How To Smoke A Turkey In An Electric Smoker


How To Smoke A Turkey In An Electric Smoker?

Smoking a turkey is a very popular way to cook this holiday favorite. Before the electric smoker was introduced, smoking a turkey required keeping the fire stoked to keep the smoke coming and making sure that it didn’t overcook.

Now there is no need for all of this because we have electric smokers. With an electric smoker, you can set it and forget it. Adjust your temperature and let your turkey smoke away without worrying about overcooking or burning the fire. In this article, we will look at how to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker.

How To Smoke A Turkey In An Electric Smoker

What is an electric smoker?

An electric smoker is a great alternative to smoking on a gas and charcoal grill. They operate like an oven and use electricity instead of propane or briquettes to heat the chip pan. An electrical heating element heats the wood chips, which then produce smoke that flavors your food.

Electric smokers typically come in two styles: vertical and cabinet. Both styles cook at about the same temperature (225 degrees Fahrenheit), but they both work differently, so we will go into more detail below about each one.

Vertical Style Electric Smoker The vertical style of electric smoker has horizontal racks that you can place food on top of or meat underneath other pieces of meat. There are 2 reasons why you may want to put another piece of meat underneath it is to catch drippings or put something heavy like a brick on top of it to create more pressure and make the meat cook faster.

There are 2 reasons why you may want to put another piece of meat underneath it is to catch drippings or put something heavy like a brick on top of it to create more pressure and make the meat cook faster. Vertical electric smokers require less work than cabinet models, but they also take up about twice as much space in your yard or garage when not in use.

Cabinet Style Electric Smoker A traditional style electric smoker known as the cabinet style comes with one large smoking chamber so you can smoke larger amounts of food at once. Cabinets work by utilizing convection heat, which means that instead of heating the air, they heat the metal walls of the smoker.

The heated metal then heats your food by making contact with it, so all you have to do is set your temperature and time and leave it alone. This style of smoker is a great option for people who want an easy way to smoke meat without having to tend the fire constantly. A cabinet will typically cook at around 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 hours before you need to refill the chip pan with more wood chips.

How to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker?

Choose a good turkey

For those of you who have been waiting all year for this moment, now is the time to shine! When buying a turkey for smoking it is important to think about the kind of experience you want and how much money that experience will cost.

If you’re looking to buy a commodity bird that tastes pretty similar to what most people are used to already then we would recommend going with Butterball which comes pre-brined and injected with broth and other flavors. Butterball makes great-tasting turkey but their biggest downside is they don’t give any options besides size (18 pounds or larger) so if you like hot smoked turkeys (140 degrees or higher) then this one isn’t for you unless you make sure to order early enough to get the smaller ones.

For those who are looking for something more traditional, we would direct you towards Broad Breasted White turkeys. These are the only commercially available turkeys that have been bred to have large breasts so they can be roasted in ovens easily. If you want a turkey with crispy skin and moist meat then these are your best option because of its natural fat content. This is also why they’re great for smoking because even though they aren’t injected or brined, they still turn out super juicy.

If you want to try the wild game for this year’s Thanksgiving then look no further than the Midget White turkey. This breed has an average weight between 11-17 pounds which makes it perfect because it won’t take forever to smoke and won’t be too expensive either. If you’re looking for a unique presentation at your Thanksgiving dinner then this might just be the bird for you!

Finally, if you have some really wealthy friends or family members then we would recommend going with a Tom Turkey. These are basically wild gobblers left behind in the wilderness which is why they tend to taste a bit more intense than their Broad Breasted White counterparts. People who love dark meat will love these because they have so much of it but people who prefer white meat probably won’t want to buy these unless they can get them fresh (not frozen) because commercial turkey farming practices make the leg muscles weak resulting in less dark meat.

Thaw the turkey

You can either thaw your turkey in the fridge or in a cold water bath. We would recommend defrosting it by putting it in a shallow pan and submerging it in cold water that you change out every 30 minutes. This way, your turkey will be thawed within 2-3 hours depending on its weight.

If you’re pressed for time then we suggest just buying your turkey already frozen and smoking it as is but if you do decide to take the risk of smoking a giant block of ice then make sure you keep the temperature at 175 degrees throughout the cooking process!

Brine the turkey

Brining your Thanksgiving bird is essential for getting the perfect flavor and the perfect texture. It’s surprising how much of a difference brining makes considering you’re just soaking your turkey in saltwater but don’t worry, it doesn’t make your meat taste like ocean water or anything like that!

All you need to do is put about 3 gallons of cold water into a big pot and then add 1 cup of sea salt, ½ cup of white sugar, ¼ cup of black pepper, 2 tablespoons thyme, 2 tablespoons sage, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder. After this has dissolved together turn on the heat to low-medium heat so it starts cooling off. When it’s cool enough to touch without being burned poke a hole in one end of the turkey. Now slowly submerge the bird in the brine and make sure it sinks to the bottom which indicates that it’s fully submerged. After that, cover your pot with a lid and put it into the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.

After this, pull out your turkey which should be nice and plump! Now all you have to do is rinse off your bird under cold running water which removes any excess salt on its exterior. It doesn’t have to look perfect but try to get off as much of the white gunk you see on there because it will affect how moist your final product is. Finally, pat your turkey dry with paper towels before creating an herb butter mixture consisting of 1 stick of softened unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme and sage, and ½ tablespoon of black pepper. Now just cover the turkey with this and you’re all set!

Season the turkey

Now that you have brined and rinsed your turkey under cold running water all you have to do is season it! This step isn’t as important as brining or smoking because it’s just flavoring the surface of the meat but if you want a good idea of how to season a Thanksgiving bird then we’ve got a recipe for you!

Just combine ½ tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 2 teaspoons sage, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon rubbed marjoram, ¼ teaspoon celery seed, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ tablespoon garlic powder. Then sprinkle this mixture onto both sides of your bird until it has been evenly dusted on all parts. You can also put some underneath the skin if you want your turkey to have an extra punch of flavor.

Smoke the turkey

So you’ve brined, rinsed, and seasoned your giant block of meat which means it’s time to put it in the smoker!

If you don’t have a smoker then we suggest using an electric one especially if this is going to be your first time smoking a turkey. You don’t need anything fancy or complicated because there are only three settings on these machines: low-heat for cooking through the night, medium-heat for making sure it isn’t dry in the morning, and high-heat for when people get hungry. If you’re wondering why we didn’t go over a sauce recipe then that’s because all you really need is some chicken broth sprayed onto the bird every hour or so to ensure that it doesn’t come out as dry as a Thanksgiving turkey.

Now set your smoker up to 225 degrees and try to maintain this temperature throughout the cooking process. When we say try we don’t mean it’s going to be difficult, we just mean that sometimes things can get really hot or really cold and you’ll have to make some adjustments but generally speaking, if it’s smoking then you’re doing great! Keep in mind that an electric smoker will usually shut off once the target temperature is reached so you won’t actually need to adjust anything…

The general rule of thumb with smoking turkeys is that it will take about 45 minutes per pound of turkey. So a 10-pound bird usually takes around 5 to 6 hours and a 15-pound one should go for about 7 hours. The key here is that you shouldn’t use a timer or a piece of string to measure how long it’s been cooking because these tend to break when the bird is roughly halfway done.

There are two ways you can tell when your turkey is ready:

– You can simply check the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer which should be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh

– You could try taking its legs which should wiggle pretty easily when they’re done. If you do this just remember not to grab where the breast meets the leg because it’s closer to the thigh.

After your turkey is done cooking remove it from the smoker and cover it with aluminum foil for at least an hour before carving into it because you want all those juices to stay in there! If you don’t have a cutting board that can fit into the fridge then just place your bird onto a pan covered with aluminum foil as well or you can just carve your turkey right on the cutting board. However, if you’ve brined your bird then do not skip this step because covering a freshly cut turkey will cause a lot of juices to drip out which will ruin its crispy skin. And if you don’t care about its crispy skin then…well, never mind because we don’t even know why we’re talking about this!

Here are some options when carving a chicken or turkey. You can either slice across the whole breast or go against the grain of each cutlet with a sharp knife. Parents should always make sure smaller children aren’t cutting too big of slices while older ones should be able to handle themselves pretty well. For all parties though, make sure you have plenty of napkins nearby in case things get messy! After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is mostly about… making memories with friends and family!

Now it’s time to eat! Your turkey should be juicy, moist, and delicious. Whether you’ve brined or not make sure you let everyone know how amazing your bird is! Remember that this isn’t just a Thanksgiving tradition but also the only time of year where people will actually thank you for cooking up something that tastes as good as it does which gives you all the more reason to try making one of these bad boys at home. And if you’re worried about things getting out of hand then don’t worry because once someone makes friends with their inner culinary savage they will also become best friends with food bliss so sit back, relax, and watch as your family goes absolutely nuts over some delicious smoked turkey

Tips for making a perfect Thanksgiving turkey:

– Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked properly and not overcooked.

– Don’t forget to brine your bird for at least 4 hours which will guarantee a juicy, delicious Thanksgiving turkey every single time!

– If you want to be able to let it sit out the night before then use two smaller turkeys instead of one large because it will cool down much faster!

– You might also want to check that all of your appliances are working before you start cooking for this day. Make sure the smoker has enough wood and that the oven can get hot enough without having any issues. Just remember that preparation is key if you want a perfect Thanksgiving meal so don’t skip out on doing any part of the preparations!

– Don’t forget to buy a roasting pan or rack that will fit your turkey because this helps keep the meat moist and prevents it from touching the bottom of the oven which could dry it out!

What are the benefits of smoking a turkey in an electric smoker?

– Electric smokers are very easy to use and maintain.

– Once you’ve plugged in your smoker simply add some wood, turn it on to the proper temperature, insert your meat, close the lid, and wait patiently for it to finish cooking!

– You can start smoking meat easily without having to monitor the temperature all day long which makes our time much more enjoyable.

– You don’t have to go outside or hassle with getting a fire started so you don’t have to worry about smoke alarms going off.

– If you are cooking something else at the same time you can do two things at once so your meal isn’t being held up by the smoking process which will speed everything up.

– There is no risk of burning yourself because electric smokers come with built-in temperature probes and automatic shutoff features for extra safety and peace of mind.

What kind of wood chips should you use?

You can use many different types of wood chips in an electric smoker. Fruit trees like apple and cherry are often used because they create a nice smoky flavor light enough that it won’t overpower the meat. Mesquite is another popular type of smoking wood that is strong so you don’t need to use it as much.

Pecan is also another great choice if you want to use something more similar to what your cooking over an open flame might taste like. If you aren’t sure what kind of wood flavors go well with turkey, just ask around or look up recipes online for ideas about which type of wood goes best with different kinds of meat.

If you aren’t sure what kind of wood flavors go well with turkey, just ask around or look up recipes online for ideas about which type of wood goes best with different kinds of meat.

Now that you know everything there is to know about electric smokers, let’s move on to the real reason you’re here.

Recipes for smoked turkey:

Here are some recipes that you can use to make a delicious turkey this Thanksgiving using an electric smoker instead of the oven.

Garlic and lemon rubbed smoked turkey

Ingredients – 1 lemon – 3 garlic cloves – 1 tsp. cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano – 2 tbsp. butter – 1 turkey


– Juice the lemon and roughly chop garlic cloves before adding them to a food processor along with spices of your choice and herbs if you have some on hand. Pulse everything together until it becomes a coarse paste then work in butter until fully mixed.

– Make a few slits into the top of the skin to let the flavor seep in much easier because this method works best for smoked turkey recipes! Season meat all over with salt before placing it inside an aluminum tray and covering tightly with foil paper so you don’t lose any of those juices. Place turkey in your smoker for 2 hours at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

– After two hours have passed remove the foil and use a brush to cover the turkey’s surface with some of that delicious lemon garlic seasoning. Leave it uncovered for another 45 minutes before inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of its thigh to make sure it measures 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing completely from heat.

Allow meat to rest for 30 minutes before carving so all those delicious juices don’t run out onto your plate, making everything dry! Enjoy this succulent smoked turkey recipe with all your Thanksgiving guests!

Apple cider brined smoked turkey


– 3 liters apple cider – 2 tbsp. salt – 1 cup honey – 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme – ½ onion, coarsely chopped – 8 garlic cloves whole – 5 lb. turkey 


– Heat up all ingredients in a saucepan until boiling then allow to simmer for 30 minutes before removing from heat and placing inside your refrigerator so the flavors can mingle overnight. The next day take out your turkey and remove any parts that are unnecessary like giblets or neck also known as ‘butterflings’! Prepare by cleaning off any extra fat or skin on the outside of the bird with cold water then pat dry using some paper towels before adding it to a roasting pan.

– Pour the cooled mixture over the turkey and leave it in your fridge for 4 hours before you take it out and prepare your smoker according to its temperature guide while leaving the meat to dry for an additional 1 hour.

– Place turkey, breast side up, on the smoker and cover then allow to smoke for 2 ½ hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit before turning off the heat and inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of its thigh which measures 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow meat to rest for 30 minutes after removing from heat so juices don’t run away!

Smoked turkey recipes using apple cider brine give such delicious results because this method makes use of another flavor enhancer besides adding spices directly onto meat which is one of the many reasons why you should try it at least once this Thanksgiving!

Bourbon maple glazed smoked turkey


– 1 whole turkey, thawed – 3 tbsp. salt – 2 tbsp. black peppercorns – 4 bay leaves – 2 cups bourbon – ¾ cup maple syrup – ½ stick unsalted butter


– The night before, place your turkey in a large bowl filled with cold water then add 4 tablespoons of salt along with ice cubes to help the meat stay fresh and cool. Remove bird from the mixture after 24 hours have passed along with giblets but you can leave neck if desired. Rinse off thoroughly under cold running water then pat dry using some paper towels.

– Prepare your smoker following its temperature guide while allowing the meat to dry for an hour or two indoors or in a refrigerator before placing turkey on the smoker with skin side down then smoke for 6 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Combine butter, bourbon, ½ cup maple syrup, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper in a container before heating up over medium heat until ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Remove from heat then inject into the meat using an injector syringe. Cover the bird with aluminum foil while allowing it to rest for 45 minutes after smoking is complete!

Once again this recipe will make use of the flavors you would get if you were marinating chicken instead of how most people do it by directly applying spices but this time you get even more delicious results because of added flavors like the bourbon maple syrup mixture that becomes injected into your smoked turkey giving it that extra bit of flavor that makes it taste like something that was baked!


How do I prevent my turkey from drying out while smoking it?

One way of doing this is by brining the meat instead of marinating it or using apple cider.

What are some good side dishes to have with smoked turkey?

Some of my favorites include sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese casserole, buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, cornbread dressing with gravy made from drippings! You can also try making cranberry sauce if you’re not a fan of actual sauce being inside your turkey when you eat it.

How long does smoked turkey last in the fridge?

if you are not planning on eating everything, make sure you put it all back inside your refrigerator within just 2 hours since this meat can become contaminated by bacterial growth which can lead to food poisoning after this time frame has passed. Be careful when handling all foods that might be potentially hazardous especially during Thanksgiving or other holidays where cooking goes beyond normal due to large gatherings!

Is smoking turkey healthy?

Smoking meat, especially poultry is generally not considered “healthy” since it adds large amounts of fats and calories to what would otherwise be lean protein. However, the health benefits that come from eating smoked meats like turkey might outweigh the negative aspects. This can depend on how often you eat smoked meats or other kinds of meats in general.

What are some good alternatives to smoking your turkey?

If you don’t have a smoker but still want to make use of the flavors associated with this cooking method, try cooking your bird in an oven which makes use of convection heating instead where hot air is blown around by fans while allowing the meat to get cooked up more quickly! The downside about using this method for Thanksgiving is that it may be difficult to get the meat done in time especially since cooking it for too long will make it dry and tasteless!

What is the danger zone when smoking a turkey?

This dangerous zone is anything between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, where this is the range where bacteria can grow rapidly. This makes it important for you to not let your turkey sit out too long after cooking or defrosting before refrigerating it!

How do I reheat my smoked turkey?

Try microwaving or baking until cooked throughout evenly again! You can also try using hot water or an oven for this purpose which might make for better results depending on how you like your meat done.

Should I smoke my turkey breast up or down?

You can smoke your turkey either way, it all depends on your smoker having the racks set up properly for this. Check your owner’s manual to see whether you should smoke with the breast down or up!

How long does smoked turkey last?

The shelf life of smoked meats like this is generally greater than that of its non-smoked counterpart, provided that it isn’t cooked for too long. You can expect smoked meat to stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 days after purchase if cooked within just 2 hours after it’s done being heated up fully! If you’re looking to store the meat longer than this, consider putting it inside a freezer instead which keeps food safe even longer since water doesn’t freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit unlike most foods do!

What are the common mistakes when smoking a turkey?

One of the common mistakes is allowing your bird to sit out too long after cooking or defrosting! If you’re not planning on eating it immediately, place it inside the refrigerator within 2 hours instead. Another mistake is overcooking your meat since this will make it dry and tasteless making the meal hardly worth the effort in some cases! Be sure to use a thermometer when checking up on your food to ensure that you get something tender and tasty rather than something tough and bland no one would want to eat!

What spices can I add to my brine?

some great options include peppercorns, bay leaves, hot sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, etc depending on how you want your turkey to taste. Just make sure that you don’t add anything that might cause the meat to burn during cooking!

How long do I have to brine my turkey?

Brine for no more than 6 hours before cooking the meat thoroughly! Longer brining time also increases the risk of spoilage since too much exposure to water might let bacteria grow inside resulting in food poisoning so keep this in mind when handling any potentially hazardous foods regardless of how it’s being handled or cooked.

Can I smoke a turkey ahead of time?

Yes, but make sure to keep it refrigerated whenever you’re not cooking it up since this prevents bacteria from growing inside. Putting the meat in the freezer might be an even safer option if you want to store it for longer than this! Just remember that once you take the bird out again, it’s going to start spoiling quickly if not cooked within 2 hours after taking it out from storage which makes having another meal planned out important when doing things like this!

How do I get my turkey crispy skin?

One way is by turning on the broiler towards the end of cooking. You can also add some oil along with your spices or rubs to ensure they stick onto the skin properly to get that crispiness out! Sometimes, this can be done by basting the skin with either water or butter for example when it reaches a certain color too.

This is an optional step that you can skip if you’re in a hurry though, the skin may not turn out crispy but still remains tasty!

Does smoking ruin turkey?

Smoked meats are actually some of the healthiest things you can eat when done properly! Using a smoker that’s heated up enough to cook the meat thoroughly yet hot enough not to let bacteria grow inside is one way to ensure this. If you’re not sure when your smoker is hot enough, check with a thermometer to determine when the internal temperature hits your target point so you don’t have to worry about getting sick from undercooked poultry which might lead to food poisoning if it hasn’t been handled well in terms of safety.

Is it safe to smoke turkey overnight?

It’s completely safe, however, it may result in the meat taking on too much smoke which gives it an odd flavor. If you don’t mind what it’ll taste like, go ahead and smoke your turkey overnight!

Can you smoke a turkey low and slow?

You can definitely do this, but you must make sure to keep the smoker hot enough so it cooks through properly without having the meat take on too much smoke which makes it taste bad!

How long can I hold my turkey before throwing it away?

If you’re not planning on using the leftovers within 2 hours of taking it out from storage, toss them into the trash to prevent spoiling and food poisoning. Remember that even food that seems safe like mashed potatoes might still spoil since they contain lots of liquid making them vulnerable to bacteria growth if exposed inside a warm environment for too long instead of being refrigerated immediately after cooking!

What can you use to stuff your turkey?

Really, any edible substance can be used to stuff your turkey! You can mix in some fruit with the meat during cooking for example to add on some sweetness or use bacon bits along with potatoes and veggies for a nice flavor. If you’re not sure what spices will do for the turkey, try some paprika powder or salt and pepper. Just remember that fruits like apples might burst while cooking so it’s best to avoid using them if you don’t want cranberries covering the inside of your oven all over again.

What to do if your turkey is too salty after smoking?

If you think your turkey is too salty after smoking it, just add some water to the meat once it’s been chopped up into pieces. This leach out some of the salt from inside by giving it time to soak in the water which makes for a good solution if you’re having company come over and want everything on the table at once without taking away from its overall flavor!

If you don’t mind waiting for a bit until the meat has absorbed enough of the water, go ahead and heat up some broth and pour that onto your cooked meat instead! This step can be skipped if you like your turkey tasting like ocean water though so make sure this doesn’t bother you before doing anything else with this method.

Can you get sick from smoked turkey?

Smoked turkey is perfectly safe to eat as long as the meat has been cooked properly! As with any other kind of meat, make sure it’s hot enough inside if you don’t want to risk getting sick from food contamination.

Do you need to brine a whole turkey before smoking it?

You don’t have to do this, but keep in mind that not brining your meat can result in a drier and tougher piece of poultry which you might or might not be okay with. If you want the best out of every bite then definitely consider brining your turkey beforehand!


Smoking a turkey however you like it is a great way to get something that’s actually healthy for your family and friends to eat during the holidays! Don’t forget to consider checking on the meat every once in a while so it doesn’t overcook while being smoked since this can easily happen if you’re not around. 

We hope you found this guide helpful in your quest to create some tasty smoked meats of your own by doing things safely and with lots of flavors!

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