Best Wood for Smoking a Turkey – Enhance the Taste to Perfection.

best wood for smoking a turkey

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Smoking turkey is a traditional method of cooking that has been used for many generations. Because of the delicious and unique flavor it gives to the meat, it is a popular choice. Smoking turkey is a great option, whether you’re preparing for a holiday meal or special occasion or just want to experiment with new cooking techniques. The smoky flavor comes from infusing the turkey with the flavors of the wood used in the smoking process. 

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Which one is the best wood for smoking a turkey?
  • The benefits of smoking a turkey
  • The basics of smoking a turkey
  • And more!

Why Smoke a Turkey?

turkey in a smoker

If you’re looking for a new way to prepare a traditional turkey dinner, smoking it is sure to add an unforgettable flavor. Not only that, there are several reasons why you should consider smoking a turkey:

  • Unique flavor:

Smoking a turkey is the perfect choice for anyone looking to add an exquisite depth of flavor to their meal. Unlike other cooking methods, smoking infuses the turkey with unique flavors from whatever type of wood you choose during the process – creating a taste that is nearly impossible to replicate! So if you’re aiming for something truly special and yummy this time around, smoke your turkey and prepare yourself for some serious deliciousness.

  • Moist and tender meat:

Smoking a turkey guarantees the perfect balance between moistness, tenderness, and flavor. The slow-cooking process works in harmony with smoke to create an exquisite meal that your guests will enjoy. You can surely delight everyone’s taste with smoked turkey on the table.

juicy smoked turkey meat
  • Versatile cooking method:

Smoking a turkey is a versatile cooking method, letting you customize your culinary experience with just the right spices and marinades. Not only that, but different woods can also be used for smoking, which makes the meal even more unique. With this cooking method, you have free reign to create something truly tailored to your taste preferences!

Best wood for smoking a turkey

bbq woods

The best woods for smoking a turkey can make the difference between a good and a perfectly smoked turkey. By opting for certain types of wood and adjusting the amount used appropriately during smoking, you can modify your turkey’s flavor profile and tantalize anyone at your table. Whether you’re an experienced smoker or just beginning this culinary journey, understanding which woods bring out the best in poultry will surely take your meal from good to great.


Applewood is a mild, sweet wood perfect for those wanting to introduce subtle, fruity tastes into their turkey. Whether you’re new to smoking or simply enjoy the natural taste of the bird itself, Applewood provides just enough flavor without overpowering it. So if you want an easy-to-work-with wood that won’t become too intense in your recipes – Applewood is certainly worth considering! It is for sure one of the best wood for smoking a turkey.


cherry wood

Cherrywood offers an abundance of sweet, fruity flavor that surpasses even the deliciousness of applewood. Perfect for adding a delightful sweetness to your turkey without overwhelming its natural taste- this wood is widely used in smoking poultry and other meats due to its versatile qualities.

It’s well-balanced, with just enough aroma to work seamlessly with it while still delighting your guests’ palates. For those looking for these characteristics, cherrywood is one of the best wood for smoking a turkey.


Mesquite wood is the ideal choice for those who want to add a robust, southwestern flair to their turkey. This wood imparts an intense flavor that will tantalize even the boldest taste buds. Be aware, though: mesquite can be overwhelming; thus, it’s important to use it judiciously and combine it with more delicate woods in order to balance out its potency.


Pecan is a gentle, nutty wood that brings out the sweetness of your turkey and adds a mellow smokiness. You’ll get all the flavor without overpowering it – subtle yet delicious! Perfect for creating an exquisite balance between savory notes and delicate aromas. Pecan makes a great option if you’re looking to add milder flavors to your turkey since it’s simple enough to use but still imparts unique spiced flavors into every bite.


If you want to impart a robustly smoky flavor to your turkey without obscuring the natural taste, oak is the way to go. This classic wood for smoking imparts bold and spicy flavors that are perfect for those who enjoy adding their own spices or other woods during smoking. With its versatility, oak will help you expand and customize your grilling experience!

Related >> Why use wood for grilling instead of charcoal?

Preparing the Turkey

Now that you’ve chosen the optimal wood for smoking your turkey, it’s time to cook! Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

Brine the Turkey:

turkey brine

Brining is ideal for infusing your meat with flavor and ensuring its tenderness. To brine a turkey, mix salt, water, and any additional flavors of your choice (such as Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Savory, or others) in a large container before submerging the bird for several hours or overnight before smoking. With this simple process completed, you’ll be left with remarkably succulent smoked poultry!

Apply a Rub:

Give your turkey an extra kick of flavor by creating a rub! Mix together spices, herbs, and other seasonings to create the perfect blend that will make your smoked turkey even more mouthwatering. With this easy-to-make rub applied before smoking, you’ll be able to savor every bite with an intensified taste sensation.

Smoke at Low Heat:

To guarantee that your turkey remains succulent and doesn’t end up over or underdone, smoking it at a low temperature is the way to go. As a general rule of thumb, 225°F should be an ideal choice when you’re using any smoker–of course, this will depend on variables such as type of smoker, size, and weight of the turkey.

Use a Meat Thermometer:

meat thermometer in a turkey

To guarantee your turkey is cooked, it’s essential to take its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. According to the USDA guidelines, an internal reading of at least 165°F ensures that your turkey has been fully cooked and is safe for consumption!

Read more >> How long to let a turkey rest?

Smoking Turkey in an Electric Smoker

Cooking with an electric smoker is a convenient and easy way to smoke your turkey. Here are a few tips for smoking a turkey in an electric smoker:

If you’re searching for a quick and effortless way to smoke your turkey, an electric smoker is a great option. Here are some simple tricks to get the perfect smoked turkey with that classic smoky flavor every time:

  • Choose the Right Smoker

Shopping for an electric smoker requires thoroughly considering size, capacity, temperature range, and control features. Finding one with the right interior space to fit your turkey is essential, so select one with enough room!

Additionally, consider smokers equipped with a temperature range perfect for smoking – this will ensure tasty results every time.

  • Fill the Water Pan

Before you begin smoking with an electric smoker, don’t forget to fill the water pan included in it. This is important as it helps regulate the temperature and adds the necessary moisture for a tasty result every time!

  • Load the Wood Chips 

Electric smokers rely on wood chips to infuse a burst of flavor into your smoked delicacies. Carefully choose the type of wood chip you want to use based on its unique flavor profile, and then load it according to the instructions provided by your smoker’s manufacturer.

  • Set the Temperature 

Once you have filled your smoker with wood chips, set it to the desired cooking temperature of around 225°F for best results.

  • Monitor the Internal Temperature 

Monitor the heat of your turkey with a meat thermometer and cook it until its internal temperature has risen to 165°F.

Can You Freeze Smoked Turkey?

sliced smoked turkey

Absolutely, you can freeze smoked turkey! Yet to keep it tasting amazing and fresh, you’ll need to adhere to a few key tips.

  • Allow the Turkey to Cool: After smoking, it is important that the turkey be allowed to cool before freezing to halt bacteria growth and maintain freshness. This will guarantee your turkey stays as tasty as possible!
  • Wrap the Turkey Tightly: Securely wrapping the turkey in plastic wrap or aluminum foil is vital to maintain its quality and flavorsome taste; it will also help prevent freezer burn.
  • Store the Turkey at optimal temperatures: To ensure your turkey stays fresh and flavorful, store it in the coldest part of the freezer. It’s best to keep the temperature here below 0°F for optimal results.
  • Label the Package: Mark the container with both its freezing date and its contents for easy inventory tracking of your frozen goods.

How Long Should You Smoke a Turkey?

done smoked turkey

To ensure a deliciously smoked turkey, several factors must be taken into consideration when determining the appropriate amount of smoking time. These include the size (weight) of your turkey, desired smokiness level, and cooking temperature.

As an approximate guide for each pound of turkey, you should expect about 30 minutes in total smoke time. However, to guarantee a fantastic result, here is what you should do.

Cooking Temperature: For a juicy, succulent turkey with a golden-brown crust, smoking your bird at 225°F is the ideal temperature. Not only will it cook evenly and deliciously, you’ll also delight in its delectable flavor!

Weight of the Turkey: Smoke your turkey easily by following the simple rule of 30 minutes per pound. For instance, if you have a 12-pound bird, it should take roughly 6 hours to get that perfect smokey flavor. Using this time frame will make sure that you end up with succulent and delicious results!

However, don’t forget to use a meat thermometer to make sure that your turkey is done. The internal temperature of a turkey should reach 165F to be considered safe to eat.

Level of Smoke Flavor: When it comes to the smokiness of your turkey, each palate is unique! Some may savor a light flavor, while others enjoy something more substantial. To tailor that taste specifically for you and yours, the longer you smoke your bird, the stronger those flavorful notes will become, but also make sure to use the best woods for smoking a turkey for your taste.


Ultimately, smoking a turkey is a delicious way to prepare this traditional dish. When selecting the wood, it’s essential to consider how each type adds depth and dimensions to the flavor -The best woods for smoking a turkey include: Applewood, Cherrywood, Mesquite, Pecan, and Oak.

With electric smokers in particular, it’s vital that you monitor every step of preparation so that your turkey reaches perfection while being safely cooked through. Fortunately, with smoked turkeys, leftovers can be frozen as long as they meet safe storage guidelines – giving you even more time to enjoy these delectable dishes!

By following these guidelines and tips, you’ll be able to create a delicious and flavorful smoked turkey that will be the star of your next meal. Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or a beginner, smoking a turkey is a fun and easy way to impress your friends and family. Happy smoking!

Read more >> Does charcoal go bad?


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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