how to smoke a turkey- smoked turkey

6 Tips on How to Smoke a Turkey Properly

How to Smoke a Turkey Properly

If you have never had smoked turkey, then you are missing out big time. Smoked turkey is absolutely delicious and, what’s more, it’s healthy too.

A lot of people assume when they taste how good smoked turkey is, that it must be very difficult to make. However, this is not the case. With a smoker and a little know-how, anyone can make a delicious smoked turkey. That is especially true if they follow these simple tips on how to smoke a turkey properly

How to Smoke a Turkey


Tip #1: Properly Prepare Your Turkey

First things first, it’s important to prepare your turkey the right way. Proper preparation is key to smoked turkey that is moist, delicious, and highly flavorful.

To prepare your turkey, remove the giblets and the neck. From there, drain all of the juices from the turkey, and, if frozen, allow it to thaw.

Some people say it’s fine to put a frozen turkey into a smoker, but we really don’t recommend it. It’s hard for the turkey to cook fully and evenly if it starts off frozen, so, even though it takes some time, go ahead and thaw it out before you cook it.

Tip #2: Put Temperature Above All Else  

how to smoke a turkey - oven showing set temprature

A lot of people think that they have to smoke their turkey for a certain amount of time. And, while it’s fine to have a general timing idea in mind, the thing that really matters is what temperature the turkey reaches, not how long it cooks.

You can easily measure internal meat temperature by using a metal thermometer- the digital ones tend to be the most accurate. Ideally, you want your turkey to reach a temperature of about 175 degrees in the thigh and 165 degrees in the breast.

When your turkey hits this temperature, it’s done to perfection, no matter how much time has passed.

Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Cut it Up 

how to smoke a turkey- cut up turkey

We know we said time isn’t really the most important thing when it comes to smoking a turkey. However, you should know that, on average, a turkey can take anywhere from six to eight hours to fully smoke.

However, if you are trying to speed up the cooking time, know that it’s okay to cut up your turkey into pieces. It will cook much faster that way. In fact, often, the cooking time is cut in half when you take this route.

Cutting up the turkey, contrary to what you may have been told, will not hinder or affect its taste in the least.

Tip #4: No Stuffing is Necessary 

When you’re cooking a turkey in the oven, it’s perfectly fine to stuff it and slide it in. However, it doesn’t work that way when you’re smoking a turkey. In fact, if you stuff a turkey before smoking it, the stuffing is likely to get all soggy and to develop an odd taste.

After all, the smoke flavor doesn’t mix well with everything. Honestly, the smoking process will make the meat so flavorful and moist that you’re probably not going to want stuffing at all. If you absolutely have to have stuffing, though, stuff your turkey after it comes out of the smoker. The stuffing will taste better and fresher that way.

Tip #5: Choose Your Wood Wisely

how to smoke a turkey-fire using wood

When it comes to what wood you want to use with your turkey, the choice is yours. Different people have vastly different taste preferences. However, make sure you know what flavors different woods will deliver so that you can end up with a turkey that tastes the way you want.

If you like sweeter tasting meats, opt for apple wood or cherry wood. If you’re a person who prefers a smokier taste, give hickory wood a try. Also, make sure you use high-quality wood specifically designed for use in cooking.

Tip #6: Use Oil for Crispy Skin

how to smoke a turkey- olive oil

Everyone knows that the best part of the turkey is the skin. However, you don’t just get a delicious skin from a smoker without a little effort on your part.

To ensure the skin is crispy, coat it thoroughly in vegetable oil. The oil will allow the skin to cook just a little bit more than it otherwise would, ensuring crispy, juicy, and utterly delicious skin that everyone will love.

For even more flavor, use a seasoning or rub of your choice just underneath the skin. The skin itself has enough flavor on its own, but a rub or seasoning is a good idea to flavor the actual meat.

Enjoy Your Smoked Turkey 

how to smoke a turkey- delicious smoked turkey

There you have it- a few secrets that will lead to a perfect smoked turkey every time.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your turkey and start cooking today.

Featured image: CC0 by Pixabay, kehlmack, via  Pixabay

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