How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker

Electric smokers pair quality with convenience to produce delicious browned meat bursting with flavor. This guide will detail how to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker easily and efficiently so that you can enjoy both preparation and dining. 

Why Use an Electric Smoker? 

Electric smokers offer a variety of benefits to cooking your favorite meats. Electric smokers are renowned for their ease as compared to gas and charcoal methods, which require a great deal of supervision and regulation. Electric smokers also free up kitchen space, allowing you to smoke bigger quantities of meat in a small overall area. Lastly, electric smokers are handy for beginner chefs as temperature control is easy. It is also considerably safer than other methods of smoking. 

Picking Your Turkey 

Butcher standing in his shop

When choosing a turkey to smoke, it is important to pick a piece of meat that has not already been garnished or spiced, as this can interfere with your own ingredients and process. When smoking, never use a frozen turkey as this can lead to uneven temperatures throughout your meat. Smoking meat that is frozen can also interfere with the structure of the body, leaving you with less meat than desired. Who you’re feeding is another important aspect to consider when purchasing a turkey. A general rule of thumb is that one pound of unprepared turkey serves one person. So, when smoking for a large family, ten to twelve pounds of meat should be enough. 

Preparing Your Turkey 

Actually preparing one’s turkey is vital to the smoking process. This consists of four steps: cleaning, brining, rinsing, and seasoning. Before beginning your prep, be sure your turkey has reached room temperature. Remember to avoid contact with any other food items before washing your hands when handling raw meat. 


Remove everything from inside your turkey. This includes the neck, giblets, and other parts of the turkey unsuitable for smoking. There should be an opening from the shoulders of the turkey to its lower abdomen, run water through it and rinse the outside of your turkey thoroughly with cold water. Pat the body dry with a paper towel. 


“Wet brining” is a term used to describe letting your turkey soak in a mixture of water, salt, and spices to prime and tenderize your cut. Dissolve two cups of kosher salt in two cups of hot water and let cool. Coat your turkey in this solution, then place in a clean five-gallon bucket filled with two gallons of water and any seasonings you may want, including herbs, spices, and vegetables. Soak the turkey in this solution in the refrigerator for one hour per one pound of meat. 


Once the bringing process is complete, make sure to rinse the bird off with cold water and pat it with paper towels. Otherwise, your turkey will be far too salty to eat. Let the whole turkey dry for twelve to twenty-four hours. 


Seasoning is the most important aspect of cooking your turkey in regards to flavor. Rub the inside and outside of your meat with ingredients of your choice, such as white wine, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, bay leaves, pepper, thyme, garlic, and onion. Use a wet mix on the outside of your turkey and a dry one on the inside, as wet ingredients penetrate the skin more than dry ones.

Preparing Your Smoker 

Before smoking, you must ensure that your electric smoker is ready. While this looks different for different models, some basic steps remain constant. First, you must load your wood chips into the smoker’s built-in tray. Recommended chips include mesquite, hickory, and birch, however, it is up to personal preference. Use about 4 cups of chips for every three to five hours of cooking. Next, fill the water container inside the smoker with hot water and place it back in the bottom of your chamber. If there is no designated place for the water container, simply put it on the floor of your smoker. 


Once you’ve turned on your smoker, preheat it to about 350°F. It should start producing smoke after some time, during which you will place your turkey inside directly on a rack and close and lock the smoker door. Cook for half an hour per pound of meat. Check periodically by placing a wireless meat thermometer in the thickest part of the bird. Once it reads 165°F, you can remove your turkey and place it onto a baking sheet. It should look very brown on the outside, and tan inside. Then, cover in tinfoil.


Someone cutting into a turkey

Let your turkey rest for at least half an hour before serving. Carve and serve your turkey at your discretion. Breasts pair well with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and other vegetables, while biscuits and cranberry sauce often accompany wings. 

How to Smoke a Turkey in an Electric Smoker: Conclusion

No matter what event you’re cooking for, a smoked turkey always satisfies even the pickiest of eaters. With an electric smoker, it has never been easiest to enjoy a fresh, smoked turkey in the comfort of your own home. 

Written by Brittany Rogers

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