my oven. That means I don’t have to worry about not having room in the oven for my sides. It also helps if you’re cooking your turkey in a place that doesn’t have an oven, like an RV, trailer, or really small kitchen.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Smoked Turkey

Whole Turkey

Brown Sugar

Kosher Salt

Apple Juice

Cold Water

Oranges Cleaned and Quartered

Fresh Ginger Thinly Sliced (Skin On)

Bay Leaves

Garlic Cloves Peeled and Crushed (the Bigger the Better)

Whole Cloves

Turkey has just got in my electric smoker

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

Choosing The Right Turkey

Before you decide what size turkey to buy, you must determine how many people you are feeding.

You need half a pound of delicious smoked turkey meat per adult. You need to take into account the giblets and bones, so you need to allow 1 pound of raw turkey per adult.

Cooking for 8 – 10 people? That means you need to purchase a turkey that weighs around 8 -10 pounds. You are better off sticking to turkeys 15 pounds and under. If you are cooking for 15-plus people, I would recommend buying two turkeys.

As we will be cooking low and slow, larger turkeys may risk sitting in the danger zone for too long.

To Inject Your Turkey Or Not?

There is a lot of debate about whether you should inject your turkey. I like to do it as I find it adds some moisture to the bird. All you need to do is fill up a specially designed syringe with maple syrup, butter, duck fat, cognac or lemon juice, its up to up. Then you inject it into the turkey for a big boost of flavor.

Some people like to just either inject their turkey or brine it but there is no reason you can’t do both, just don’t add any salt to your injection liquid.

We have covered thawing, cleaning, brining, and rinsing turkey above. I have included them the steps below because they are so important to whipping up a juicy, succulent turkey.

How to Thaw Your Turkey

You need to ensure your frozen turkey is completely thawed before brining or smoking it. That way, the entire bird cooks at the rate thought.

As brining takes a few days, you may need to ensure your turkey is up a week before Thanksgiving or when you plan to cook it.

Here is my guide to thawing a turkey, but I have also included major things to remember below;

  • Per 4lbs it takes 24 hours to defrost. So if you have a 12lb turkey it may take 3 days to defrost in the refrigerator properly.
  • You should defrost your turkey at room temperature, this can could bacteria to grow and multiply.
  • You don’t need to wash your turkey, this can jut spread the bacteria

Brining Your Turkey

Before starting to smoke your turkey, you should brine it. This will enhance the bird’s moisture absorption and tenderize the meat. Brining is an easy way to ensure your turkey is moist, tender, and flavorful. You soak it in a mix of water, salt, and seasonings.

When your turkey is brining, the salt can break down the protein and season it. It also helps to keep it moist throughout the cooking process.

See my instructions for brining the turkey below.

Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to ensure the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, let it boil for one minute, then remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool to room temperature and refrigerate until it reaches 40°F.

In a container, stir the ginger, quartered oranges, and bay leaves into the apple juice mixture.

Place the turkey in the brine, breast side down. You may need to use a weight to keep the turkey fully submerged. Set the container in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours (for optimal results, aim for 72 hours).

Remove the turkey from the brine after 24 (or ideally, 72) hours. Thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels and place it on a rack inside a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Let it air dry in the fridge overnight. While not essential, this step will help achieve a crispy skin.

.

How to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker

We have gone through all the preparations for smoking a turkey in the thawing stage above. Now it is time to cook it and delight your friends and family with a smoked turkey

1. Seasoning Your Turkey

Before we season the outside turkey, we will stuff the cavity with aromatics such as garlic and rosemary.

Next, I tie the turkey’s legs together with cooking twine, fold the wings under the body, and tie it next to the breast. This will ensure the turkey cooks evenly. If you plan on spatchcocking the turkey you should do it at this stage of the cooking process. Next, we want to apply the apply binder before you apply the rub to the outside.

Spray it with cooking spray to help the rub stick and make the skin crisp. You can use butter or olive oil, but cooking spray is the easiest way to coat the turkey.

Now apply the rub, making sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies of the turkey. I have included my recipe for turkey rub below.

Tip: Save the neck and gizzard for an amazing soup later on! You can also smoke the turkey neck; it comes out surprisingly delicious!

My Easy Turkey Seasoning

4 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp dried thyme
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp garlic powder
1-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

2. Smoke Your Turkey

Preheat your electric smoker to 250°F. To get crispy skin, it is better to cook at 325°F-350°F, but some electric smokers don’t go this high if you do cook at a higher temperature.

Once you have fired up your smoker, place your wood chip of choice in it. I like to use a water pan for turkey. I usually add 2 cups of apple juice or beer.

Once the smoke is rolling, put your seasoned turkey inside. I like to place it breast-side up, which allows for crisper skin.

Place a thermometer probe in the turkey breast. Then, set your timer. I like to allow 30-40 minutes per pound of turkey. Remember that this is a guideline; you should go by internal temperature, not time if you’re not using a foil tray, oil the grates to stop the turkey from sticking.

Close the smoker and only open it every 45-60 minutes to check if you need more wood chips or baste the turkey with butter every 30 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the smoker when you get an internal temperature of 160°F in the thickest part of the breast (without touching any bones).

I usually smoke the turkey until it has an internal temperature of 160°F, then place it in the oven at 350°F and allow the internal temperature to get up to 165°F. Not only do you get crisper skin, but it also reduces cooking time.

Don’t worry if you can’t fit the turkey in the oven; you can cook it in the smoker, but your skin won’t be as crispy

3. Resting Your Turkey

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil. This will allow for carry-over cooking and ensure the breasts reach the desired of 165°F. You should let it rest for 25-30 minutes before you start carving.

How Long to Smoke A Turkey in an Electric Smoker?

You want to cook the turkey for around 30 minutes per pound at 225°F. Like most meats, there is no set time for smoking a turkey. A few factors come into play.

• The size and shape of your turkey

• The temperature of your electric smoker

  • How often does the smoker open once you place the turkey inside it

How to Check The Internal Temperature of Turkey

Put a temperature probe in the breast and cook until the breast and legs reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Make sure you don’t touch any bones when you insert the probe. Remove the turkey from the smoker and lightly tent with aluminum foil, during this resting period the carryover cooking will ensure the breast reaches 165°F

Our Favorite Sides For Smoked Turkey

Sides are one of the most essential parts of a smoked turkey dinner, so make sure you have some delicious ones picked out.

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

Brown Butter Carrots

Cheesy Potatoes

What Wood to Use to Smoke Turkey?

Our favorite types of wood for smoking turkey are cedar, alder, cherry, maple, plum, and hickory. Fruitwoods have a sweeter flavor, which works well with turkey. But our family’s favorite wood for turkey is cherrywood.

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. When smoking a turkey, you need at least 1-2 cups of wood chips.

Should You 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 bird’s spine so it can lay flat. This is great for those of you who have a smaller smoker or fridge space.

What to Do With Leftover Turkey

There are always leftovers when you smoke a whole turkey.

There is nothing better than a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, although you might be wondering how long is smoked turkey good for? Just ensure you eat it within 3-4 days of refrigerating it.

Here are some of our families favorite ways to use leftover turkey

Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Nachos

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza

Leftover Turkey Chili

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

It is easy to smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is simple and always produces a turkey flavorful packed holiday meal or family event. The crispy skin will get everyone's mouths watering. This one has proven to be a winner time and time again.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Brining Time1 day
Total Time1 day 8 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, dinner
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 685kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 42

Ingredients

  • 1 whole whole turkey 10lbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter for a binder

Rub

  • 4 tbsp turkey rub you can either use store brought or my recipe above

Stuffing

  • 1 whole onion halved
  • 1 whole apple halved
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 whole lemon halved

Brining liquid

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 oz apple juice
  • 3 oz cold water
  • 3 whole oranges cleaned and quartered
  • 4 ounces ginger thinly sliced
  • 6 whole bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 15 whole cloves

Basting liquid:

  • 200 grams Unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh herbs thyme, sage, parsley
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Instructions

  • To a large saucepan add the apple juice, brown sugar and salt. Over a high heat bring to the boil making sure you stir until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for one minute once dissolved then remove from the heat. Cool at room temperature then 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!
  • Baste the turkey every 40min
  • 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!

Smoked Turkey Benefits

If you follow the smoked turkey recipe below you will know how delicious this is it!

However, this smoked turkey recipe doesn’t only taste good, it has lots of health benefits over other meats and cooking methods too:

Struggling to carve your turkey? I recommend you get yourself a knife for carving the turkey, this will save your pride, bird and fingers!

What to Do Next?
Now you’re ready to cook, make sure you see our best turkey recipes!
Read: Our Best Turkey Gravy Recipe
Learn : How to Dry Brine a Turkey

Electric smokers are an easy and very tasty way to cook your turkey. 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.

What’s your favorite turkey rub?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

10 thoughts on “How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker”

  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?

      Cheers,

      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?
      Cheers,

      Charlie

  4. 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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating