Smoking A Turkey In A Gas Smoker Grill – How To Do IT (2020)

Smoking a turkey in a gas smoker: How to smoke a turkey

Smoking a turkey and eating it with your family and friends is one of the most beautiful memories for everyone. There are many families who smoked turkey as a tradition to spend time with their loved ones. The meat of turkey is one of the most delicate dishes in the world.

There are hundreds of ways to cook smoke a turkey. Each method gives a different flavor, texture, and moisture to it.  If you think that smoked turkey has only different recipes then, you are unaware of the fact that there are even different smokers for it.

Though you might be aware of all the different smoked turkey recipes and smokers fora whole turkey, there are certain precautions that people are unaware of. These precautions are an essential reason behind a delicious turkey. Don’t worry. We will discuss each one of them. At the end of this content, you will have all the necessary information to enjoy a smoked turkey recipe with your loved ones.

Smoked turkey – Basics

Smoked turkey - Basics

Before we smoke a turkey, let us discuss the types of smokers which can help us do it. Smokers were introduced at the time of the early twentieth century. Since that time, there has been a high demand for cooking a delicious smoked turkey recipe. Going back in time, the first smokers used to run on charcoal or coal. A smoker used to produce a lot of harmful gases on burning.

Another issue with them was that they were challenging to use. Especially the most challenging part was to light up the coal and maintain the fire. However, with the headway of time and technology, newer versions of the smoker came into the market. Each of these smokers has a different property and leads to a different taste of meat. Also, it has become easier to use newer versions of smokers. Here are the most common types of smokers which can help you prepare your turkey.

Types of smokers 

Vertical water smoker: These are some of the most common smokers for turkey, which beginners use. They are highly portable and take up the least space in the room. They provide a moderate level of flavors with three compartments present in them. From bottom to top, the chambers are the firebox, water pan, and the smoking box. Another merit of this smoker is that they weigh less than 50 pounds, which is the lightest in this segment.

Horizontal smoker: These are some of the most professional smokers in the world. If you know everything about the smoking process, then, this smoker is the perfect match for you. It is a two-part smoker. The first part contains the cooking chamber, where you put the meat and let it get smoked over time.

The second part is the firebox, where you light up the fire with raw material like coal. In this smoker, you can refill the wood chips without opening the cooking chamber. Also, you can use a grill in this smoker, which makes it unique as compared to other smokers.

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Box smokers: These are also known as cabinet smokers. Though they provide similar features like other smokers of turkey, they have a disadvantage over them. Since the source of heat is located inside the box, you have to open the cooking chamber to refill the wood chips.

Electric smoker: These are some of the most commonly used smokers at home. They have a compact design and digital control, which them convenient to use. The only comedown is that you might not get the smoky flavor like in charcoal or gas smokers.

Kamado grills: These smokers were introduced in Japan. They have a separate grill system that makes them easy to use while cooking the most delicate smoked turkey meat.

Drum smokers: This is another classical smoker, which is used even now. The drum-like structure allows the smoke to get out slowly from the hole on the top face.

These were some commons designs of smokers in the market. All of them are productive smokers and highly reliable. Besides this, smokers are further sub-divided into categories based on the fuel used in them. However, for cooking a turkey, gas smokers are considered highly reliable. They add the essential flavors for the perfect smoked turkey meat. Also, they are highly convenient to use as the temperature can be maintained easily.

Smoked turkey – Techniques/Tips to Improve

Smoked turkey - Techniques/Tips to Improve


Cooking a turkey requires experience and the right guidance. If you don’t have either of these, then you might end up with a bad flavored turkey, which can spoil the whole mood. Hence, it is very crucial to know these techniques.

How much to stuff the turkey?

This is a question, which most people neglect as they are unaware of the importance of it. Stuffing is one of the main factors behind the taste and amount of smoke a turkey in the meat. Yes, you heard it right; it controls the smoke a turkey in the meat. Nowadays, people believe in the concept of more stuffing. Hence, they overstuff the turkey to get the desired taste, but they end up with a foul taste.

Make sure you stuff the turkey just below the moderate level. Why? You may ask. The reason behind that is if you do not entirely stuff the turkey then, smoke can smoothly enter it. It leads to a better blend of smoke and meat, which leads to a delicious taste.

Select organic turkey

The increase in demand for meat has led to the use of injections for those cooking a turkey. Due to this, the practice of plumping has come into existence. Pumping means injecting the meat with a salt solution to increase its weight and taste. Though this might sound good for your tongue, it is not suitable for your health. Hence, try to choose a lump of meat that has not been plumped.

How? Simply based on their weight. Yes, the ideal weight of a turkey varies between three kilograms to seven kilograms. If there is a lump of meat above this category then, it is probably a plumped one. It will not only increase your energy but additionally lead to the traditional taste of the meat.

Use different chips

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This one might shock you. Different types of meat require different kinds of chips. Yes, a wood chip that you are using to smoke a chicken is not the right chip to smoke a turkey. You need to get some new chips. Though the process of smoking turkey remains the same, some components change as per the meat you are smoking.

While smoking the turkey meat, you need to use chips with low fragrance or intensity. Since high-intensity chips overpower the taste of turkey, you need to find a chip that balances the taste of turkey. We recommend you to go for hardwoods like apple, oak, and olive. They will stand up to your expectations.

This will be a test of your patience

While almost everyone loves to eat the smoky meat of turkey, the cooking process is quite long. If you want to cook as per your expectations, then we would recommend you to cook with patience. Many people fail to do this, and they end up blaming the smoker. However, the smoking of one pound of meat takes about 30 minutes.

Keep checking the internal temperature

There are various instances where people follow the recipe, but due to a change in temperature of the smoker, the meat burns off. Hence, to avoid a situation like this, we would recommend you to use a thermometer to check the temperature inside the turkey. The temperature should be almost equal. You must check the surface of the turkey. It will help you to get a lump of delicious smoky turkey meat in the end.

How to smoke a turkey – Correcting Common Problems

Here are some of the most usually faced problems while cooking a turkey.

Soaking the wood chips before using them

This is the most common mistake that people do while cooking a turkey meal. They soak the chips. Most people believe that soaking chips in water will lead to a higher amount of smoke in the meat. This is a complete myth. Soaking the chips does not affect the amount of smoke in the meat. Either you soak it or not, smoke produces remains. Let us understand with an example of milk. We all use milk in our day to life.

Now, suppose the concentration of fluid is 100 particles per liter. Now, you added 1 liter of water to that milk. What will happen? Will the number of particles per liter increase? No. The amount will reduce to 50 particles per liter. Similar is the case with chips. Though you might see more smoke after soaking a chip, that is entirely water vapors. The reason behind the smoked taste is the number of particles present in the wood chips.


Always preheat the gas smoker before placing the turkey to prevent the meat from getting burnt. Preheating delivers a temperature consistency for the turkey, which results in the great texture of the turkey meat. If you would place the turkey directly in the gas smoker without preheating it, then there are increased chances of the turkey meat getting burnt due to the inconsistent temperature environment.


Basting is an essential step as it allows you to infuse the desired flavor and taste in the meat for a lip-smacking delicacy. It is advisable to cut the turkey meat in uniform slices and spread the seasoning mix or BBQ sauce on both sides of the meat with the help of a basting brush. However, you can bast the turkey by evenly applying the BBQ sauce on its full body.

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How long to smoke a turkey – best practices in the industry

  • The bird must be below 4.4°C before cooking it. This does not let unhealthy bacteria to grow on it during cooking time.
  • When considering the cooking time, keep in mind the top brine of the turkey for several hours. It will lead to soft and tender turkey meat in the end, which you will surely love.
  • The smoke should be clean. If it is not then, either your fuel is not cleaned, or the smoker has some impurities in it. Try to clean it before and after cooking.

Smoked turkey recipe – Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to cook a turkey in a smoker?

The answer to this question depends on various factors. Some factors like temperature, the quantity of wood, water can be controlled to increase or decrease the period. However, through our research, we came to know about the specific period required. A smoked turkey can be cooked within an hour in a smoker. Yes, here we are considering the weight slightly less than moderate and assuming that the temperature is ideal.

However, there are diverse ways to reduce this period. One of them is to increase the temperature. This step, though, leads to quick-cooking but increases the chances of the burning of the meat. Hence, we would recommend you to cook with the ideal temperature that may be available in the recipe you are following.

How long does it take a turkey to bake at 225 F?

Let us assume an ideal time here. Suppose you have pound meat smoked turkey. How much think will it take a long time to cook? At perfect temperature, it takes a time of little above twenty minutes, but here the temperature is at 225, which is quite low. Generally, at this internal temperature, a whole turkey takes a time of more than thirty minutes to cook.

How long does it take to smoke a turkey?

The time to cook a whole turkey breast entirely depends on the internal temperature. Let us discuss how long it will take for the turkey to be cooked properly. At 225°F, each pound of turkey takes about thirty minutes per pound to cook. At 235°F, it takes a time of about 25 minutes per pound to cook a smoked turkey. Let roast over indirect heat for 45-60 minutes per pound of smoked turkey. In the end, at 275°F, it will take about twenty minutes per pound to smoke a pound of turkey.

Therefore, it will take the time of fewer than four hours to cook 12-pound of smoked turkey breast. Hence, it will take about five hours of indirect heat to cook 12-pound of turkey breast. These were the ideal estimates for a cooking time of turkey. However, these statistics change based on the type of smokers used to cook a turkey. Electric smokers provide better control over the internal temperature due to the digital panel, while gas smokers can provide better flavor in the meat.

Section 7: Tools you can use

Here are some essential tools that you must have before cooking a lump of meat in a smoker.

  • Wood chips (Choose your favorite)
  • Gloves (Safety of hands)
  • Thermometer (To know the temperature inside the meat)
  • Foil (In case of the electric smoker)