Smoker Tip: How to Smoke a Turkey with an Electric Smoker
Even if you're already using your electric smoker to cook steaks, ribs and other go-to cuts of meat this grilling season, you may want to consider adding poultry to the mix. Smoked turkey offers complex, mouth-watering flavors that just aren't attainable using other cooking methods. While it's possible to smoke a turkey using your charcoal, gas or pellet smoker, we'll be using an electric smoker for this guide.
What you’ll need:
Step 1: Choose your turkey and wood
Avoid purchasing a turkey that is larger than 14 pounds, as a large turkey may not reach a safe temperature quickly enough. The temperature danger zone (when bacteria growth is at its highest) is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have more that eight or nine guests, opt for two turkeys instead of a single, larger turkey.
For your wood choices, you can opt for apple or cherry wood if you want a mild flavor. For a strong, smoky flavor, go with hickory or mesquite wood chips. If you're feeling creative, you can even mix a combination of wood chips to create a unique flavor for your turkey.
Step 2: Heat the wood chips
Pre-heat the wood chips in the smoker to the desired cooking temperature before you add the turkey.
Step 3: Prepare the turkey
Rinse out the center cavity of the turkey, and rub the outside with oil or butter to crisp the skin. Avoid stuffing the turkey with dressing, as that can increase the cooking time and dry out the turkey. Instead, add a couple of apples or fresh herbs in the center cavity of the turkey for flavor.
Step 4: Place the turkey in the smoker and cook
Add the turkey to the smoker when the temperature has reached 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.The cook time will depend on the size of the bird. Bring the temperature up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the turkey for approximately 30 minutes per pound.
Step 5: Watch the temperature
Monitor the temperature of the smoker, the amount of smoke and the internal temperature of the turkey. The smoker should stay at 250 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the smoking process. If you start to run low on smoking chips, add a few more to the pile. If the internal temperature of the turkey at the thickest part of the breast and the thigh are not over 140 degrees Fahrenheit after three hours, raise the temperature of the smoker to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or finish the cooking process in the oven for the safest handling.
Step 6: Remove the turkey at 180 degrees Fahrenheit
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the inner thigh. When it reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit, your turkey is ready to remove from the oven or smoker.
Step 7: Serve
You can let the turkey stand until other dishes are ready, or you can serve immediately if your meal is ready to go. Consider adding a few new sides to this twist on the typical turkey. Try pan-fried balsamic Brussels sprouts with capers instead of green bean casserole and roasted root vegetables instead of mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole.