Best Smoked Turkey Recipe

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Ever wondered how to smoke a turkey? This is the best smoked turkey recipe we’ve tried. Free up the oven and learn how to make an amazing dinner of smoked turkey stuffed with fruit and aromatics.

A close up of a smoked turkey with slice out

Best Smoked Turkey Recipe

Summer is often the time we smoke meat, but fall is perfect for testing out smoked turkey recipes for Thanksgiving. I’ve seen turkeys on sale at our local grocery store several times in the past few months. Sometimes they are hard to find or really expensive, but this year they’ve been plentiful so we’ve been eating more turkey than usual.

Traditionally, my family traditionally cooks a whole turkey in an oven bag. But every now and then we like to try something new. We came across this turkey recipe on Allrecipes.com and it got amazing reviews so we had to give it a try. It was the juiciest turkey I’d ever had. Absolutely delicious!

How do I prepare a turkey for smoking?

Although it is common to rinse a turkey before cooking, the USDA actually does not recommend this because it can actually spread germs around your kitchen in doing so. If you are brining a turkey then you should definitely rinse it, but otherwise, there is no need to rinse!

Place the turkey in a large roasting pan (we often use disposable for easy cleanup). Remove the neck and giblets. You can save these for another use (we use them for gravy) or discard them. Take paper towels and pat the turkey dry. You do this so the seasoning will stick to the bird.

What is a good seasoning for turkey?

Often times you can get creative and put a spice rub all over the outside of the turkey, but for this recipe we kept it simple with minced garlic and seasoned salt. Most of the flavor for this turkey is coming from ingredients being baked inside the cavity, so garlic and seasoned salt just help add to that flavor.

What can I put in the turkey cavity for flavor?

When I saw the combination of ingredients that when inside this turkey, I was initially confused, but immediately went to excited. Coca-cola, apple, onion, butter….I mean really. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The apple and cola help add a little sweetness. The butter and onion make the juices that you’ll use to baste the turkey so rich. Sometimes we had a little celery or carrots. Tweak the ingredients if you’d like, but this combo is fantastic.

A close up of a whole smoked turkey

What is the best smoker for smoked turkey?

We’ve done smoked turkeys two ways:

  1. Electric Smoker: We had a Masterbuilt smoker when we first started smoking meat. It worked great! It was small and easy to take care of, but could easily hold two turkeys. See the one we had here.
  2. Pellet Smoker: This summer, we upgraded to a Traeger wood pellet smoker. My husband is 100% in love with this grill. Not only does it easily smoke meat, but it grills up hamburgers and chicken beautifully too. See the grill we love.

What flavor wood chips for smoking turkey?

We like to use wood chips with a slightly sweet flavor such as apple, apricot, cherry, peach or maple. Hickory is stronger but is always a classic and gives an even smoky flavor! Mesquite also goes well with turkey.

Is basting the turkey really necessary?

If you want the juiciest turkey, then yes, I recommend basting. The skin and the foil help to keep the turkey juicy on its own, but since you’ll have to be checking on the turkey in the smoker a few times anyway, go ahead and baste it. You won’t regret it.

A close up of smoked turkey

How long does it take to smoke a turkey?

It’s good to plan 30 minutes per pound when you smoke a turkey between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Our turkey was 13 pounds and took about 7 hours in the smoker to reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

**We LOVE our Thermoworks ThermaPen to quickly test meat temperatures. This probe thermometer is AMAZING.  Get it here.**

A close up of food, with thanksgiving turkey

What To Serve with Turkey

Have leftovers? Try this turkey casserole! And if you like this recipe, you may also like our whole smoked chicken.

Best Smoked Turkey Recipe in the smoker
Best Smoked Turkey Recipe in the smoker

Best Smoked Turkey Recipe

4.70 from 175 votes
Ever wondered how to smoke a juicy turkey? This is the best smoked turkey recipe we’ve tried. Free up the oven and learn how to smoke turkey stuffed with fruit and aromatics for an amazing turkey dinner. 
Servings 15
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes

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Ingredients
 

  • 13 pound whole turkey (thawed)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 24 ounces cola flavored soda pop (We used Coca Cola)
  • 1 large apple (quartered)
  • 1 large onion (quartered)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey, and pat the turkey dry.
  • Rub the minced garlic all over the turkey, then sprinkle the entire outside of the bird with seasoned salt.
  • Place the turkey in a large roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan.
  • Stuff the large cavity of the bird with the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover the turkey loosely with foil.
  • Prepare the smoker and heat to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey in the smoker and baste every 1-2 hours with turkey juices from the pan. 
  • Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the thigh. It’s good to plan 30 minutes per pound when you smoke a turkey between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. This turkey was 13 pounds and took about 7-8 hours to get to temperature. 
  • Remove the turkey from the smoker and allow it to sit, still covered with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing.

Video

Notes

The calories shown are based on the feeding about 15 people, with 1 serving being 1/15 of the turkey. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 217mg | Sodium: 1764mg | Potassium: 667mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2.6mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 479
Keyword how to smoke a turkey, smoked recipes, thanksgiving dinner, turkey dinner
smoked turkey title image

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Dennis Lichti
5 years ago

5 stars
This is the BEST TURKEY Ihave ever cook’ed at 70 years old I’ve had alot of Turkey.

CLS
3 years ago

165 is the safe temp for turkey. At 150, I remove the foil and turn the smoker up to 350 to crisp the skin in that last few minutes. Pull it off at 160 and let it rest for 15 min, residual heat will bring it up to 165. Taking the turkey off at 180 is sure to guarantee a dry breast, which is what most people do. And definitely have to brine. It’s no wonder I only eat the dark meat at other people’s homes!

Last edited 3 years ago by CLS
Jay mercd
5 years ago

5 stars
What if the coke doesn’t stay in the turkey when I pour it and stays around the turkey. Should I drain the come out?

Jerry P
4 years ago

I’m confused about putting foil over the turkey. How does the smoke get to it if it’s covered in foil?

Joseph Alsko
2 years ago

Folks, there are better pellet smokers than Traeger. Do some some research. Don’t just walk into your favorite big box store or hardware store and grab the first Traeger that you see.
I spent a couple of weeks looking at multiple smokers and ended up with a Rec-Tec. It has served me reliably for years and produced some amazing smoked meats and vegetables.

Marci
3 years ago

5 stars
Best turkey I have ever made…and my first on the Traeger! Easy recipe! Basted every two hours and the meat fell off the bone! Skin was perfect!

David Gaddis
3 years ago

5 stars
Thank you for this recipe. My family loved it! “Im now the official turkey cooker from now on”, they said. I used plum wood in an all natural wood smoker! I vented my foil a little more during the smoking process to obtain a more robust smoke flavor, but the foil was absolutely necessary to lock in all that good flavor, and keep it moist. Thanks again. Keep up the good work!

Hussain
5 years ago

5 stars
Excellent recipe. Did that yesterday for Xmas dinner and it was very good
thank you very much for such great recipe

Frank F.
5 years ago

5 stars
How long do I let the coke and ingredients sit in the cavity before I start cooking it? Or is it ok to let it marinate for awhile. And last I don’t inject the turkey at all right? Thank you for your help.

Jamie
5 years ago

5 stars
made this today and it was honestly amazing!!! using it for Christmas dinner!

Anonymous
5 years ago

What kind of apple do you use?

Tyler
5 years ago

So if the turkey is in a oan covered in foil how is it getting exposed to the smoke and getting the flavour of the smoke?

Shawn
5 years ago

5 stars
You ladies are doing an outstanding job! Keep it up!!!

Floyd
5 years ago

5 stars
Can I use a regular wood smoker instead of pellet smoker?

Jeff Imlay
1 year ago

5 stars
I have used this recipe the last two Thanksgivings! It excellent and we use a green egg smoker. Thanks for the great recipe