How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

We cover everything related to smoking a turkey in an electric smoker, from preparing it to the smoking process itself.
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
Expert Consultant
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: August 22, 2023
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Smoked turkey is amazingly pleasing to everybody. If you are having your family or friends at your place, smoked turkey is the best way to give them the lasting memory they deserve. Interestingly, making a smoked turkey is not as difficult as many people often imagine. Therefore, if you have a responsibility to make the next smoked turkey at your house or friends’ meetup, cheer up, you are about to find out the stepwise procedure of making a spicy smoked turkey.

Learning how to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker is important compared to smoking it on bare fire. Electric smokers are much safer than many other means of smoking meats. The best so far is the Char-Broil Deluxe Black Digital Electric Smoker. Moreover, it provides an easily controllable environment for smoking your turkey. Turkey, on the other hand, is also the best meat for smoking especially because you can cook it at a relatively low temperature and get the result you desire. Follow the guide below to smoke your turkey.

Before You Smoke a Turkey

Before the real work starts, you must get your turkey, ingredients, and electric smoker on the ground. Each piece of this endeavor is important, and you must treat all of them critically. Barbequing is an outdoor activity. This means you will get all your tools, ingredients and all outside. The truth is that you could get your BBQ smoked turkey commercially, but nothing is more refreshing when you make it yourself. Therefore, preparing for the smoking task is not tedious at all. It involves only two activities. The first is knowing the right turkey to pick for smoking, and the second is preparing the turkey for smoking.

How to Pick a Turkey to Smoke

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerThis step seems like an easy task, but in reality, it is not that simple. The first thing you should pay attention to is if you want to smoke your turkey yourself, don’t go for an already spiced turkey. Ensure the turkey you choose is free from any ingredient. You can add your ingredients or flavor yourself. Therefore, pick a fresh turkey.

Another thing you should pay attention to is the temperature of the turkey you want to use. Never go with a frozen turkey. Apart from the fact that this could be dangerous, smoking a frozen turkey will leave your turkey with uneven spots of hot and cold flesh.

The fast transition of your turkey from cold to hot (thawing) can be damaging to it. Therefore, go for freshly killed turkey, a white and clean one. If it has been previously refrigerated, make sure you get it to room temperature before you start smoking it.

How to Prepare a Turkey for Smoking

Preparing your turkey before smoking is one of the most important steps. This is the step where you add all the ingredients and flavor that garnishes your meat. If you can do this process rightly, you have a great chance at making a delicious turkey. There are five critical steps you should take to prepare your turkey for smoking.

  1. Clean it

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerThis process is important, especially if you killed the turkey yourself. It involves removing the neck and everything inside the turkey. Rinse the turkey of every drop of blood and make it completely white. Ensure there is a two-way opening from the next of the turkey to its abdomen/anus. Allow water to run through it to keep it completely clean.

  1. Brine it

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerInitially, brining was used to preserve meat and other household items, but since the evolution of smoking, its use has evolved. Brining is an important process in keeping your turkey ready for smoking. It involves treating your bird with salt to make it retain moisture while being smoked for a long period. This process allows your meat to absorb enough flavor and ingredient and also prevent the turkey from drying out.

  1. Rinse it

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerAfter you brine your turkey, you should remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly. Make sure you use cold water for rinsing so you don’t alter the composition of the absorbed salt. After rinsing, allow it to dry for 12 to 24 hours. Then you are ready for the next step.

  1. Season it

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerThis is the most important part of making your turkey ready for smoking. Seasoning involves rubbing the inside and outside of your turkey with the ingredients. The best practice is to use a wet mix for the outside of your turkey and use dry mix for the inside. The reason is that the wet ones enter the skin of the chicken than the dry ones. The same applies to using a dry mix inside of the turkey. Once you have done this, your turkey is ready for smoking.

  1. Stick it

It is a relatively simple step, but it is good you pay attention to it so that it doesn’t spoil all the stress you’ve been going through. Mild hardwoods are often the best option. Ensure to avoid any wood that is already getting rusty. Also, avoid woods like hickory or mesquite because they can overpower the flavor of your turkey and make it unpleasant. Stuck the chicken from the neck and let it come out from the anus or abdomen.


How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric SmokerThis is the most interesting part because it is where you perform the magic. Combining all the ingredients in the right proportion is the greatest determinant for how sweet your turkey will be. Some of the ingredients you will be using include oil, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground bay leaf, ground thyme, ground sage, finely ground black pepper.

When you have your turkey well cleaned, it is time to brine and season it. It is a critical stage because how you combine them determines a lot about how your turkey will taste. Follow the stepwise process below to make the best-smoked turkey.

  1. Place your turkey in a bowl deep and large enough to contain your turkey conveniently.
  2. Pick up a knife and mark even patterns on the turkey. This is where you will insert the brine and other ingredients.
  3. Mix the ingredients in a moderate manner and with a small amount of water and warm it.
  4. Fill the insertion needle with the warm brine and inject the turkey around the grid you created.
  5. You can then rinse it or use a towel to remove excess water.
  6. Place your turkey on the rack and then in the smoker and leave it for about 10-11 hours at 220°F.

Below is a video guide on smoking a turkey in an electric smoker.


Below are the answers to some questions you might have if you’ve never cooked a turkey in an electric smoker.

What Are the Benefits of Smoked Turkey?

Apart from the fun you derive from smoking turkeys, there some amazing health benefits that come with eating them. Turkey is a fantastic source of protein, and it makes your stomach filled up easily. When you eat turkey, you would not need any other snack in between meals to support it. Turkey also has fewer calories compared to other kinds of meat. This means it is way safer, especially for the old. Turkey is also a good source of vitamin B and zinc. Those are important chemicals for some processes in the body. A good electric smoker will save you from too much char or carbon around your turkey.

How Long Will It Take to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker?

There is no standard time for smoking a turkey, but there are many factors that determine how long it would take to completely smoke a turkey. These factors include the size and shape of the turkey, the temperature of smoking the turkey, and the rate of opening and closing the electric smoker. Consider all of these factors to know how long it would take to cook your turkey.

On average, it will take about 1 hour to completely smoke a turkey at a temperature of 225 °F. A good way you can also determine the time of smoking is to multiply the number of pounds of the turkey by 30 minutes. It means if the turkey is 22 pounds, it will take about 11 hours. Even though there is no standard time, close monitoring will help you not miss the time when your turkey is done.

At What Temperature Should You Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker?

The temperature at which you smoke your turkey is one of the most important factors that determine whether the turkey will be well done or not. Generally, experts recommend that you smoke at a low temperature. The reason for this is not farfetched. Smoking at this temperature will ensure that every part of the turkey is getting smoked at relatively the same time. Smoking at a high temperature often leads to uneven distribution of heat, which can eventually lead to a part burning, while others are not yet cooked.

When you have turkey ready for smoking. The first thing is to fire your electric smoker and get it to 350°F. When it starts to produce smoke, turn it down to 250 – 220 °F and place your turkey in it. Keep it at that temperature for the next 10–12 hours.

When the turkey reaches a temperature of around 170°F in its thickest part, you can turn off the electric smoker. You can get a small wireless meat thermometer to know the temperature at the thickest point.

How Do You Know the Turkey Is Ready?

As you can read above, the easiest way to know when the turkey is ready is when its temperature is around 170°F. Maintaining such temperature at the thickest part means that the turkey is well cooked. Another easy way of knowing your turkey is ready is from the look and feel in your hand. It will be very brown on the outside and a little brown on the inside. Its feel on your hands will also make it quite obvious that it ready.

Final Thoughts

There is probably nothing compared to having a smoked turkey on a round table with your friends and family. It is then much more fun when you smoked the turkey yourself. The fun, sensation, and jokes around that can be compared to nothing. The good news is that experiencing this has now become an easy task. All you need do is to follow every single step that we have discussed up the article.

Learning how to smoke a turkey in an Electric Smoker is a great idea, and by now you can see how simple the process can be. Therefore, go to the market and get all your tools and ingredient ready to make that smoked turkey like you always have wanted.

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