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 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

4.71 from 177 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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  • 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


  • 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.



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.**


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 JulieJulie Clark

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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4.71 from 177 votes (145 ratings without comment)
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Perri Wilson
7 months ago

If I am doing a turkey brine, is it recommended to cut back on the salt that goes on when smoking it?

Erin Corbin
9 months ago

I was just curious if the Coke gives the turkey a sweet flavor?

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

1 year ago

5 stars
This is a great recipe… I’ve smoked 14 lb’ers the last 2 Thanksgivings and I’m doing it again this year with a 19 lb bird. Like someone else said… this is the only way I’ll ever do turkey from now on! Sooooo juicy mmmmmm

Kellye Bauer
2 years ago

Hello, has anyone used this recipe with a spatchcocked turkey? Just wondering how you did it? Did you put on a cookie sheet type pan so contain the juices? What was your cook time? Any pointer appreciated.
Thank you

Brian E.
2 years ago

Going to give it my first crack this year at smoking. Could I add stuffing to the neck area while smoking it?

2 years ago

5 stars
Great recipe. There was almost nothing left with my family this year.

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.

Michael Ramos
2 years ago

5 stars
I made this Turkey and it is truely a great recipe. I carved the Turkey up ahead of time and placed it back in the cooking juices, covered it and refrigerated until I was ready to reheat and serve. I also strained the cooking liquid before adding Turkey back to it. It was so moist and flavorful. Everyone loved it. I used my Rectec smoker with foil cover but basically just resting on top of the Turkey and bent around it without sealing it to the side of the pan. Worked perfectly!

Michael Harris
2 years ago

Does the turkey go in the smoker with the coke In it?

2 years ago

5 stars
What wood (flavor) is best to use in my electric smoker, I have several different kinds but haven’t cooked Turkey enough to know which flavor to use?

Faith Phillips
2 years ago

Will this recipe work for a 25 pound turkey? I have a large family.

Richard A Rockhill
3 years ago

Do you just pour the cola in the cavity?

Katie Divine
3 years ago

First of all this turkey tastes amazing. We made it for Thanksgiving and everyone was raving. However, our cook time was much longer than stated here. We had a 9 pound turkey. At half hour per pound it should have been done by 5. It didn’t get done until 8pm so super late dinner. And that was with turning the heat up a few times. We also pulled it off when it reached 160 then let it rest for the other 5 degrees. We are making it again for tonight and it is smoking as I type this. I gave… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Katie Divine
Lisa Carson
3 years ago

Did you use moistened chips or dry chips? Also how often do you check the chips? This will be my first time smoking. I have an electric smoker. Thank you

Mark Salo
3 years ago

5 stars
I didn’t have a Coke so I just used chicken stock and it came out beautifully! This was my first time smoking a turkey and I couldn’t have been happier. This is the only way I will ever make a turkey anymore.