How To Smoke Turkey On A Gas Smoker

There is nothing better than smoking a turkey in a gas smoker. You always get crispy golden skin with juicy, succulent meat. You also get rich, smoky flavors that will have all your guests coming back for seconds.

But smoking a whole turkey can be pretty intimidating for those of you who have never done it before. So, I will break down these techniques and processes so that you can make your holiday or Thanksgiving meal one to remember.

What We Cover in This Article:
Smoking a Turkey in a Gas Smoker
How To Smoke A Turkey On A Gas Grill

What You Need

This is the equipment and supplies you need to get before you start smoking your turkey.

Turkey

If you go for a fresh turkey, make sure you pick one that is under 15 pounds. This is due to food safety recommendations. If you cooking for a large group if it would be better to cook multiple turkeys than one large one.

If you use a turkey over 15 pounds it can spend too long in the danger zone, and bacteria can grow. If you do want to cook a turkey over 15 pounds, you can try smoked spatchcocked turkey. This is where you flatten the turkey, which helps cook it faster.

Smoker

You can cook a turkey on many different appliances. We have done one in our pellet smoker, one in our electric smoker, and one in our oven. For this recipe, we are using our gas smoker. You can also use a gas grill and implement the charcoal snake method. We have included that recipe at the end of the page.

Brine Ingredients.

We recommend brining the turkey for at least 48 hours.

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

Wood Chips/ Gas

Ensure you have enough wood chips or gas to run your smoker for the entire cook. We always have a backup gas bottle, just in case.

We like using cherry wood, apple wood, and hickory when smoking our turkey. These all produce a lighter flavor that won’t overpower your smoked turkey.

How to Prepare Turkey For Smoking

Below are the steps you need to take to prepare your turkey for the smoker.

Plan and Thaw Your Turkey

In this recipe, you will be brining the turkey for 72 hours. You need to brine it defrosted, so calculate how long your turkey will take to defrost so that you have enough time to brine it. Note that it takes 30 minutes per pound for a turkey to defrost.

Brine Your Turkey

Combine the apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan, boil, and then allow to cool. Once cooled, add the rest of the brine ingredients, then place the turkey and brine in a bag that is large enough for both.

Once the turkey and brine are inside, fasten the bag. Place in the fridge for at least 48 hours. We did ours for 72 hours. Then, remove the turkey from the brine, pat dry, and allow it to sit in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours.

Tie Your Turkey

Using butcher twine, tie together the legs and tuck the wings between the shoulder joint. This prevents the wing tips from burning in the smoker.

Season The Turkey

This is optional. However, I like to rub the bird with olive oil and melted butter. If you didn’t brine the turkey, I would suggest giving the outside a rub with smoked chicken or turkey rub.

I suggest not stuffing your turkey cavity with a minimal amount of aromatics. Less stuffing will ensure proper airflow throughout and a nice, even cook.

How To Smoke Turkey On A Gas Smoker

Below are the steps for smoking a turkey. Ensure you follow the preparation steps above and either brine or apply a rub to your turkey.

Preheat Your Smoker

Set your smoker to 225°F and set it up for indirect cooking. When smoking turkey, you want to maintain a consistent temperature.

Place in The Smoker

Once your smoker is preheated, place your bird on the grates, breast side up. Place a tray at the bottom of the smoker to catch the turkey drippings. This will also allow you to make delicious turkey gravy.

If you are using temperature probes, place these in the breast and thigh.

Note: Do not smoke (or roast) your turkey directly inside a roasting pan or rack. This will result in a very soggy turkey.

Smoke

To cook your turkey, you want to allow 30 minutes per pound if your temperature is set to 225°F. The table below has timings for different temperatures. The turkey is finished cooking when it reaches 165°F in the breast and thigh.

You want to baste the turkey every 40 minutes. To make a basting mix, combine the following in a saucepan and slowly heat until combined.

  • 200g Unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Rest

Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker and rest for 10-15 minutes. You should never carve your turkey from the carcass. Instead, deconstruct your bird into pieces and carve each piece individually.

What Temperature To Smoke A Turkey At

You want to smoke your turkey at 225 with indirect heat. This will ensure you end up with a succulent turkey.

I have included a table below, which shows you exactly how long to cook a temperature at different temperatures.

Temperature (C)Temperature (F)Time
13527520 – 25 minutes per pound
12025025 – 30 minutes per pound
11523530 – 35 minutes per pound
11022530 minutes per pound.

What To Do With Leftovers

With a turkey, you ALWAYS have leftovers! I like to do a big batch of it and put it in the fridge for sandwiches.

How Long to Cook?

If your smoker is set to 225°F it will take 30 minutes per pound to smoke your turkey. If your smoker your is set to 235°F the turkey will take 30 – 35 minutes per pound to cook.

When I cooked my 12-pound turkey last year, it took 6 hours at 225°F to cook completely.

Internal Temperature

You want the turkey’s internal temperature to be at least 165°F before you eat it.

The best way to ensure your internal temperature is correct is with a meat thermometer. Make sure you check the thickest part of the turkey, the breast. Also, check the thigh, but be careful not to touch the bone.

More Smoked Turkey Recipes

If you enjoyed this smoked turkey recipe, you should check out some of my other recipes.

Smoking Turkey in a Gas Smoker

Smoked Turkey Tails

Smoking Turkey in an Electric Smoker

Turkey Gravy

Smoked Turkey Wings

Smoked Turkey in a Pit Boss

What to Serve With Smoked Turkey

Some of my favorite sides for smoked turkey include;

Brown Butter Carrots

Smoked Brussel Sprouts

Cranberry Sauce

Cheesy Smoked Potatoes

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Smoked Turkey In A Gas Smoker

This is a simple recipe for smoking a turkey in a gas smoker. Please feel free to use this recipe as a base and put your own flare on it!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Brining and air drying1 day 12 hours
Total Time1 day 20 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 326kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 25

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Turkey

Brine liquid:

  • 1 lb brown sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 3 oranges cleaned and quartered
  • 4 ounces ginger thinly sliced
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 15 whole cloves
  • Brined for 36 hours.
  • Fridge dried for 12 hours.

Basting liquid:

  • 200 g Unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • 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 large container, add the remaining ingredients together into the apple juice mixture. Place the turkey into the brine breast side down. You might need to weigh down the turkey with a weight to keep it fully submerged. Set aside in the fridge for 24 -72 hours (for best results leave for 72 hours).
  • After 24 (or ideally 72 ) hours remove the turkey from the brine. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels and set on a rack inside a baking tray lined with baking paper 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 and pre heat your gas smoker.
  • Fire up your gas smoker according to your manufacturers specifications and pre heat it to 225°F. Once you have reached 225°F get your turkey in there!
  • As a rule of thumb at 225°F a whole turkey will take around 30 minutes per pound. You need to smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer reaches 165°F in the thickest park of the breast. This should be around 6 – 8 hours depending on the size of your turkey.
  • Carve and serve with your favorite sides!

You Need to Have Gravy for Your Turkey!

I have two favorite recipes, my one below and this one from Delia Online. This gravy is quick, simple & easy. You will thank me later when you are chowing down on a smoked turkey sandwich dripping with gravy!

1. While the turkey is smoking take the gizzard, neck & around 10 peppercorns. Simmer in a quart of water on a low heat.

2. Once your grill has cooled, carefully remove the drip pan and run the drippings through a fat separator then add into the simmering neck, gizzard & peppercorn broth. Add in any leftover meat from carving the bird.

3. Fish out the gizzard, neck and most of the peppercorns and keep on a very light simmer.

4. In a separate pan make a roux by melting 2 teaspoons of butter while mixing in 2 ½ teaspoons of flour. Stir constantly until golden brown.

5. Stir the roux into the gravy broth and season with a little thyme, salt & pepper to your taste.

6. Simmer for around 5 minutes on a low heat until thick. This gravy is best served nice and hot!

How To Smoke A Turkey On A Gas Grill

turkey smoked in gas smoker 2
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Smoked Turkey On A Gas Grill

Not everyone has a gas smoker, but thats ok. You can still smoke a turkey on a traditional gas grill, and its not too hard! I will walk you through step-by-step how to smoke a turkey on a gas grill.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time6 hours
Brining Time12 hours
Total Time16 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 8
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: 50

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp kosher salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 quartered small onion
  • 1 turkey around 10-15 lbs, unfrozen with the neck and giblets removed (set aside for later)
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch of fresh sage
  • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 large handful wood chips I suggest apple, alder, or cherry wood
  • 2-3 wood chunks I suggest apple, alder, or cherry wood
  • 3 tbsp ghee melted
  • 6 cloves garlic I love my garlic so you might want to use a little less
  • A bunch of ice cubes
  • The rind of 1 lemon/orange

Instructions

  • Start off by pouring 1 quart of water into a very large stockpot, add the honey and kosher salt.
  • Heat on a high heat and stir until the honey and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour in ice, stir until the ice melts and the water has turned cold (you’re looking for room temperature or below). Once at room temperature add the turkey and be sure the turkey is fully submerged (use a weight if you need to). Cover and stick in the fridge for at least 12 hours.Tip: If your fridge is not large enough, you can use a cold dark basement. If you choose to do this you want the temperature to be below 30°F.
  • After 12 hours remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Air dry for 30 mins on a wire racked lined with baking paper. If your fridge is big enough for the wire rack and turkey this is perfect, otherwise anywhere out of the sun is fine.
  • Now it’s time to prepare your smoking woods. You will need to small aluminium pans, place one handful of wood chips in one and a few wood chunks in the other. In the wood, chips pan add about ½” of water. This will allow the wood chunks to burn & smoke first so you will not need to add more chips in mid-smoke. The best woods for this smoked turkey are alder mixed with one fruit wood. Mixing fruit woods can create a weird more complex flavour in my opinion, so it’s best to keep it simple with just the one.
  • Add the aluminium pans under the grill grates, you want to place these on the side of your grill that is going to be kept hot.On the cool side place one large aluminium pan and fill with around 1” of water. This will keep the smoker nice and moist and will also catch any dripping so you can create a delicious gravy when done! (See the bottom of the page)
  • Once the bird has air dried, its time to prepare the aromatics for your stuffing. I find the rind of a lemon or an orange works much better than actual fruit pieces, this is because there is no moisture in the rind. Adding moisture to the inside of the bird can alter cooking times. Add the onion, garlic, lemon/orange rind, and the sage & thyme to the inside of the turkey.
    Tip: don’t overcrowd the inside of the bird. If it’s a tight squeeze to get everything in don’t use everything!
  • Once stuffed brush the entire turkey with the ghee. Start on the underside and work your way around to the top. Don’t worry if the ghee starts to harden after it has been applied. Make sure you get every inch of the bird. Now season all over with the salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Turn on your grill and heat on high for 10 minutes, You want to wait until you see wood chunks start to smoke. Once you see smoke appear turn off all the burners bar one. You want to leave one on and keep a stabilized temperature of 325°F. Once you have a stable temperature and only then, add the turkey! To prevent the wing tips from burning wrap them with foil. Cover the turkey and let smoke for one hour.Tip: Avoid peaking! The bird won’t go anywhere, peaking will just let heat and smoke escape and will end up taking longer for your bird to cook.
  • After 1 hour you want to rotate the turkey. Take care when doing this you do not want to burn yourself! Or drop the turkey! Turn the turkey 180° so the other side is facing the hot side of the grill. At this stage, you can remove the foil from the wing tips. Be sure to pour out any liquid that has accumulated and cover up again and smoke for a further 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes open your turkey back up and pour out any liquid that has accumulated into the pan underneath. At this stage, you want to check the internal temperature of the bird. The breasts want to be around 160°F and the thighs to be 170°F (They will continue to cook a further 5 or so degrees while resting). If the temperatures are too low pop back in for further smoking, checking every 10 – 15 minutes to ensure you do not overcook. As a general rule of thumb, a 12-pound bird takes around 2 hours to reach these temperatures.
  • Place cooked bird on a wire back with baking paper to let rest for 20 minutes before carving. This will give the juices time to set and the bird to come all the way to temperature. So not cover with foil, this will turn your perfect crispy skin into soggy skin.
  • After the bird has rested it’s time to carve! Remove each section individually from the bird and carve separately. I personally like to carve the breast against the grain into ½ – ¾“ pieces and shave the thigh meat off the bone. Be sure to save any leftovers to add to the gravy broth.

Smoking a turkey is not as scary and hard as you first thought, is it? These two smoked turkey recipes are a good way to feed a crowd or the family.

I hope these step-by-step guides have given some of you insight into how easy it is to smoke or grill smoke a turkey.

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.

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