Turkey in a Smoker

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Learn how to smoke a turkey with this great recipe. It's nearly impossible to cook a large bird on a barbecue grill so a smoker is best for this. It may not be your traditional holiday turkey, but this moist, tender, hickory-flavored turkey will be surely be met with rave reviews.

A whole smoked turkey sitting on the grates of a smoker
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Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
10 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 20 mins
Servings:
13

This year, opt to smoke your holiday turkey. Why? Smoking results in an aromatic bird with a delicate, smoky flavor and a beautifully tender and juicy texture. Learn how to smoke a turkey, and get our best seasoning and storage tips, right here.

How to Smoke a Turkey

It's easier than you think to make a perfectly smoked turkey. You'll find the full, step-by-step recipe below — but here's a brief overview of what you can expect:

Rinse and Rub Turkey

Rinse the turkey in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the entire turkey with crushed garlic, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the turkey in an aluminum roasting pan.

Stuff the Turkey

(Note: The turkey should already be clean, with the neck and giblets removed). Stuff the hollowed cavity with butter, cola, apple, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover the seasoned and stuffed turkey loosely with foil.

Smoke the Turkey

Add wood chips to the smoker according to the manufacturer's directions and place the covered turkey in the pre-heated smoker. Smoke the turkey, basting regularly, until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink at the bone.

How Long to Smoke a Turkey

How long to smoke a turkey depends on multiple factors, including the size of the turkey and the type of smoker. When you cook it according to this recipe, a 10-pound turkey should be done in about 5 hours.

You'll know the turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, reads at least 180 degrees F.

At What Temperature Should You Smoke Turkey?

For this recipe, you'll preheat your smoker to 225 to 250 degrees F. Low and slow smoking ensures a juicy texture and perfect flavor.

Can You Smoke a Frozen Turkey?

We don't recommend smoking a frozen turkey, as a frozen bird may not cook evenly (which may cause foodborne illness). Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before smoking.

Learn more: How to Safely Thaw a Frozen Turkey

Seasoning for Smoked Turkey

The outside of this smoked turkey is simply seasoned with garlic and salt. The cavity is stuffed with a variety of ingredients (cola, apple, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper) to infuse the bird with irresistible flavor from the inside out.

Should You Brine a Turkey for Smoking?

When it comes to smoking a turkey, brining is completely optional. The low and slow cooking actually draws the moisture into the turkey instead of out, so you don't need to add anything to keep it juicy. This top-rated recipe doesn't require a brine.

What to Serve With Smoked Turkey

Of course, the smoked turkey will be the star of your holiday table. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't leave room for sides! Peruse these collections to complete your holiday meal:

15 Best Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes
12 Easy Holiday Side Dishes to Save You Time
Our 15 Best Veggie Side Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Explore our entire library of Thanksgiving Side Dishes for more delicious inspiration.

How to Store Smoked Turkey

Store leftover smoked turkey in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat until warmed through in the microwave, in the oven, or on the stove.

Allrecipes Tips and Praise

"I absolutely love this recipe, it is always my family's favorite way of eating our Thanksgiving turkey," says Sabrina Leigh Millward. "It always turns out so juicy with so much flavor!! I love to save the bones and make the best bone broth."

"This was delicious, better than deep-fried," according to MichaelORO. "The skin is perfect, the meat is moist, and the flavor is consistent throughout."

"This was an excellent recipe for smoked turkey," raves Tammy. "The flavors blended together nicely. We smoked it with an apple juice/water mixture. We used a Granny Smith apple in the cavity with the other ingredients. Very little leftovers."

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt

  • ½ cup butter

  • 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans cola-flavored carbonated beverage

  • 1 medium apple, quartered

  • 1 medium onion, quartered

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  • 2 cups hickory wood chips, or more as needed (Optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat a smoker to 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C).

  2. Rinse turkey under cold water, and pat dry.

  3. Rub crushed garlic over the outside of the turkey, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Transfer to a disposable roasting pan.

  4. Fill the turkey cavity with butter, cola, apple, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover turkey loosely with foil.

  5. Add wood chips to the smoker according to the manufacturer's directions. Place the roasting pan in the preheated smoker. Smoke the turkey, basting every 1 to 2 hours with juices from the bottom of the roasting pan, for 5 hours.

  6. Add more wood chips if desired. Continue smoking and basting, until turkey is no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 5 more hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

Tips

I like to use hickory chips or hickory wood in my smoker. Hickory generates a more even smokiness than other woods, and it does not matter whether the wood is green or seasoned.

For best results, maintain a temperature of 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C) while cooking and basting the turkey.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

625 Calories
32g Fat
10g Carbs
71g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 13
Calories 625
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 12g 58%
Cholesterol 225mg 75%
Sodium 1185mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 71g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 85mg 7%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 757mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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