Have You Tried Smoked Barbeque Turkey? If Not, You’re Missing a Treat!


I’m surprised that more people don’t try smoked turkey. Smoked barbeque turkey is another tasty product of the smoker. It’s much more flavorful than traditional roast turkey.

And if you would like to scale down consider cooking a smoked barbeque turkey breast. It is wonderful and a great choice for those smaller meals.

And who doesn’t like those barbeque turkey legs they serve at Disney World. It’s one of my favorite treats at the parks.

What to do with all that leftover smoked turkey? You can make a great casserole like turkey and dumplings. It’s quite tasty and healthy at the same time. You can also make turkey quesadillas from that leftover bird.

Why is it not a common choice? Probably because “store bought” smoked barbeque turkey is rather expensive. Well, the new barbeque cook is in luck as a visitor to this site because anyone can prepare it on a kettle grill or a dedicated smoker.

The vertical water smoker or “drum” smoker is almost tailor made for this application because it creates moist, hot smoke. The challenge is that it takes patience because it takes a while to cook.

turkey-legsThe key to success with smoked barbeque turkey is brining . Brining makes achieving a juicy bird almost foolproof.

Brining is also an opportunity to add additional flavors by adding fruit juices, spices, and sweetners like honey.

Another key to success is chosing a smaller bird when you decide to smoke. Ten to fourteen pounds is the ideal size.

If you chose a large bird it will just take that much longer to cook. You also don’t want to select a bird that is too large for the smoker (unless you are using an offset or larger smoker).

This step is listed below but is key to cripy skin. Let the turkey skin air dry for a couple of hours (and come to room temperature) before puting in the smoker. The skin will look and taste sooo much better if you do.

Warning!!!! Remember to wash and disinfect anything that comes in contact with raw poultry. Salmonella poisoning is no joke so be careful.

    Follow These Steps to Cook a Perfect Smoked Barbeque Turkey

  • The first thing the new cook should do is to brine the bird. Use one of the brining recipes for poultry and let it stay in the brine at least 12 hours.
  • Take the bird out of the brine and wash off and then pat dry.
  • Let the skin on the bird air dry under refrigeration for at least 2 hours. Too much water in the skin will cause it to be rubbery.
  • Rub the bird down with a little olive oil and season. You can season with simple salt and pepper or you can use a rub. There are serveral poultry rubs that make a tasty bird.
  • Prepare your smoker with charcoal and stabilize the temperature in the range between 230 to 250 degrees. A oven thermometer is a good choice for control (to have in the cooking chamber) if your lid does not have one built in. It takes about 6-8 hours for a fourteen pound turkey or about 35 minutes per pound.
  • Smoked-Turkey

  • Apple or cherry wood are good smoking choices for turkey. You can also use hickory or oak for a heavier smoke flavor. I would avoid mesquite, it leaves a slightly bitter flavor
  • Place the bird “breast side” down (for self basting). Don’t stuff the turkey (make a stove top variety). It will take way too long for the stuffing to reach a safe internal temperature.
  • You are going to need a good meat thermometer to determine doneness of your bird. Your turkey will not be done until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Be sure to check several locations and avoid touching bone. Also be aware that white meat cooks faster than dark.
  • When the turkey is done let it rest about 20 minutes before carving.

Notes of Caution When Smoking Your Turkey

  • Keep water in the bowl. The water serves as a great temperature regulator, so check about 3 hours into smoking. To make the task easier I use a garden watering can with the spray end removed to pour water in the bowl.
  • Avoid placing your smoker in a windy area or using on windy days. Try to shelter it with a barrier to the wind.
  • Avoid using the smoker on very cold days. It’s doable but difficult to maintain temperature.
  • Lastly, avoid taking the lid off the smoker to check the turkey. It takes 15 minutes for the temperature to equalize and return to the previous state. You end up adding time to the cooking period length.

These steps should create the perfect smoked barbeque turkey for you and your family. It’s one of our favorites.