For those who long for the wonderful taste of smoked turkey but forgot about the luxury because of how much it costs in stores, take heart! It’s surprising just how easy and economical it is to make your own smoked turkey at home.
You just have to learn what is the best wood for smoking turkey, how long to smoke a turkey at 275 F, and an example, how long to cook smoked turkey wings. Not only will you enjoy this tempting morsel, but just think how much you’ll impress your friends and family.
Before we talk about how to actually smoke a turkey, let’s see the 3 best wood for smoking turkey and 2 optional wood for smoking turkey.
It’s important to allow yourself plenty of time to smoke the turkey until it is completely cooked. Smoking time depends on the size of the turkey, the distance from the heat, the temperature of the coals, as well as the outside air temperature.
You can roughly estimate about 20 to 30 minutes per pound of turkey, but it’s important to use a meat thermometer to be sure your turkey is thoroughly cooked. The turkey is done when the food thermometer, placed in the inner thigh, reaches 180° F (be sure the thermometer is not touching the bone).
Smoking turkey is always tricky – you want a nice smoky flavor without overcooking it or without drying out the meat. That’s why picking the right wood will help accomplish the perfect taste of the smoked turkey. Turkey is very lean so it could be difficult to smoke it.
Table of Contents
Best Wood for Smoking Turkey
1. Cherry Wood
For many, is the best choice wood for smoking turkey. The flavor of cherry wood produces is light and sweet fruity. It is delicate and not overpowering. It can also be used for barbecuing chicken. It is so beautiful the dark red color on the turkey when it’s smoked with cherry and the lightly sweet flavor is phenomenal…
If you want to add a little bit of complexity to your smoke flavor, then consider adding a touch (and I mean just a touch) of hickory too. This will help add a little bit extra smoke to it and complements the cherry well.
Mildly smoky, somewhat sweet flavor. Maple chips add a sweet, subtle flavor that enhances the flavor of poultry and game birds. Smoke a pork roast with them for a sensational taste experience. Matches well with poultry, ham, cheese, small game birds, and vegetables. Best wood chips for smoking turkey!
Maple hardwood is far more subtle than its other sweet wood counterparts. If cherry sounds too rich or sweet for your tastes then maple is a great alternative for a far slighter flavor profile.
3. Alder Wood
A sweet, musky smoke that is the traditional wood of the Northwest. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds. Traditionally used in the Pacific Northwest to smoke Salmon.
Alder Wood is a non-traditional choice for smoking turkey, that can get you a delicious result.
Most versatile of the hardwoods blending well with most meats. A mild smoke with no aftertaste. Oak gives food a beautiful smoked color. Good with red meat, pork, fish, and big game. RED OAK is good on ribs. Especially good with beef brisket.
The other reason why is good wood for smoking turkey is that introduces a mild smoke flavor that doesn’t overpower the meat. Also burns slowly, which makes it cost-effective.
5 Hickory Woods
The last recommendation for the best wood chips for smoking turkey is Hickory Wood. Represents different flavors of wood from sweet to savory, and heavy bacon flavor. This great flavor works well with pork, ribs, hams, poultry, and beef. These chips should be soaked for 1-2 hours to prevent a bitter taste.
The most common wood used. Good for all smoking, especially pork and ribs but it goes well with turkey too.
Earned the reputation of being the most versatile, it’s more distinct than the other wood chips.
Important points about how to smoke a turkey
Food safety is of primary concern when smoking turkey. Turkey breasts, drumsticks, wings, and whole turkeys are all suited for smoking, although for safety’s sake, stick with whole turkeys that weigh 12 pounds or less. A larger turkey remains in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° F and 140° F for too long.
Do not stuff a turkey destined for smoking. Because smoking takes place at a low temperature, it can take too long for the temperature of the stuffing to reach the required temperature of 165° F, not to mention that smoked stuffing has an undesirable flavor.
You don’t need a smoker; any covered grill will give the same effect. Simply place the turkey breast on the cool side of the grill and use soaked wood chips.
How long to smoke a turkey at 275 °F ?
At 275 degrees F, your turkey will take 20 to 25 minutes per pound. A smoked turkey must reach an internal temperature of 165°F in the breast before being served. Smoking at 300°F takes about 15 – 20 minutes per pound. For a 12-pound turkey with no stuffing, plan on smoking the bird for around 4 hours.
For example, smoking at 250°F takes around 25-30 minutes per pound. A 15-pound turkey will take around 6 hours 30 minutes to 7 hours.
I don’t recommend smoking a bigger turkey than 15 pounds because it can take too long to cook. The turkey will be sitting in the food safety danger zone between 40 – 140F too long and you can really risk the bacteria overgrowing and spoiling your turkey before it is finished.
How to smoke turkey in an Electric Smoker?
If you prefer an actual smoker, water smokers are available in electric, gas, or charcoal model, and all work well. Charcoal smokers have two pans – one for charcoal and one for liquid which creates the moist, hot smoke needed for cooking. These are available wherever barbecue grills are found, but here’s an economical secret: start going to garage sales.
For some reason, smokers seem to be a popular item, possibly because a lot of folks don’t know how to use them. However, as stated above, a smoker is not necessary to get the full, smoky flavor you desire. Unless you’re really into smoking many different things (cooking, not inhaling!), it’s an expense you can do without. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save space.
Check these out on Amazon Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker with 3 Smoking Racks, 30 inch, Black and the other one Char-Broil 12201570-A1 American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Black,Standard.
Smoking a turkey can be long and exhausting, but for the final result, worth all the work. Now you know the 3 best wood for smoking turkey, you know how long to smoke a turkey at 275, and other interesting pieces of information. And… just to have a quick and easy recipe, there is the Best Smoked Turkey Recipe at home step-by-step with a good salad and side dish.
For your delicious smoked turkey, I can recommend my Tostones. After a long work with your turkey, you need a side dish that is fast and simple to make.
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