How to cook Turkey in an Electric Smoker?

Whether you want to impress your guests with a delicious dish, or trying out to make some special dish for your weekend, cooking turkey can be a great option, to try out. Knowing to cook turkey in an electric smoker is not of least important though!

If you are a person, who is fond of exploring the dishes and always trying to prepare something new, then making your hands dirty by preparing turkey can be very beneficial in terms of adding spice to your diet. As well as it has some tremendous health benefits, you should take that into account.

It can be proved very beneficial in terms of taste and health, if you cook your favorite turkey, using some best methods.

In this article, I will show you some best practices to cook this wonderful dish in an electric smoker, and you will also get to know a lot more about the preparation of turkey. So keep scrolling down, get the amazing tips for preparation of turkey.

Instructions for cooking turkey

The process that I will share here can take a little longer time than usual. But following these steps, the result will ideally be perfect, and you will love to enjoy the wonderful turkey with your family and friends. This method guarantees to give you a special status in your coming family gathering if you do it right. Just follow the steps mentioned below.

Choose the type of turkey to cook

It is wisely said, “A better start results a better end”. While, choosing the type of turkey to cook may seem a relatively more straightforward task, but isn’t that much easy. You have to decide on an ideal turkey to meet your taste and health needs. There are a significant number of options available, among which you can choose which one is the best for you. However, I recommend that that always go for turkey with no ingredient or flavour already added. That’s not a big step. Indeed, we can add flavour to our dish later on, according to our interests and needs. 

Chose turkey based on the number of people you are hosting

It is important to keep in mind the number of people you will host to prepare turkey. If your guests are in a more significant number, you should choose a turkey, having a little more weight than its other species. Here is my suggestion for you. Just assign each pound for each guest for choosing turkey, i.e. you’ll probably need to cook some 8 pounds of turkey if you are hosting 8 guests, family members or friends. 


After you have selected the turkey for your meal, you will trim your bird like a pro in this step. Just follow the given steps for trimming different parts of the turkey. 

Here you are going to trim the turkey. 

  • Take a sharp knife and start cutting from the tail end of the turkey. Continue cutting the turkey at the center bone, heading towards its neck. 
  • After reaching the neck, there comes the wishbone. Follow precisely the same path of the bone to cut the entire bone. 
  • At this stage, you will cut off the skin of the excess fat and continue the same process for all the parts, and you are entirely done with trimming the turkey.


Like most the United States citizens, you may have also chosen a frozen turkey, right? Well, but that isn’t going to work better for you until it is not defrosted. Cooking a frozen turkey will ruin all of your hard work.

So before preparing this wonderful dish, you should always make sure to thaw your turkey properly. This step is the best to inhibit the growing colonies of unimportant bacteria in your dish, that can also affect your health, latter on.

Cooking a frozen turkey can cause the whole meat to be left hot and cold at different spots, affecting its typical taste and its health effects it causes. 

Important points to remember for defrosting a turkey

Just bear the following points in your mind for defrosting your turkey.

  • The first thing to keep in mind is that for defrosting your turkey and making it ideally perfect to cook, you need to defrost 4 to 5 pounds for almost 24 hours. This isn’t a fixed and constant time. However, you need to wait for nearly this much time if you want to impress your guests with a perfect dish.
  • Do not defrost your turkey at room temperature. The room temperature (typically 20-degree centigrade) is an ideal temperature for the multiplication of bacteria present in turkey, which can negatively affect your overall health later on. 
  • Never defrost your turkey in a dishwasher. 

Removing Turkey

The next step towards your successful turkey preparation is to clean your turkey by removing parts. Target the different parts in the body of your turkey and start removing them. First, remove its neck, then move towards removing the gizzard and then other body parts one by one. At last, you’ll need to remove the wings of your turkey, and here we go to step number four.


Usually, it takes, along quiet time to cook your turkey. So you need to treat your bird with salt and water, which is called brining. It is done to allow the turkey to retain moisture to eliminate any future complications that may arise while cooking a turkey. Initially, you used this method to persevere meat for a longer time. But now you can also use it to protect your turkey from becoming tasteless and negative health factor. 

In other words, this method can also be called ‘wet brining‘. You will have to take some water amount and add the required amount of salt to that water. The amount of salt usually varies, and it depends upon the amount of turkey you are going to serve. If done correctly, this step can be proved very beneficial for causing excellent taste and moistening the turkey. 

General Instructions to brine your turkey

Generally, to brine your turkey, you need one cup of salt added to a gallon of water. It will be best for you to add this amount of salt to a few cups’ hot water.

When you dissolve all the salt, you can transfer the solution to another container containing more water, which will be cooled, for bringing the temperature of water back to the room temperature.

At this stage, you can add to its taste by adding any unique flavor that you like. For this purpose, you usually can add garlic, sugar and vinegar etc. 

Once you are done with it, then it comes to soaking your turkey. For this store your turkey in a refrigerator covered with something.

You should soak one pound for one hour to get the best desired results out there. You may think of this step as unnecessary, but it is imperative if you want to make a good impression, as it protects your dish from unpleasant salty kind of taste.

Choosing the right wood

After seasoning your turkey, you need to choose the right wood. The meat of turkey has the property of absorbing flavours of different smokes easier than any other kind of meat, so you also need to take care of the type of woods you use. 

What are some best woods to use for smoking turkey?

Some of the best wood chips you can use to smoke turkey are hickory, maple, oak, cheery and many other wood types. Hickory is the best for those people who love smoky flavors. Similarly, the maple wood will give a sweeter taste to your bird. The other woods that can be used for smoking turkey are Apple Wood, Mesquite, and alder etc


This is the last step of the preparation of this delicious and wonderful dish. In this step, all of your efforts are going to be shown. Follow the given steps to smoke your turkey.

  • Switch on your electric smoker.
  • Set the temperature in the smoker to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, to preheat the smoker. 
  • Place your turkey inside the smoker. Do it after when you see smoke from the electric smoker.
  • Set the timer for almost one hour per one pound (the minimum you can set to thirty minutes).
  • In the next step, when the turkey’s temperature is nearly 165 degrees Fahrenheit, take the turkey out of the smoker, wrap that inside a foil and again place it in the smoker.

The temperature values that are mentioned here are only estimated. You can increase or decrease the temperature depending upon your bird. Keep checking different parts of the bird until it gets thoroughly cooked. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of a turkey. After you are done with all these steps, preserve your turkey for almost 30 minutes before you serve it. After thirty minutes, your turkey is ready to be served to the guests and your loved ones. 

At what temperatures the parts of turkey get cooked?

While cooking a turkey in a smoker, there are two types of temperatures, i.e. the temperature of the smoker that you have set, and the other is the turkey’s temperature. An average your turkey will get cooked at almost 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in some cases, some parts get cooked sooner as compared to other parts. In this case, you will always be checking the temperatures of different bird parts to keep everything going well. Here I will tell you about some average temperatures that will help you cook a turkey in the smoker. 

Body partsTemperatures to cookTime
Breast165 FahrenheitAbove 1 hour
Thighs155 Fahrenheit50 minutes
Wings170 Fahrenheit1 to 1.5 hour

The breast of the turkey usually gets cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. We typically take the breast’s temperature as the turkey’s whole body temperature, as it is the central part of its body.


The thighs of turkey get cooked at the temperature of 155 Fahrenheit. You won’t find much difference between the cooking temperatures of different parts of the body. But there is slight variation among them. So if you want your dish to be perfectly prepared, you have to care for everybody part’s temperature. 


The wings of the turkey quickly get cooked at the temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the wings of your bird are fully prepared.

Safety Precautions for Using an Electric Smoker

Like every tool that you use has some precautions to follow, the electric smoker also needs to be used with proper care and precautions to avoid any danger that you may cause to your next turkey and the smoker. Just keep the below points in your mind during the use of turkey.

  • Never leave your electric smoker plugged after you get finished. Always make sure to switch off the smoker and remove the plug to ensure the smoker’s safety.
  • Never use the smoker after it gets to any wet environment. As it is an electric device and can result in an electric shock, you should always be careful.
  • Always keep your smoker on a levelled surface. This is because you can quickly put everything into trouble if the body below isn’t right for you.
  • Never use your electric smoker on a wooden surface. It can also result in fire, thus pushing everything into the worst condition.

Temperature settings by pounds to cook a Turkey 

Here are some of the ideal temperatures to cook turkey having variable weights. You can get a general idea from the given list for knowing the electric smoker’s temperatures for the given weights of turkey.

WeightsIdeal TemperaturesTime required to cook
8 – 12 pounds325 F3 hours
12 – 14 pounds325 F3.5 hours
15 – 16 pounds350 F4 hours
18 – 20 pounds400 F4 hours
21 – 22 pounds425 F4 hours
24 pounds350 F5 hours

Clean Everything

When you have completed the preparation of turkey, make sure to clean up the pot, electric smoker or anything that you use, for keeping it suitable to be used for the next time. Sometimes, when you forget removing the grease from the pot, it can be excruciating if you can damage your efforts if you cook a turkey in the same pot or smoker for the next time. 

Stay Patient

Always stay patient, while you cook a turkey. It is a time-consuming process, and you don’t need to be so quick, that can ruin everything present there. It is wisely said, “better late than sorry”. So if it takes more time, that’s fine. 


Whether you want to enjoy your weekend with your family or you have invited some special guests to your home, adding some spicy dish to the meal can be a source of great pleasure.

You need to use proper methods to cook a turkey, so that you may not cause any trouble to your dish and yourself. Especially when you are going to cook a turkey in an electric smoker, you should take proper care of the bird’s temperature and the smoker.

You should also follow reasonable precautions for using an electric smoker. It would help if you remembered cooking a turkey in a smoker is thawing and properly bringing turkey. This enables you to avoid causing turkey to taste unpleasantly bitter. 

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