how to smoke a whole turkey in an electric smoker

If you’re looking for a delicious and unique way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey this year, why not try smoking it in an electric smoker? It’s easier than you think and the results are guaranteed to impress. Let us show you how to smoke a whole turkey in an electric smoker. We’ll take you through all of the steps from preparing the bird, setting up the smoker, cooking time tips and more. With our guide on hand, there’s no reason why your smoked turkey won’t be perfect every single time.

Table of Contents:

Preparing the Turkey

Preparing the turkey for smoking is an important step in creating a delicious meal. Before you begin, make sure to thaw your bird completely. This process may require several days of refrigeration or up to a day when submerged in chilly liquid. Once it’s fully thawed, remove any giblets and pat dry with paper towels.

Next, brine your turkey overnight by submerging it in a mixture of salt and water (or other liquids such as beer or cider). This will help keep the meat moist while adding flavour. You can also add herbs and spices to customise the taste of your dish. Rinsing off any extra liquid post-brining is essential; then, season with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides of the poultry.

Once prepped, the time has come to configure the smoker and commence savouring your succulent turkey.

Setting Up the Smoker

Smoking your food is an excellent way to impart a unique, tantalising taste and texture. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or entertaining guests, it can be an enjoyable experience.

Prior to starting, check that all the required items are available. You will need an electric smoker, wood chips, charcoal briquettes (optional), a thermometer probe, a water pan (optional), and aluminium foil (optional).

To get started with setting up your electric smoker:

1. Place the wood chips in the chip tray at the bottom of the smoker box according to manufacturer instructions. If using charcoal briquettes instead of wood chips, place them on top of a layer of lava rocks or ceramic briquettes inside the firebox according to manufacturer instructions.

2. Fill up any water pans with cold tap water if desired – this helps keep moisture in while smoking foods such as poultry and fish which tend to dry out quickly when cooked over high heat sources like charcoal grills or smokers. Make sure not to fill too much so that it doesn’t overflow into other parts of your cooker.

3. Preheat your electric smoker by turning it on and adjusting its temperature settings accordingly; most models require preheating before use, so always check first. It is important not to exceed temperatures above 250°F/121°C as this could cause damage to both food items being smoked and components within the cooker due to prolonged exposure at higher temperatures than recommended by manufacturers’ guidelines. 

4.. Once preheated and ready for use, depending on the type and model chosen, either open the air vents located near the base areas beneath main lid sections to allow smoke from burning fuel sources below access through openings towards interior chamber regions where foods are placed or close them off completely trapping smoke created inside thus increasing smoky flavours produced while also reducing the overall time needed per batch due to shorter durations required during closed-off scenarios versus open-air ones respectively.

Once the smoker is set up, it’s time to get smoking. Next, the turkey needs to be prepped and placed in the smoker for a tasty smoky taste.

Smoking the Turkey

cooking a whole meat for dinner

Smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy your holiday bird. It’s easy and takes less time than roasting or deep-frying, so you can spend more time with family and friends.

Ensure your electric smoker is scrupulously clean and heated to a temperature of 250°F prior to beginning. Place the turkey on the rack inside the smoker breast side up. For best results, rub it down with butter or oil before smoking for extra flavour and moisture.

Next, add wood chips or chunks of wood to create smoke. Any type of hardwood, such as hickory, oak, cherry or applewood, should be added judiciously; too much can overpower the turkey’s flavour. Too much smoke will overpower the taste of your turkey.

Shut the lid and leave to simmer for around 3 hours per pound at 250°F, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest area of the thigh reads 165°F (75°C). If you don’t have a thermometer handy, check that juices run clear when pierced between the leg joint and body cavity; if they are still pinkish, keep cooking until done.

Once cooked through, remove from the heat source immediately and cover loosely with foil while resting for 20 minutes before carving so that all those lovely juices stay put. 

Once your bird has been cooked to perfection and imbued with those delectable smoky notes, you can complete the dish by adding a few finishing touches before serving.

Key Takeaway: Smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is a great way to enjoy your holiday bird; just be sure not to overdo the wood smoke and remember to cool leftovers quickly for longer storage.

Finishing Touches

Making sure your smoked turkey is extra flavorful can be a challenge, but with the right finishing touches it can be done. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your bird:


A glaze adds an extra layer of flavour and helps keep moisture in the meat. Mix together some melted butter, honey and pinches of garlic powder or paprika to craft a tasty glaze. Brush it over the turkey before cooking for an added boost of flavour.


Basting is another way to add flavour and keep moisture in while smoking a turkey. Luxuriate in a tantalizing mix of melted butter or oil, and fragrant herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley – to infuse your turkey with intense flavour. Make sure to baste every hour during cooking so that all sides get evenly coated in deliciousness.


Brining is one of the best ways to ensure juicy and flavorful smoked turkey. Soak your bird overnight in a brine solution made from salt water (or beer.), sugar, herbs and spices like bay leaves or peppercorns for added depth of flavour. This will also help tenderise the meat so that it’s easier to carve after smoking.


Marinating is another great way to infuse more flavours into your smoked turkey before cooking. Choose ingredients like citrus juices (lemon/lime), and vinegar (balsamic/apple cider) along with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme for maximum taste impact. Let marinate overnight if possible for best results.

Seasoning Rubs and Sprinkles:

Seasoning rubs are great because they allow you to customise flavours according to what you prefer – mix together ground pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and any other desired seasonings then rub them onto your bird before smoking away. Alternatively, sprinkle on some sea salt flakes at regular intervals throughout cooking time too; this will give an amazing salty-crunchy texture when served up later on.

Once your turkey is perfectly smoked, it’s time to give it the finishing touches – from brushing on a glaze or adding herbs and spices to crisp up the skin. Now that you’ve mastered smoking a whole turkey in an electric smoker, let’s move on to serving and storing for maximum flavour.

Key Takeaway: Smoking a turkey can be made extra flavorful with the right finishing touches such as glazing, basting, brining and marinating. Try adding seasonings like rubs or salt flakes for an even more delicious result.

Serving and Storing

Now that you’ve smoked your turkey to perfection, it’s time to serve and store it. To guarantee a delightful gustatory experience, there are specific procedures you must undertake when serving and storing your smoked turkey.

The first step is carving the turkey. Start by detaching the legs from either side of the turkey. Then remove each wing from its socket joint on either side of the breast. Slice through the skin between each leg and breast until you can easily pull them apart with tongs or a fork. Finally, slice down along both sides of the backbone to separate it from the breasts before slicing it into individual portions for serving.

When ready to serve, place slices onto a platter or cutting board for presentation purposes before transferring them onto plates for guests or family members to enjoy. Make sure all surfaces used during preparation are clean so as not to contaminate any food items with bacteria or germs that may be present in raw meat juices left behind after carving has been completed.

FAQs in Relation to How to Smoke a Whole Turkey in an Electric Smoker

How long does it take to smoke a 13-pound turkey in an electric smoker?

Smoking a 13-pound turkey in an electric smoker typically takes about 4 to 5 hours. Set the smoker to a temperature between two-twenty-five and two-fifty Fahrenheit for best results. It’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey with a thermometer throughout the cooking process, as it should reach 165 degrees before being considered done. Additionally, make sure to add wood chips or pellets every hour or so for optimal flavour and smoke production. With proper preparation and monitoring, you can enjoy a delicious smoked turkey in no time.

How long does it take to smoke a turkey at 225 in electric smoker?

Sustaining an unvarying warmth all through the cooking course is essential for success. Start by preheating your smoker to 225°F and then place your turkey inside. Monitor the internal temperature of the bird with a thermometer probe and adjust as needed for optimal results. Once it reaches 165°F internally, remove it from the smoker and let rest before serving.


Learning how to smoke a whole turkey in an electric smoker is a great way to enjoy the flavours of slow-cooked, smoky turkey. Just a few basic steps and some perseverance can yield delectable dishes that will have everyone wanting more. Whether you’re looking for something special for Thanksgiving or just want to impress your guests with unique flavours, smoking a whole turkey in an electric smoker is sure to be a hit. So fire up that smoker and get ready to smoke a whole turkey in an electric smoker like never before.

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