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Best Smoker for Turkey? These 7 Will Fit Your Whole Bird

10-Seconds on the Best Smoker for Turkey

Most large smokers will fit a whole turkey but these are easier to cook on than others.

Our Single Top Turkey Smoker - Z Grills Multitasker 11002B
Z Grills 11002B Multitasker

This smoker has been chosen because it’s a great mix of features and price. For more smokers that are ideal for turkey, scroll down.

Smoking turkey. We like your idea!

Not only is smoking a turkey one of the best ways to cook it, it tastes absolutely delicious and it frees up your oven for sides and pie.

But, before you get started on the how to, what is the best smoker for turkey? Making sure you’re buying a smoker that will one, fit the whole bird and two, is well suited to cooking this difficult but doable feast is essential.

Whether you’re looking for a new smoker for Thanksgiving, or, just want to check that what you’re about to buy will still do the job come November, you’ve come to the right place.

From simple electric and pellet smokers to traditional charcoal and wood-burning barbecues, our review will guide you through the benefits, and drawbacks of each, to make sure your next turkey-smoking adventure is nothing short of impressive.

Whether you’re a total novice or have a bit of experience under your belt, with the right gear and right approach you really can do incredible smoked turkey at home.

Here you’ll find the best turkey smokers at a range of different budget options so you can find something that suits your smoking style at the right price.

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Table of Contents

Masterbuilt Digital Electric - Best Electric Smoker for Turkey

We’re opening this review of the best smokers for turkey with a cheapie and a goodie, the Masterbuilt 40″ Digital Electric Smoker.

An electric smoker like this is great for turkey because it holds all the moisture, you can even add extra liquid in the water tray, and there’s no real fire to dry your meat out. It’s basically like a huge outdoor oven where you use wood chips for a smoked flavor that’ll really set your turkey apart.

And, our choice of the best electric smoker is this Masterbuilt.

Affordable and effective, the larger 40″ size gives you plenty of space for a whole turkey.

The side loading wood chip port lets you add that all important smoke (which you’ll need to do every 30 minutes for the first while) without opening the main door, disrupting the heat.

There’s a water tray for you to add more moisture for further insurance against the turkey drying out. But, this style of smoker plus the good gasket around the cooking chamber door does a great job of holding all the natural juices in anyway.

The heating element is large enough to heat this amount of space well.

The Masterbuilt Digital Electric is a great choice for a turkey smoker you can just leave low and slow to do it’s thing all Thanksgiving Day.

Specs for the Masterbuilt 40 Inch Digital Electric Smoker

Barbecue type: Digital electric smoker

Barbecue material: Insulated steel

Grate material:Chrome-coated wire

Cooking capacity: 970 sq. in.

Heat Range: 180-450°F

WiFi: No

Electricity required: Yes

Price guide: $

Model: MB20072918 or 140B

Assembled size (in): 20″ W x 41.3″ H x 19.9″ D

Weight: 58 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Pros of the 40" Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

  • Lots of moisture: Electric smokers keep the moisture in which reduces the chance of drying out your turkey.
  • Ample cooking space: Remove 2 racks and you should fit 2 large whole turkey’s on the remaining to racks.
  • Consistent Heat: Digital control panel and good heating element provide consistent and even heat distribution.
  • Set-and-Forget Operation: Apart from adding wood chips for the first few hours, you can leave this smoker to cook without babysitting it.
  • Wood Chip Loading System: The side port wood chip loading system makes Masterbuilt electric smokers so much better than the rest! You can add smoky flavor without disrupting the cooking process.
  • Cheap: This huge smoker is one of the cheapest out there and will do a great job of turkey.

Cons of the 40" Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker

  • Limited Authentic Smoke Flavor: Electric smokers don’t give the same depth of smoke as pellet, wood or charcoal smokers.
  • You Need Electricity: You need a power source to operate an electric smoker.
  • Longer Smoking Time: Electric smokers generally take more time to smoke than some other types of smokers. So, expect your turkey to take a little longer to cook.
  • No Meat Probes Included: We do recommend using a meat thermometer to check your turkey is perfectly and properly cooked. Here’s our favorite wireless models so you don’t have to open the door to check it’s done.

Traeger Ironwood XL - Best Pellet Smoker for Turkey

It’s no secret that cooking a turkey isn’t the easiest thing to do. So, when it comes to my smoker of choice, I prefer pellet.

The flavor you get from the 100% hardwood pellet fire is distinctive without being overwhelming. The automated temperature control means you can literally turn it on, put the turkey in and walk away. And, most also have built-in temperature probes so you can monitor EXACTLY what’s going on inside that turkey without trying to eyeball it or judge it’s progress on time alone (which isn’t always going to cut it).

If budget isn’t a question, the all-new Traeger Ironwood XL is incredible for turkey.

This top of the line pellet smoker gives you a huge 924 square inches of cooking space.

Now, because a whole turkey is so tall, you’ll have to take the top rack out. But, that’ll still give you enough room for 3 – 4 turkeys depending on how large they are.

You won’t have to think about temperature control with Traeger’s latest Smart Combustion™ technology. And, the whole smoker has a fully insulated dual-wall design to reduce temperature fluctuation and improve fuel efficiency in those cooler Fall months.

But, the features definitely don’t end there.

The Traeger Ironwood XL also gives you WiFIRE® for complete remote control via your smartphone, 2 wired meat probes to watch your turkey progress, Super Smoke Mode and Downdraft Exhaust® for an even smokier flavor and a full color touchscreen.

But, if the new Traeger Ironwood XL is out of your budget and you still want the brand name, there’s the smaller Traeger all-new Ironwood that’ll fit 2 turkeys, the cheaper 2 turkey Ironwood 650 or the more basic Traeger Pro 575 which will fit 2 turkeys as well.

All of these Traeger grills will make smoking a turkey really easy, giving you all of the credit and none of the headache.

Specs for the Traeger Ironwood XL

Barbecue type: Wood pellet grill and smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel

Cooking capacity: 924 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 22 lbs

Heat range: 150 – 500°F +

WiFi: Yes

Fuel type: Wood pellet

Electricity required: Yes

Model: Ironwood XL

Dimensions: 70″(W) x 25″(D) x 48″(H)

Weight: 232 lbs

Warranty: 10 years

Pros of the Traeger Ironwood XL:

  • Extra Large Cooking Area: The XL size gives you enough space to smoke 3 – 4 turkeys at once. Or, 1 turkey and your sides.
  • Wood Pellet Flavor: 100% hardwood pellets give you a beautifully smoked but not overwhelmingly flavor. And, this Traeger Ironwood XL has Super Smoke mode and Downdraft Exhaust for better taste and more control over smoke levels.
  • Full insulation: The dual-wall design means your smoker will be less effected by not so great Fall weather giving you improved fuel efficiency.
  • WiFire Wireless Connectivity: Using Traeger’s awesome app, you can see and change any of the settings on your smoker without going outside.
  • Includes 2 Meat Probes: These plug into the control panel so you can see exactly how done your turkey is to. You’ll never overcook or undercook that bird again.

Cons of the Traeger Ironwood XL:

  • Cost: Traeger grills, especially the larger models like the Ironwood XL, are some of the more expensive smokers on the market. But, check out the cheaper Traeger alternatives mentioned above that will still do a top job of turkey. Or, check out the Z Grills alternative below.
  • Only 2 Probe Ports: If you’re cooking more than 2 cuts of meat you can’t plug in more than 2 probes so you’ll need a separate unit or to move your probes around. These are our favorite wireless models for smoking.
  • Electricity Dependency: Although you’re burning wood pellets, Traeger grills do require electricity to run the control panel, auger and fan so you need to have power outside for this grill.

Z Grills Multitasker 11002B - Best Cheaper Pellet

If you like the sound of using a pellet smoker for turkey is but don’t want to spend a Traeger amount, we’ve got good news for you, you don’t have to.

The Z Grills Multitasker 11002B rivals the Traeger Ironwood XL but is a fraction of the cost.

The overall quality isn’t quite as good as you get with Traeger. But, we’ve been using Z Grills smokers for years and can attest to just how good they are to use and, how great the food they make can be.

This model is the best Z Grills smoker on the market.

With it you’ve got a huge 1,068 square inches of cooking space to easily fit 4 turkeys. There’s a massive 28 pound hopper that will run this thing at smoking temperatures for up to 28 hours.

Just like the Traeger Ironwood, you’ve got a fully insulated dual-wall body. There’s WiFi and 2 meat probes for complete remote control. The updated PID temperature controller keeps the heat spot on and there’s a Super Smoke mode for a more woody flavor if you want it to.

This baby is just packed with features and at this price, it’s hard to ignore!

But, if the Z Grills Multitasker is still more than you wanted to spend, there is the smaller Multitasker 7052B which will still a couple of turkeys.

Also, check out our full Z Grills review. We check out their whole range, all of which will fit at least 1 full sized turkey (except for their smallest portable model that is).

Specs for the Z Grills ZPG Multitasker 11002B Pellet Smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material:  Porcelain-coated steel

Cooking capacity: 1,068 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 28 lbs

Heat Range: 160-500°F

WiFi: Yes

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Electricity required: Yes

Model: 11002B Multitasker

Assembled size (in): 57 L × 32 W × 47 H

Weight: 192 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Pros of the Z Grills Multitasker 11002B:

  • Extra Large Cooking Area: This huge smoker can do 3 – 4 turkeys at a time. Or, throw on just 1 turkey plus your sides.
  • Hardwood Pellet Flavor: The 100% fire leaves your turkey beautifully smoked without having a super strong overwhelming flavor. But, if you like it smokier, you’ve got Super Smoke mode too. 
  • Full body insulation: The double-wall design keeps the temperature steady even when it’s cold out, improving your fuel efficiency and lowering running costs.
  • WiFi Connectivity: See exactly how your cook is going while you’re inside chatting away or enjoying appetizers.
  • Comes with 2 Meat Probes: Plug the probes directly into the control panel to take the guesswork out of perfectly smoked turkey.

Cons of the Z Grills Multitasker 11002B:

  • More Basic Quality: The build quality of this smoker is perfectly fine and should last you years with proper care. But, it’s not the top of the line like Traeger is.
  • Only 2 Meat Probe Ports: You’ll more than likely be smoking more than 2 cuts of meat on this huge smoker but there’s only 2 smoke ports. If you want to monitor more cuts than this, you’ll need a separate meat thermometer. These are our favorite wireless models for smoking.
  • Needs Electricity: This smoker, like all pellet smokers needs electricity to run so you’ll need an outlet outside where you’re planning on cooking. Or run an extension lead.

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal - Best Charcoal Smoker for Turkey

There’s something about charcoal smoked meat… If that’s the flavor you want for your Thanksgiving turkey, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 will give you exactly that without the hassle that charcoal usually means.

How can charcoal smoking be easy you ask?

With their Gravity Series of Digital Charcoal Smokers, Masterbuilt have pretty much merged pellet smoking with charcoal as a fuel. They’ve even thrown WiFi in for remote control too.

To use it you manually light the charcoal, set the temperature on the digital control panel and the fan will regulate the air intake to keep your charcoal putting out a stable amount of heat.

It works impressively well and the temperature stays spot on with a large hopper to give you 10-12 hours of low and slow smoking without needing to refill it.

The smallest model in the Gravity Series gives you a 430 square inch bottom rack with 130 square inches of warming racks. Take the top two out and you’ve got enough space to sit a whole turkey on the reversable cast iron grates. Or, grab yourself the Rotisserie Kit pictured above for the ultimate turkey smoking setup.

There’s also the upsized Masterbuilt Gravity Series 1050 if you want to do sides at the same time. The rotisserie kit works with that too.

Either way, this smoker makes some great food. And, it actually gets hot enough that you can grill as well.

The quality of this affordable smoker is pretty average but the food is not.

Specs for the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Reversable cast iron bottom grates with porcelain-coated steel warming racks

Cooking capacity: 560 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity:10 lbs. of lump charcoal or 16 lbs. of briquettes

Heat Range: 150-700°F

WiFi: Yes

Fuel type: Charcoal

Electricity required: Yes

Model: Gravity Series 560

Price guide: $$

Assembled size (in): 54 L × 24 D × 52 H

Weight: 147 lbs

Warranty: 1 year

Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill and Smoker
The quality of the Masterbuit Gravity Series 560 is pretty decent

Pros of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560:

  • Very Steady Temperature Control: Digital controller does an impressively great job of keeping the heat right where you want it.
  • Rotisserie Kit Available: Turn this smoker into a turkey rotisserie with the optional add-on.
  • Charcoal Flavor: Gives a light charcoally flavor without being overwhelming.
  • WiFi Connectivity: Operate the grill from your smartphone and see exactly how cooked your turkey is with the included meat probe.
  • Also Grills and Sears: This barbecue can get up to 700°F which is well hot enough for great grilling and searing after turkey time.

Cons of the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560:

  • Hard to Start: Manually lighting this smoker is difficult. We recommend using a propane blow torch or choose one of our favorite electric charcoal starters.
  • Average Quality: This cheaper barbecue isn’t the best quality and is prone to rusting. Follow Masterbuilt’s care instructions.
  • Needs Electricity: Unlike most charcoal smokers, you need access to electricity to run the digital control panel and fan.

Camp Chef Vertical XXL Pro Smoker - Biggest Smoker for Turkey

The Camp Chef XXL Pro Smoker must be one of the best value for money models based on it’s size.

Boasting a huge 1,806 square inches of cooking space inside a precise PID controlled cooking chamber, you can cook turkey for a crowd in here!

It’s vertical design means it won’t take up a huge amount of space in your backyard. They’ve added down and out ventillation to create very even heat distribution throughout. And, with WiFi you can control it all remotely too.

This smoker is a vertical pellet barbecue. So, it does burn hardwood pellets and needs electricity. But, one of the coolest things about the Camp Chef XXL Pro is that it gives you more control when it comes to how smoky you want your meat to be.

How does it do this when other pellet smokers don’t?

Firstly, you can set the smokiness of your pellets on a scale from 1 through to 10. But, it’s also got a cool Smoke Box where you can add charcoal, wood chunks or wood chips to customize your flavor even more.

Specializing in low and slow smoking, the Camp Chef XXL gives you the ability to be a bit more creative while still having the ease of set and forget smoking.

Perfect for turkey. But, it’ll get a good lot of use year round too.

Specs for the Camp Chef XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker

Fuel type: Hardwood pellets

Electricity required? Yes

Barbecue material: Dual layered stainless steel door

Grate material: Unspecified

Cooking capacity: 1,806 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 30 lbs

Temperature range: 150-300°F

Price guide: $$$


Dimensions: 55(H) x 24(W) x 15.5(D)

Weight: 145 lbs

Warranty: 3 years 

Pros of the Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Smoker:

  • Ample Cooking Space: The XXL Pro Vertical Smoker gives you lots of space with multiple, adjustable racks allowing you to smoke large turkeys or multiple birds at the same time.
  • Precise Temperature Control: The PID digital temperature control system accurately maintains your set temperature for set and forget smoking.
  • Customizable Smoke Flavor: You’re starting with hardwood pellet smoke but can add charcoal, wood chunks or woodchips to the Smoke Box for more control over smokiness and flavor.
  • WiFi Control: Set, operate and watch your cook from your smartphone.
  • Includes 2 Meat Probes: No extra meat thermometer required to monitor your turkey’s temperature and get it cooked just right.

Cons of the Camp Chef XXL Pro Vertical Smoker:

  • Dedicated Smoker Only: The low and slow temperature range means that there’s no grilling on this one.
  • Requires Electricity: It’s a pellet smoker that needs electricity to run.

Kamado Joe Big Joe II 24” - Best Kamado for Turkey

Big, bold and capable of pretty much anything, it’s not surprising that the Kamado Joe Big Joe II can cook a mouthwatering turkey too.

The 24″ cooking grate is large enough for a whole or spatchcocked turkey.

Set up an indirect cook with your included heat deflector, pop your brined turkey in and leave your Joe to do it’s thing.

The charcoal flavor you’ll get from smoking a turkey on the Big Joe is really nice by itself. But, throw in some wood chunks if you want a woodier taste.

With 360° heat  radiating down onto your bird, the Kamado Joe gives you the most delicious, crispy turkey skin. It’s the best part of the whole thing.

But, you’ve also got the option of getting the additional Big JoeTisserie which is featured in the video above. With this you can set up a direct cook over the coals which dare I say, takes that turkey skin up yet another notch.

After Thanksgiving the grill expanders plus Divide and Conquer cooking system on the Big Joe give you the flexibility to grill, bake, sear, smoke or roast anything from steaks and sausages to macaroni cheese, pizzas, breads and desserts too.

You’ve got all the incredible Kamado Joe features too including the Air Lift Hinge to reduce the dome weight, a weatherproof Kontrol tower, industry-leading gasket and innovative 6 piece firebox design.

Build the Big Joe into your outdoor kitchen, or, go for the stand-alone version.

If you’re a bit unsure about going Big, a turkey up to about 18 pounds will fit on the smaller 18″ Kamado Joe Classic too.

Either way, this ‘cue will be a gift to yourself that’ll keep giving in the best way for years to come.

Specs for the Kamado Joe Big Joe II 24"

Barbecue material: Glazed ceramic

Grate material: 304 stainless steel

Cooking capacity: 452 sq. in. in basic setup, 604 sq. in. with grill expander, 904 sq. in. with 2 sets of grates or 1,056 sq. in. with 2 sets of grates and expander

Fuel type: Charcoal

Heat Range: 225°F – 750°F

Model: Big Joe II

Dimensions: 50″ W x 54″ H x 31″ D

Weight: 250lbs

Warranty: Lifetime on ceramics, 5 years on metal parts, 3 years on heat deflector and pizza stone, 1 year on thermometer and gasket

Pros of the Kamado Joe Big Joe II:

  • Large Cooking Area: The Big Joe offers a 24″ wide cooking surface, suitable for smoking a large spatchcocked turkey.
  • Excellent Heat Retention: The thick ceramic walls of the grill retain and distribute heat all the way around your turkey, giving you consistent and efficient smoking plus the most delicious crispy skin. They’re also not bothered by a bit of colder weather.
  • Incredible Flavor: With charcoal as a base, you can also add wood chunks or chips to infuse your turkey with a rich, smoky flavor of your choice, allowing for customization of the flavor profile.
  • Versatile Cooking: In addition to smoking turkey, the Big Joe can be used for grilling, baking, roasting, and searing. You can do anything on this barbecue and, do it well.
  • Durable Construction: Kamado Joe grills are built to last, and the Big Joe is no exception. It’s known for its durability and longevity.

Cons of the Kamado Joe Big Joe II:

  • High Cost: The Big Joe II is one of the most expensive barbecues for turkey. The high price is well worth it. But, if it’s out of your budget, consider the slightly smaller Classic Joe II or the more basic Big Joe I.
  • Learning Curve: Smoking turkey on the Big Joe isn’t as easy as it is on an automated electric or pellet smoker and might take a little bit of practice to get the coals just right.
  • Fuel Consumption: The Big Joe does use a fair bit of charcoal so the running costs are higher than on the smaller KJ Classic II.

Weber Smokey Mountain 22" Cooker - Best Drum

The opening the video above puts it best, smoking a turkey on a Weber kettle, one it shows technique. And two, it’s one of the best turkey’s you can put out there.

What that means is, it’s not easy to smoke a turkey on a Weber Smokey Mountain.

But, if what you crave is control and the satisfaction of actually smoking a turkey yourself without having a digital temperature controller looking after it for you, the 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain is a fan favorite.

The 22″, or 18″ depending on your turkey size, will fit a whole or spatchcocked turkey. Simply set it up with or without a water tray, wait until it hits 300-350°F and use a smoking thermometer to cook until the deepest part of the breast reaches 165°F (see Weber’s full recipe here).

Throughout your cook you’ll be adding charcoal as needed. The separate fuel door is perfect for that because you won’t lose all your heat up top. And, you can also add a few wood chunks if you like an extra woody flavor.

After Thanksgiving, the 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain is large enough and durable enough to handle years and years worth of smoking.

Because of it’s vertical design, it doesn’t take up a lot of space even though it’s got 726 square inches of cooking space.

Made with a porcelain-enameled shell and aluminum dampers, it’s rust-resistant and easy to clean.

With a 10 year warranty and AMAZING reviews from real users, this top rated smoker is a purchase you’ll be thankful for for years to come.

Specs for the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Cooker 22"

Fuel type: Charocal

Electricity required? No

Barbecue material: Porcelain-enameled steel

Grate material: Plated steel

Cooking capacity: 726 sq. in.

Model: 731001

Price guide: $$

Dimensions: 48.5(H) x 23(W) x 24(D)

Weight: 68lbs

Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid, 5 years on plastics and cleaning system, 2 years on remaining parts

Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain 22
Adding charcoal and wood to the Weber Smokey Mountain through separate fuel door

Pros of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:

  • Large Cooking Area: The 22″ model provides a good amount of space for smoking large turkeys or multiple birds at once.Remember you need a little room around your meat for proper airflow.
  • Real Smoking Experience: You get to tend to the fire and control all the variables to really make great Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Authentic Smoke Flavor: The use of charcoal and wood chips or chunks infuses your turkey with an authentic and rich smoky flavor.

Cons of the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker:

  • Hands-On Smoker: You will need to be actively involved in smoking a turkey on the WSM. It’s not set and forget like a lot of the options on this list.
  • Learning Curve: Achieving the best results with the WSM may require some learning, especially for those new to charcoal smoking.
  • Dedicated Smoker Only: Although some people to try to modify them, the Weber Smokey Mountain is designed to be a dedicated smoker only. It’s not set up for grilling or searing.
  • Weather Sensitivity: The thinner shell of the WSM means this barbecue is more affected by cold weather, wind and rain. You’ll need to adjust your coals accordingly and might have a harder time in bad weather conditions.

What is the Best Smoker for Turkey?

You can cook great smoked turkey on any smoker that physically can fit a turkey.

But, there are some types of smokers that will be more difficult to smoke a turkey on and some that will be easier.

We prefer using a pellet smoker to smoke a turkey because it’s so easy. The digital temperature controller will precisely regulate the temperature for you and consistent temperatures give good, predictable and repeatable results. The hardwood pellets also, in our opinion, give incredible woody flavor that’s distinctive but not overpowering.

So, when we’re busy on Thanksgiving Day, throwing the whole bird on a pellet smoker and leaving it to cook with a wireless meat thermometer to tell us when it’s done is the easiest way to great food.

In this review of the best smokers for turkey, we’ve recommended 3 different pellet smokers at different price points. You will be able to make great smoked turkey on any of these.

If we had to pick just one smoker to recommend for cooking turkey, we would choose the Z Grills Multitasker 11002B.

This pellet smoker is huge and such a great all rounder. It gives you incredible value for money while fitting a lot of people’s budgets.

Scroll up for more details.

FAQs on the Best Smoker for Turkey

There’s no single perfect temperature to smoke a turkey at. Some people prefer to use a lower and slower temperature of around 225 – 250°F.

An oven based turkey cook is generally done at 375 – 400°F.

And, like you can see in the Kamado Joe turkey on a JoeTisserie video above, you can also successfully cook a turkey over unregulated open hot coals.

We generally smoke a turkey at a hotter 325-350°F. A hotter temperature generally won’t results in a turkey that’s quite as smoky as if it was cooked lower and slower. But, it’s moist and tender with nice crispy skin which is how we like it.

The danger zone for smoked turkey is typically between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C). At this temperature bacteria multiples most effectively, increasing your chance of getting a foodborne illness from eating it.

To avoid the danger zone, always properly defrost your turkey, never try to smoke a frozen or partially frozen turkey and set your smoker temperature outside of this very low temperature range.

The time it takes to smoke a turkey varies based the turkey’s size and your smoker temperature. But, as a general guide, a whole turkey should be smoked in between 2 – 6 hours.

The turkey is ready to come off your smoker when the internal temperature is 160°F (71°C). Then you’ll rest your bird for about 20 minutes where it’ll carry over cook those final few degrees while reabsorbing it’s juices for the most tender meat.

A smoked turkey is best cooked when the internal temperature of the breast is 165°F. Turkey legs are best done a little hotter at 175 – 180°F.

Brining a turkey can help enhance flavor and juiciness. We like to do brine out turkeys before smoking. But, it’s not mandatory.

Whether to use a dry rub or marinade is a matter of personal preference. Both methods can add flavor to the turkey.

We prefer using dry rubs for smoking because any sugar that’s in a marinade can burn on the turkey skin over long smokes, charring it long before you’re at a safe eating temperature.

It’s not advisable to stuff a turkey when smoking it because it can increase cooking time and may not reach safe internal temperatures without overcooking and drying out your bird.

If you want to enjoy stuffing, consider making it separately.

Most smokers, apart from very small tabletop or other portable models should fit at least a single, small turkey.

But, as a guide you should be looking for at least 300 – 400 square inches for a small bird, 400 – 600 square inches for a medium bird, 600 – 800 square inches for a large bird and more than 800 square inches for an extra large one.

In checking that a turkey will fit on your smoker, you’ll also need to pay attention to how tall the inside of the cooking chamber is. Turkey’s require a lot of vertical space as well.

To make sure your smoker will fit a turkey, choose one of the models recommended here in our best smokers for turkey round up.

Yes, not only can you cook turkey in an electric smoker, because an electric smoker holds the moisture in, doing so is one of the best ways to prevent your whole bird from drying out.

Our favorite electric smoker for turkey is the Masterbuilt 40″ Digital Electric. Scroll to the top for more details on this.

Yes, you can cook a turkey in a charcoal smoker. The flavor will be incredible. But, smoking a turkey in a charcoal smoker is generally a more hands-on process as the fire will, depending on your smoker, need frequent tending to to make sure that the temperature stays steady.

If you enjoy a bit of smoker babysitting on Thanksgiving Day, try the Weber Smokey Mountain we discussed above.

Or, for a more hands-off charcoal smoked turkey, check out the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 or the Kamado Joe Big Joe.

We discuss these charcoal turkey smokers in more detail above.

Using a water pan can help regulate the temperature and maintain moisture in the smoking chamber, which is especially beneficial for longer smoking sessions on a charcoal smoker.

You do not need to wrap a turkey while smoking it and most people don’t.

Smoking the turkey without wrapping it allows the skin to become crispy and helps develop a rich, smoky flavor. It can take longer, but the result is often a turkey with beautifully browned skin and a robust smoky taste.

Wrapping the turkey in foil or butcher paper will speed up cooking and help to maintain moisture but it can soften the skin.

Fruitwoods like apple or cherry, and hardwoods like hickory or oak are excellent choices for smoking turkey. The choice of wood affects the flavor, so choose according to your preference.

The best pellet smoke flavor for smoking turkey is really about personal preference. Various wood pellet flavors can complement the turkey’s taste, and you can experiment to find the one you like the most. Here are some popular wood pellet flavors for smoking turkey:

  • Fruitwoods (Apple, Cherry, Peach): These woods impart a sweet and mild fruity flavor to the turkey, adding a touch of sweetness to the meat.
  • Hickory: Hickory is a classic choice for smoking turkey. It provides a robust, smoky flavor that pairs well with poultry.
  • Pecan: Pecan wood pellets offer a mild, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor, which complements turkey nicely without overwhelming it.
  • Maple: Maple pellets add a subtle and sweet flavor, enhancing the turkey’s natural taste.
  • Alder: Alder wood pellets impart a mild, sweet, and slightly earthy flavor, which is particularly popular for smoking lighter meats like turkey.
  • Oak: Oak pellets provide a robust and earthy flavor, which can be a good choice if you want a stronger smoky taste.
  • Mesquite: Mesquite is known for its strong and bold smoky flavor. While it can be overpowering if used in excess, some people enjoy the intensity it brings to smoked turkey.

If you’re using an electric smoker, you’ll need to add wood chips every 30 minutes to an hour, or when the smoke starts to thin out. This will give you the most smoky flavor you can get on this type of smoker.

If you’re using a charcoal based smoker like the Masterbuilt Gravity Series, you’ll distribute some wood chunks throughout your charcoal when you load the hopper and then won’t need to add anything all smoke long. The gravity fed hopper will bring the wood chunks down as it goes.

And, if you’re using a Weber Smoky Mountain, add some wood chunks when your coals are hot. Then, throw some more on every 1 – 2 hours if you see the smoke starting to thin.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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