Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Crispy Golden Skin

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There are very few things that beat the mouth-watering flavor of a Pit Boss smoked turkey! This delicious turkey is tender, flavorsome, simple to make, and has perfectly crisp skin. It’s perfect for a festive meal or an easy protein to cook and have leftovers all week long; how doesn’t love a leftover turkey sandwich?

Follow the simple steps below to take your festive feast or weeknight meal to the next level!

The Perfect Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Crispy Skin

The best part about smoking a turkey is the simplicity. This is the perfect recipe if you prefer to set it and forget. You will need some patience, but the results are so good it’s worth it; remember to allow enough time for your bird to defrost if you’re using a frozen one.

Another reason I love preparing this smoked turkey is its versatility. You can use this recipe any time of the year, for your holiday meal and in summer or winter. Smoke your turkey and shred it, and you can use it on salads for cookouts or in wraps or sandwiches all week long.

What You Need for This Smoked Turkey Recipe

Whole Turkey



Brown Sugar


Apple Juice

Cold Water

Oranges Cleaned and Quartered

Ginger Thinly Sliced

Bay Leaves

Garlic Cloves Peeled

Crushed Cloves

Unsalted Butter

Chopped Fresh Herbs

How to Make Pit Boss Smoked Turkey

Below are the seven simple steps to prepping and smoking your turkey using a Pit Boss smoker.

1. Allow The Turkey to Defrost

Allow enough time for the turkey to defrost. This can take up to 3 days, I have included an image that will guide you on when to take your turkey out of the freezer before you cook it.

2: Remove The Innards

Once the turkey is defrosted, you must remove the innards from the turkey’s cavity.

3: Brine The Turkey

You need to determine whether your turkey is pre-brined. If you use a pre-brined turkey, you do not need to brine it before smoking. If your turkey has not already been brined, you should proceed with the brining process outlined 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.

Blend the remaining ingredients into the apple juice mixture in a container. 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.

4: Pat, Dry and Tie Turkey

Take the turkey out of the fridge. Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the body. Then, cover the turkey in butter and season with your BBQ rub. At this point, you can start preparing and preheating your smoker.

5: Preheat The Smoker

Preheat your smoker to 225°F. You want to smoke your turkey with a consistent temperature and indirect heat. Place a drip tray or shallow pan under the turkey to catch the drippings. You can use this for turkey gravy later!

6. Smoke The Turkey

Once it reaches 225°F, place the turkey breast side up in the smoker away from direct heat.

As a general guideline, at 225°F, a whole turkey will require approximately 30 minutes per pound. Smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer registers 165°F in the thickest part of the breast, which should take around 6 to 8 hours, depending on the turkey’s size.

7. Allow The Turkey to Rest

Allow the turkey to rest for 15 -20 minutes. If you cover it with foil, the skin might not be as crispy. You can place it in the oven for a broil to make the skin crispy again.

Carve and serve with your favorite sides!

How Long to Smoke a Turkey

The general rule of thumb is to smoke for a half-hour per pound when cooking at 225F. 

However, it’s best to monitor the internal temperature rather than going by cook time as it may fluctuate depending on the cooking temperature and the size and quality of the bird.

You should aim to reach an internal temp of 165F, the food safety standards recommendation.  Monitor this temperature with a temperature probe.

Choosing Your Turkey

When it comes to smokers, bigger is not always better.  A smaller bird works best on a pellet grill, mainly for food safety reasons.

It’s best to limit the weight to 15 pounds of turkey maximum. Drawing out the cooking process too long increases the risk of bacteria thriving.

If you need more than a 15-pound turkey, it’s best to cook two birds. If the bird is too large, you’ll struggle to reach the internal temperature and spend all day waiting for it to cook.

When smoking a turkey, it’s best not to use stuffing. The idea is to allow as much smoke and air to flow through the bird as possible. You just rub the cavity of the turkey with delicious ingredients like butter and aromatics.

Brining The Turkey

Brining is a good way to increase the flavors and maintain moisture. The brine can help with getting crispy skin on smoked turkey by drawing out excess moisture and allowing it to dry slightly on the surface while keeping the flesh succulent.  

There are two types of brining: wet brine and dry brine. I recommend going with a wet brine, as it gives more flavor to the turkey; however, you can also try the dry brine method.

How to Wet Brine a Turkey

After the turkey has thawed to room temperature, rinse with cold water to remove any residue, and pat dry with a paper towel.

Mix the solution of salt, water, chicken stock, and any herbs, spices, and seasonings, boiling them together and then letting them cool.

Place the turkey in an airtight or brine container, completely covered in the brine solution. Let stand in the fridge for around 18-24 hours.

When you are ready to smoke the turkey, remove it from the brine and let it stand to reach room temperature before placing it in the pellet smoker.

You can also try my apple cider vinegar brine for smoked turkey. It ensures your turkey is super juicy and flavorful every time.

How to Dry Brine a Turkey

If you want to avoid all the mess, try a dry brine instead. Rinse and dry the entire bird, then cover it with a layer of kosher salt and desired seasonings, such as black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, or whatever else you add to your favorite turkey brine recipe.

Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.

Just before smoking, wipe off the excess moisture and salt, and season with the dry ingredients of herbs, spices, and seasonings.

What to Do Your Turkey Leftovers

You can use your turkey leftovers in multiple ways to whip up an exciting and quick dinner on a weeknight. 

Combine cream cheese, hot sauce, yogurt, and a few other ingredients to create a smoked turkey dip.

What Type of Pellets to Use for Turkey

One of the most important things to do is pick the flavor of wood chips to smoke the turkey. Sweeter, subtle flavors are best for turkey meat, giving it a subtle smoky flavor without overpowering it. Here are some of the types of wood I like to use: maple, hickory, apple, pecan, and cherry woods.

What to Serve With Smoked Turkey

Barbeque Cranberry Sauce

Brussel Sprouts

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Carrots in Brown Butter

Crispy Bacon and Cheese Mash Potatoes

Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding

Click here to see all the best sides dishes to serve with smoked turkey.

Looking For More Turkey Recipes?

If you’re a fan of this smoked turkey recipe, be sure to explore my collection of smoked turkey recipes! There are multiple approaches to smoking a turkey, and I want to ensure you present the best bird you can.

Smoked Turkey Wings

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoking A Turkey in A Gas Smoker

Pit Boss Smoked Turkey Recipe

Ready to smoke a whole turkey in your Pit Boss smoker? This recipe will ensure your turkey comes out juicy, moist and flavorful
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 40 minutes
Course main, Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, lunch
Servings 8 servings
Calories 485 kcal


  • Smoker


  • 1 12lb Whole Turkey

Brine liquid:

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

Basting liquid:

  • 200 g Unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch Chopped fresh herbs
  • 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 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 smoker.
  • Fire up your 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!
Keyword Smoked Turkey, Thanksgiving, Turkey, turkey gravy

What are your family’s favorite sides for smoked turkey?

Smoke On!


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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