Smoked Whole Turkey

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When it comes time to smoke a turkey, I usually spatchcock it.

While this reduces cooking time, you may prefer the conventional Norman Rockwell entire turkey.

I’ll go through several tried-and-true ways for smoking a whole turkey in this recipe. My process takes a bit longer, but the end product is well worth it.

How to make a whole smoked turkey

Smoked Whole Turkey

1. The bird 

When it comes to turkeys, larger isn’t necessarily better. Large turkeys need more time to defrost, prepare, and cook.

I feel that turkeys between 10 and 12 pounds are the best since they are more delicious and less likely to dry out.

If you’re serving a big group, get two turkeys in this size range rather than one huge one.

I’m using a Crowd Cow Ferndale Market turkey for this dish. Each Ferndale Market turkey has been antibiotic-free and free-range grown. They are prepared organically and contain no additives. Like most turkeys, the neck and giblet are included, and they taste excellent!

2. The brine

The brining procedure is one that many people underestimate or disregard. Brining is a method of adding flavor and moisture to your turkey that should not be overlooked. It’s a game changer, so don’t pass it up.

I brine my turkey using a combination of salt, sugar, spices, herbs, and citrus.

Check out our turkey brine recipe for a delicious brine that will guarantee each mouthful is laden with juicy flavor.

Before immersing the bird, make sure you remove all innards (neck, giblets, etc.). My turkey is brined for 24 hours.

3. Pre seasoning

Here are some things to consider before seasoning your turkey.

  • Make careful to dry your turkey, particularly if it has been brined. You may wipe it dry with paper towels and place it in the fridge for one to two hours, uncovered. This will aid in the crisping of the skin.
  • Stuff the cavity of the turkey with onions, celery, carrots, apples, lemons, oranges, and herbs for added taste. This also helps to keep your turkey moist.
  • Truss the turkey legs by crossing them and tying them together with butcher’s twine.

4. Seasoning

It’s time to season your turkey once it’s been brined.

I soften a stick of unsalted butter at room temperature before slathering it all over the exterior of the turkey.

As the butter melts and cooks into the skin of the turkey, it will slowly baste itself. The butter also contributes to the color.

I heavily seasoned the whole turkey with a chicken rub from my pals at Crove Food Co.

Any poultry rub will do. There are several options available. If you’re searching for a wonderful DIY turkey rub, we’ve got you covered! Our handmade rub will give your turkey a rich herby taste and a deep mahogany color.

It’s also OK to penetrate beneath the skin and season. Just be cautious not to rip the skin while doing so.

I found that if you properly brine the turkey, there is no need to season below. However, it is your turkey, so you make the decisions!

Allow the turkey to rest for around 10-15 minutes on the counter while you prepare your smoker.

5. The smoke

Preheat your smoker to 250F.

I used my Traeger Timberline 1300 with Bear Mountain Cherry Pellets for this roast. Cherry wood, in my view, works really well with chicken, and I often use it.

If you do not like cherry or do not have any on hand, any fruit or mild wood would suffice. Avoid stronger poultry smoking woods, such as hickory or mesquite, since they may soon dominate.

Once the smoker has reached temperature, lay the turkey directly on the rack and insert a temperature probe into the deepest section of the breast.

Allow the turkey to smoke for 2 hours before raising the temperature of your smoker to 350°F.

Begin basting the turkey with melted butter after it has reached 135°F.

Using a brush, just spread the butter onto the turkey and along the edges. You don’t want to brush the turkey since it will destroy the skin.

Repeat every 10 degrees until the turkey achieves an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When the turkey achieves an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the deepest region of the breast, take it from the smoker.

Don’t be concerned if the thighs and legs reach temperatures greater than 165°F; the dark flesh should maintain moisture.

The entire cooking time will vary based on the size of the bird and the smoker. My time was around 3.5 hours.

Rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Here are some sides that go well with turkey: 

  • Maple glazed bacon-wrapped carrots
  • Smoked cranberry sauce
  • Sausage stuffing with herbs.
  • Herby roast potato salad
  • Cranberry walnut pasta salad

Whole Smoked Turkey Recipe


How long does it take to smoke a whole turkey at 225?

Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Cook the turkey for 8 to 12 hours, or until the inner thigh temperature reaches 180° F, on a cooking rack. After 312 hours, check the temperature of your turkey. Your turkey must cross a crucial temperature range of 40° F to 140° F in 4 hours or less.

How long does it take to smoke a 12 to 15 pound turkey?

2 hours at 225 deg F. I always leave myself an additional 30 minutes just in case.Close the cover and smoke the turkey by placing it directly on the grill grates. You may expect the turkey to smoke for around 30 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F. For example, a 15-pound turkey will need 7 and 1

How long to smoke a 13 pound turkey at 225?

When smoking a turkey at 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit, allow 30 minutes per pound. This 13-pound turkey took around 7-8 hours to reach temperature. Remove the turkey from the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes, still wrapped in foil, before slicing.

Can you smoke a 24 pound turkey?

Smoking a large bird is a significant commitment, and most pitmasters would agree. The optimal weight for smoked meat is 12 pounds or less. As previously said, you can easily smoke a 20-pound turkey, but it will need some work on your side.

Is it better to smoke a turkey at 225 or 350?

Low & Slow Time and Temperatures

Some cook at 225 degrees Fahrenheit (usually recommended), which implies 35-40 minutes per pound. Others roast their turkey at temperatures as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which may reduce cooking time.

Is it better to smoke a turkey at 225 or 250?

With that in mind, I would recommend smoking your chicken at 225° F (or up to 275° F) for a longer cook period to produce more smoke flavor. In a charcoal smoker, you may cook at temperatures as high as 325° F while still getting enough of smoke flavor.

How do you keep a turkey moist when smoking?

While smoking the turkey, baste or spritz it with chicken stock to keep it moist and crisp up the skin. This recipe’s butter will really make your skin crisp, thus the spritzing is more to protect it from drying out.

Should I season my turkey before smoking?

If you dry brined the turkey, it may not need any further spices. Before using it on your smoker or grill, just spray it with oil. If the turkey was wet brined, treat the dried body with oil before applying the dry rub.

What is the best temp to smoke a turkey?

Turkey may be smoked at temperatures as low as 225 degrees, although it cooks significantly faster at 275-300 degrees, or even higher. Smoking at a lower temperature requires more time in the smoker, but the turkey may have a stronger smoke flavor as a result.

What is the Danger Zone for smoking turkey?

When smoking turkey, food safety is of the utmost importance. Turkey breasts, drumsticks, wings, and entire turkeys are all suitable for smoking, but for your own safety, stick to whole turkeys weighing 12 pounds or less. Between 40°F to 140°F, Turkey is in the “Danger Zone,” where bacteria multiplies the quickest.

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