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Plate of a whole smoked turkey carved and sliced.

Smoked Turkey

  • Author: Erin Jensen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 13 servings 1x
  • Category: Thanksgiving
  • Method: Smoker
  • Cuisine: American


Smoked Turkey – an incredibly delicious smoked turkey recipe that is perfect for Thanksgiving!

Optional brine recipe included – be aware that the brine takes significant more planning ahead –  as it needs to sit for 48 hours.




  • 1 turkey (photos show a 13 pound turkey)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or ghee), softened
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (for basting)

Brine (optional):

  • 3 gallons of water (48 cups)
  • 3 cups of kosher salt (if using table salt at least cut salt amount in half)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 oranges, cut in half and squeeze juice out into brine + add in orange rinds
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (optional)


Brine (Optional):

  1. Boil: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add: Add in salt, sugar, orange juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves.
  3. Simmer: Let simmer until salt and sugar of completely dissolved.
  4. Cool: Remove from heat and add ice cubes to cool.
  5. Bucket: Once the mixture is completely cooled add to your brining vessel (large pot/bucket) along with the remaining ingredients.
  6. Turkey: Add turkey and ensure it is completely submerged (you may need to put a small sauce pot on top of it to keep it submerged.
  7. 48 hours: Let brine for up to 48 hours while refrigerated. Discard brine.
  8. Remove: Remove from brine, rinse (optional) and proceed to the Smoked Turkey Recipe, below.

Smoked Turkey:

  1. Preheat: Preheat smoker to 180 degrees F.
  2. Prep Turkey:  Ensure turkey is completely thawed. Remove giblets or any gravy packet, if any, from inside the turkey. Pat turkey dry with a clean paper towel.
  3. Butter: Take softened butter and rub all over turkey.
  4. Seasoning: Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. 90 Minutes at 180: Place on the smoker, insert temperature probe (if any) and close the lid. Let smoke for 90 minutes.
  6. 2 Hours at 215: After 90 minutes increase temperature to 215 degrees F and let turkey smoke for an additional 2 hours.
  7. 350 Degrees until 165 Internal Temp: After 2 hours increase the temperature to 350 degrees F. and let the turkey continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.  For a 13 pound turkey this took about 40 additional minutes.
  8. Remove + Baste: Remove from smoker and baste with melted butter.
  9. Rest: Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Carve: Carve and serve.


  • Thaw: Make sure your turkey is thaw before cooking. Read more about how to thaw turkey here!
  • Brine: Again, the brine is completely optional – I have made the recipe both ways and it turns out amazing even if you don’t take that additional step! Learn more about brining here!
  • Prep Time: I didn’t include the brine in the prep time listed as it is an optional step.
  • Hock: Unlike making a Deep Fried Turkey, you CAN leave the plastic hock on the turkey legs if you want. I chose to remove it here (personal preference) – feel free to use kitchen twine to tie the legs together.
  • Aluminum Tray: Yes, you can cook this in an aluminum cooking tray, but you might lose a little bit of smokey flavor and it might marginally effect the cooking time, but then you will catch all those drippings so you can make gravy!
  • Pellets: I used a combination of mesquite and hickory pellets and it turned out lovely! But feel free to use whatever combo you want.
  • Cook time: How long you need to cook the turkey at 350 (at the end of cooking) will vary depending upon how many pounds your turkey is. For a 13 pound turkey it took 40 minutes cooking at 350 for the turkey to reach an internal temperature of 165.  If your turkey is not completely thawed that will also effect the cooking time.
  • Seasoning: I only seasoned with salt and pepper, but feel free to use this Smoked Turkey Dry Rub or Classic Turkey Seasoning!
  • Dairy-Free: Feel free to sub olive oil for the butter if you are dairy-free!
  • Stuffing: Feel free to stuff the turkey with onion, oranges, garlic and fresh sage leaves!
  • Carvinghere is a great video on how to properly carve your turkey!
  • Gravy: if you use an aluminum tray and catch those drippings, here is my favorite turkey gravy recipe

Keywords: smoked turkey, traeger smoked turkey, how to smoke a turkey