How to Smoke Turkey With Wood Chips

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A smoked turkey is a delicious alternative to traditional roasted poultry. The smoke gives the bird an intriguing aroma and mouth-watering flavor, while slow-cooking the exterior to an attractive golden-brown. Wood chips provide the smoky taste and scent. Because of the size of a whole turkey, it will be necessary to replenish wood chips in a smoker every few hours. Prepping the bird before it goes in the smoker will ensure delicious results. Allow six to eight hours for smoking a 12-pound turkey.

Things You'll Need

  • 10 to 12 pound whole turkey, cleaned and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Cracked peppercorns
  • Two quarts turkey stock
  • Chicken bullion cubes
  • Smoker
  • Wood chips
  • Metal bowl
  • Work gloves
  • Meat thermometer
  • Soak eight to 10 cups of wood chips in a metal bowl filled with water for at least two hours before ready to smoke the turkey. Mesquite wood complements the taste and texture of poultry. Oak and apple are also popular for smoking turkey.

  • Place the fresh turkey in a shallow pan to prepare the bird for the smoker.

  • Coat all exterior surfaces of the bird in olive oil until the skin glistens, then season with crushed sage, thyme, peppercorns and other spices as desired to taste.

  • Pre-heat the smoker either by turning on the electric power, igniting the propane gas or starting a charcoal fire, depending on the type of smoker.

  • Prepare turkey stock by boiling two quarts of water with the neck bone of the bird and four to five cubes of chicken bullion, adding salt and pepper to taste. This will be a basting stock to keep the bird moist during the long smoke.

  • Add two cups of drained wood chips to the smoker's firebox to begin producing a good smoke.

  • Place the turkey breast-side up on the cooking grates and close the smoker, adjusting the vents about midway to circulate wood smoke.

  • Add another cup of drained wood chips about once an hour to keep the smoking going. This is also a good time to add charcoal as necessary, if using a charcoal smoker.

  • Baste the bird once an hour with the turkey stock to keep the turkey moist.

  • Turn the bird upside-down after four hours of smoking and baste again, adding more wood chips to the fire box.

  • Check the internal temperature of the bird after six hours of smoking, using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh for the most accurate reading. Turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 F to be safe for eating.

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