Smoked turkey is a certified crowd-pleaser and a great centerpiece for a Thanksgiving feast. 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 is not going to help you. You need to get your hands on an electric smoker and I believe it makes the whole cooking process much easier and turn out a tasty turkey.
Jump Straight To:
- How to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker
- How Long to Smoke A Turkey in an Electric Smoker?
- How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 225
Table of contents
Electric smoker turkey recipe
I believe that smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is fool proof and always delivers delicious results. All you need to do is brine your turkey, set the correct temperature and you can spend the rest of the day prepping sides or relaxing with your family knowing you will be putting a absolutely delicious meal on the table later.
Another reason I like using my electric smoker is it allows me to use my oven. That means I don’t have worry not having room in the oven for my sides. It also helps if your cooking your turkey in a place that doesn’t have an oven like a RV, trailer or really small kitchen.
Ingredients You’ll Need for Smoked Turkey
Oranges Cleaned and Quartered
Fresh Ginger Thinly Sliced (Skin On)
Garlic Cloves Peeled and Crushed (the Bigger the Better)
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 have to figure out how many people you are feeding.
I calculate 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 can run the risk of 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 that 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 tenderize the meat. Brining is an easy way of making sure 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 is able to breakdown the protein as well as season it, it also helps to keep it moist thought-out the cooking process
See my instructions for brining the turkey below
In a large saucepan, combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt. 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 then refrigerate until it reaches 40°F.
In a container, stir the ginger, quatered 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).
After 24 (or ideally, 72) hours, remove the turkey from the brine. 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 though all the preparation for smoking a turkey in the thawing stage above. Now its time smoke it and delight your friend and family with a smoked turkey
1. Seasoning Your Turkey
Before we season the outside of the turkey we will stuff the cavity with aromatics such as garlic and rosemary. Next, we want to apply the apply binder before you apply the rub to the outside.
Next, I tie the legs of the turkey together with cooking twine and fold the wings under the body. Then tie it next to the breast. This will ensure the turkey cooks evenly.
You can either butter, oil spray, or olive oil. If you plan on spatchcocking the turkey you should do it at this stage of the cooking process.
We find that applying butter and then oil spray leaves you with the crispest skin. Now apply all the rub, you want to ensure you it get it into all 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, they come 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
The time you have been waiting for! Smoking time! Preheat your electric smoker to 350°F, once the smoker starts to produce smoke turn it down to 275°F -325°F. To get a really crispy skin you need to cook the turkey at 325°F-350°F but some smokers don’t go this high. =
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. This 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. You need to 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.
When you get an internal temperature of 160°F in the breast meat (without touching any bones) remove the turkey from the smoker.
So 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 reduces the cooking time. Don’t worry if you can’t fit the turkey in the oven, you can just cook it in the smoker but your skin won’t be as crispy
3. Resting Your Turkey
Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, covering it will allow for carry over cooking and ensure the breast reaches. 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 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 you place the turkey inside it.
How to Check The Internal Temperature of Turkey
Put a temperature probe in the breast and wait until the breast and legs both reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Make sure you don’t touch any bones when you insert the probe.
Our Favorite Sides For Smoked Turkey
Sides are one of the most important things for smoked turkey, so make sure you have some delicious ones picked out.
What Wood to Use to Smoke Turkey?
Our favorite types of wood for smoking turkey in an electric smoker 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. You need at least 1-2 cups of wood chips when smoking a turkey.
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 spine of the bird 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 make sure you eat it within 3-4 days of refrigerating it.
Here are some of our families’ favorite ways to use leftover turkey
How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker
- 1 whole whole turkey 10lbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil or butter for a binder
- 4 tbsp turkey rub you can either use store brought or my recipe above
- 1 whole onion halved
- 1 whole apple halved
- 1 stick celery
- 1 whole lemon halved
- 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
- 200 grams Unsalted butter
- Chopped fresh herbs thyme, sage, parsley
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 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:
- Turkey is a great source of protein, which means it will keep you fuller for longer.
- Turkey has a very lean muscle mass, which means that it helps the body keep a stabilized insulin level in the body.
- Turkey has high levels of B-6 & B-12 vitamins, as well as choline and zinc.
- Turkey breast has far fewer calories than other meats, so it is a great healthier alternative to other meats.
Struggling to carve your turkey? I recommend you get yourself a knife for carving the turkey, this will save your pride, bird and fingers!
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?
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.
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