When you mention smoked meat to people, the majority think of ham or beef, such as a brisket. However, with turkey quickly becoming a favorite food due to flavor, economical sense, and nutrition, turkey smoking is on the rise. Although we have been cooking turkeys in the oven for years, we now find turkeys being the perfect meat for an outdoor smoker as well. In addition to enhanced flavor, a turkey will smoke up juicy and tender.
Now, if you plan to smoke a turkey for dinner, a holiday meal, or simply for a gathering of friends, you want to make sure the internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees. That way, the other parts of the turkey will be much hotter since the internal portion is the coolest. To ensure you get an accurate reading, we recommend you test this temperature in two places. Then, keep in mind that turkey bones become very hot so you should not check the temperature too close to bones.
To smoke a turkey, the best smoker temperature is anywhere between 220 and 240 degrees. While beef usually cooks at one pound per hour, you want to plan about 40 minutes per pound for turkey and other poultry. Of course, a delicious smoke turkey always starts with good quality turkey. For this reason, buy the freshest you can find. If you go with a frozen turkey, it would need to be thawed according to directions first.
A number of wood options would be great for smoking a turkey but we generally recommend cherry or apple, which give the meat a nice smoky flavor that is mild. You will also need a quality meat thermometer. The thing you need to know is that the texture and color of an oven-roasted turkey is very different from one that is smoked. For instance, a smoked turkey may appear pinker with smoother texture, which is fine. The reason is that during the smoking process, chemical changes occur in the turkey, which causes the color change. The most important factor is checking the internal temperature, making sure it reaches 165 degrees.
Be sure to lay everything out before you get started to include a prepared turkey. Then, the smoker would need to be started until you have a consistent temperature of 230 degrees. To enhance the overall flavor of the turkey, you might consider using brine. For this, the bird would be soaked in brine for 24 hours, resulting in an amazing flavor. Of course, if you prefer to skip this step, then use a special spice rub designed specifically for turkey. Once placed breast side up in the smoker, you would let it cook 40 minutes per pound until the desired temperature is reached.