Easy & Juicy Smoked Turkey

Pepe with smoked turkey for thanksgiving

Pepé Wants to know if it’s Legal to Smoke Turkey? 

Um, well Pepé, it’s not that kind of smoking, so yes, it’s totally legal. We will not be interrupted by the police today. Now, the fire department… Uh… Well, hopefully not. We are just gonna give it some additional flavor by letting the smoke from the wood chips penetrate the turkey. I prefer to use sweeter and/or milder wood chips since turkey has a delicate flavor on it’s own, but feel free to experiment with any flavor you choose. The bags will usually guide you to what type of foods go with those particular wood chips.  I used cherry this time.

Do I recommend rinsing your turkey?

No, I do not. Do you rinse all other meats? No. You don’t. I don’t recommend it because your sure to splash some of that raw poultry water all over the place and you really don’t want raw turkey juice anywhere. The turkey is fine, it’s not dirty and now you have one less thing to do. Besides, who wants to wrestle a 17-20 pound wet and slippery raw turkey?

What to expect?

Aside from a super delicious juicy smoked turkey, you will have more oven space to cook all those sides and desserts. You’ll have many happy guests devouring all that smoky goodness (unless you made this just for yourself, and who could blame you if you did). But, you might not have as much leftover turkey as you would want to make turkey salad or turkey pot pie or turkey soup OK that last one is really chicken pozole soup, but you can obviously sub chicken anywhere there’s a turkey (except on a chicken farm of course – I’m pretty sure a turkey would stand out amongst all those chickens)

Make your own bone broth

You can follow my link here for slow cooker chicken stock (bone broth), or you might want to just boil it in a larger pot on the stove since a turkey carcass is much bigger than that of a chicken. 

juicy smoked turkey

Easy & Juicy Smoked Turkey

Stacey Mincoff
If you’ve never smoked a turkey or eaten smoked turkey, you are in for a treat. The smoke adds a very subtle flavor and the brining keeps even the white meat juicy.
Prep Time 12 hrs
Cook Time 7 hrs
Total Time 19 hrs
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 15 people


What you'll need to smoke a turkey

  • 17-22 Pound Turkey
  • 2 Cups Wood Chips (Pecan (cherry, apricot, Apple, or whatever you like)


  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Cup Fresh Onions (chopped)
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder


  • 1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Inside the Bird:

  • 1 Medium Onion (quartered)
  • 1 Apple (quartered)
  • 1-2 Stalks Celery (quartered)
  • 3 Cloves garlic
  • 2 Sprigs thyme (optional)


  • Thaw your turkey completely –this may take 2-3 days. Remove all of the giblets from the turkey cavity and set them aside for later use (I use mine to make a stock which I use for gravy and/or stuffing/dressing). Mix your brine ingredient in a container large enough to hold them and your turkey. This could be a large pot, bag, or clean 5 gallon bucket – depends on the size of your turkey. You can also use a doubled trash bags and a cooler with ice. Place turkey in with brine and enough water to cover the bird.
    Pepe with turkey brining in a cooler
  • Brine your turkey in the refrigerator or a cooler for 12 hours or over night. Remove turkey from brine and dry completely with paper towels, inside and out. Allow to come up to room temperature. Meanwhile soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes to several hours.
    ingredients for turkey cavity
  • Chop the apples, celery, and onions and add them as well as the garlic and thyme springs to the turkey cavity
    compound butter mix for smoked turkey
  • Mix the butter, thyme, salt and black pepper together and rub under the skin (not every singe inch, but mainly the breast and thighs) same for the outside of the turkey.
    compound butter on turkey
  • Preheat an electric smoker to 225°F. Place your turkey and one cup of water in a heavy gauge aluminum roasting pan and set on rack in middle of smoker. Place temperature probe in the thickest part of the thigh.
    Gorgeous smoked turkey
  • Cook for an average of 15-30 minutes per pound or until temperature reaches 150°F to155°F in the thickest part of the thigh and juices run clear. Pull leg slightly away from the bird to check the color of the juices.
    Pepe checking the turkey while it smokes
  • Remove from smoker, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Temperature will continue to rise 5-10 degrees and this gives you time to make gravy if you haven’t already.
  • Carve breasts off turkey one at a time, then slice them against the grain and place on a platter. Arrange all other meat on platter (see photo). Pour some of the juices over the meat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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