Thanksgiving: How to Smoke a Turkey

Smoking a turkey brings out a bird’s sultry side. Different than the standard styles of turkey preparations, smoking can be not only easy, but economical.
Tips: Don’t use a huge bird. Because there’s a danger zone in keeping uncooked poultry at a tepid temperature for too long, and because it takes between 6-8 hours to smoke a turkey, the bigger the turkey, the longer it takes (and the greater the danger of possible food poisoning).
Don’t have a smoker? One can try an indirect smoking method using a grill, but be cautious to keep the temperature hot enough to cook the bird!
Smoked turkey
1. Wash thawed turkey, inside and out, and remove giblets.
2. In smoker, fill the liquid pan with water.
3. Light quality charcoal and close the cover. Use a thrmometer to ensure the smoker is in the safe zone temperature wise (250-300 degrees F) before adding the turkey.
4. Place the turkey (sans stuffing) on the top grill rack.
5. Add charcoal as needed every hour to keep temperature at 250-300 degrees, and keep moisture in the pan, as both water and heat are necessary to achieve a perfect turkey. Open the door as minimally as possible, as every time the door is opened, 15 minutes will probably have to be added to the cooking time.
6. Turkey is finished when the inside of the thigh registers 160 degrees F with a meat thermometer.

  • Do not smoke turkey on a windy day unless sheltering the smoker from wind.
  • If using mesquite or hardwood chips, soak in water for an hour prior to use and then toss them on the already-hot coals.
  • We smoked a turkey last year and it didn’t cook all the way through. When this happened, we didn’t have to toss the turkey. We covered the bird loosely in foil and placed it in the oven at 350 degreed F until the internal temperature reached 160 degrees.
  • There are several kinds of smokers consumers can consider. The smoker to the left, by Weber, is big enough to smoke a turkey and a ham at the same time. This model currently retails for $229.00.
The Char Broil smoker to the right is a smaller model of smoker, but has the ability to also be used as a standard barbecue grill as well as a smoker. This model currently retails for $130.00.
Not sure how much smoker you need? Make sure to read Derrick Riches’ article “Before You Buy a Smoker” at Derrick also reviews several smokers in various price ranges.
Note: I am not affiliated with any products and neither endorse nor act as an affiliate to any companies mentioned. Products shown are sample products found through quick searches of the internet. Consumers should shop carefully prior to making any purchase.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. what can i use in my brine besides sugar

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.