Some people bake turkeys, some roast them, and some fry them. Something you may have never done is to smoke a turkey. Let’s just say that a smoked turkey is going to be the most flavorful bird you’ve ever consumed! How to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker is what we will be discussing in this article.
How to Smoke a Turkey in An Electric Smoker
Let’s go through a comprehensive step-by-step process on how to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker. It may take a good deal of time and work, but it is well worth the final result, so let’s get right to it.
Prepping the Bird
The first thing that needs to be done when smoking a turkey in an electric smoker is to prepare the turkey. No, it doesn’t need a pep talk or an inspirational speech, but it does need to be prepped the right way.
First and foremost, be sure that you get a turkey that can actually fit in the smoker; bigger is not always better. If your turkey is frozen, it will need to be thawed out completely before beginning anything else. It can take up to 3 days to thaw a turkey in the fridge, so be prepared. Do not let the turkey thaw at room temperature or under running water.
The next step is to ensure that your remove the neck and giblets from the interior of the turkey. Not all turkeys come with the giblets included, but if yours does, don’t leave them in there. You will use the giblets to make a killer gravy.
Some people will choose to brine their turkeys before smoking them. This is something you can do, although quite honestly, there is not much of a noticeable difference between a brined and non-brined turkey.
That said, some say that it results in a juicier and tastier turkey. If you want to brine your turkey, mix 1 gallon water with ½ cup sugar and ½ cup of salt (mix enough brine to totally cover the turkey). Let the turkey sit in the brine for about 12 hours.
Once the bird has been brined, before you move on, you need to rinse the turkey off with cool water and then pat it dry with paper towels. Make sure that it is dry before moving on.
Now it is time for you to choose how to season your turkey. You can look up some recipes or use a trusted family recipe. Just make it taste good!
Something to keep in mind is that because smokers don’t get too hot, you cannot stuff it. If you stuff a large turkey and try to smoke it, it will take days to finish.
Stuffing is too much for a smoker to handle. Seeing as you will not be using stuffing, whatever spice mix and ingredients you use, make sure to rub the inside of the turkey with it as well, just to add some flavor.
Prepping the Smoker
So the turkey is now ready to rock, but before you send it into the smoker, you need to prepare the smoker, so let’s quickly go over how to prepare the smoker.
First, make sure the electric smoker is clean before you start. You don’t want to smoke a turkey for a few hours only to realize that the BBQ sauce from the ribs from the week before is burning away and tainting the turkey. Be sure to clean your smoker first.
Get a bit of olive oil or other similar oil onto the rack that will be supporting the turkey. This will help prevent the skin from sticking to the rack.
You will need to choose what kind of wood chips to use for your turkey. There are dozens of different woods you can use for smoking, so do some research and choose one which works well with poultry. Fill up the wood chip drawer with the wood chips. In the water dish, mix some water and cider vinegar.
Get your smoker and place it on a flat, stable, hard, and non-flammable surface. Plug the smoker in and heat it up to 225° Fahrenheit.
Smoking the Bird
Ok, so the turkey is ready and the smoker is up to temperature and full of smoky goodness. Now it’s time to cook the bird.
Make sure to tuck the wings under the turkey and then place the turkey, breast side up, onto the middle rack. Try to place the turkey so there is as little contact with surfaces as possible.
Now you need to do some math. On average, a turkey in a 225° smoker will take about 35 minutes per pound, give or take. So, do your math and set a timer. However long it is going to take, the internal temperature of the turkey should reach 165° to ensure that it is safe to eat.
About once per hour, be sure to check on the turkey and make sure that there is smoke in the smoker. The wood chips probably won’t last more than a few hours, so chances are that you will have to refill the wood chip drawer once or twice before the turkey is cooked through.
Sticking to your schedule, use a poultry thermometer to check the internal temperature every 3.5 hours, just so you know where you stand.
Once the turkey is done, take it out of the electric smoker and let it rest on a metal rack for about 30 minutes before carving. You want to let the turkey rest so all the juices can settle.
As you can see, smoking a turkey does take a bit of work, but it’s really not all that hard, and while it does take a longer time to smoke a turkey, the results are well worth the wait.