Smoked Turkey cooked in a Pellet Grill is one of the best ways to cook a turkey. Smoking a turkey will help it stay moist and full of flavor for the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner.
Chad (my husband) loves smoking meats. He's been doing it for a few years now.
Well, this summer he upgraded from his off-set smoker to a pellet smoker. So, we had to try a Smoked Turkey to get ready for Thanksgiving!
Smoked Turkey is one of our favorite ways to cook and prepare a whole turkey now.
We both grew up with oven-baked turkey or turkey cooked in a roaster. If you want that recipe check out my How to Cook a Turkey post.
This Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Smoker is an easy recipe to set up, and allow your pellet grill to do all the work!
How to Smoke a Whole Turkey:
There are many different ways to smoke a turkey.
- Low and slow: You can smoke them low and slow at around 225 or 250 degrees to maximize the smoke taste.
- Faster: You can also smoke a turkey faster at 325 degrees.
Either way the turkey will taste amazing and be super flavorful and juicy. The nice thing about a pellet smoker/grill is you can really choose how you want your turkey to be cooked.
Prep the turkey: Prepare your turkey for the smoker by rubbing the butter rub under the skin. Season it before putting it on the smoker
Smoke the meat: Allow it to cook and enjoy your wonderful Smoked Turkey in a few hours.
What Temperature should your Smoke or Grill a Turkey for?
At 225 degrees you want to cook your turkey for about 40 minutes a pound.
At 250 degrees you will want to cook the turkey for about 30 minutes a pound.
At 325 degrees you will want to cook the turkey for about 15 minutes a pound.
Cooking time will vary depending on how big your bird is. Using an internal thermometer to watch your temperature is a must for this process to work the best.
- Whole Turkey: For this recipe my turkey was around 8 pounds.
- Butter: Use unsalted that is at room temperature.
- Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest: To zest a lemon use a citrus zester or cheese grater. Move your whole lemon up and down on the smaller holes.
- Poultry Seasoning - I used Meat Church's The Gospel All-Purpose Rub for the turkey. Use whatever brand or seasoning is your favorite. Or down below I will give the directions if you want to make your own.
These step-by-step instructions will help you make the best Turkey you have ever had.
Step One - Mix together your butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl.
Step Two - Spread your butter mixture under the skin of the turkey. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour to allow the butter to reset.
Why do you put butter on a turkey before cooking it?
Butter helps keep the turkey moist and also adds great flavor. When your butter is seasoned it also brings out a great flavor in the turkey.
Be sure to wear gloves when buttering a turkey. Gently lift the skin and spread the butter under it as far as you can.
Start at the breast in the front and back and get as much as you can under the skin. Be care not to tear the skin (as you can see happened to our turkey).
Use all the butter and spread it all over the turkey under the skin and on the skin.
Step Three - Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees.
How to season a turkey:
Seasoning a turkey is key to locking in a great flavor.
Seasoning has come a long way in the BBQ world and there are a lot of companies and brands out there that make great seasoning and flavors.
Use whatever brand is your favorite. I again used Meat Church's All Purpose Rub for this turkey.
You can even mix your own seasoning if you want. The essential ingredients you want in a seasoning are:
Step Four - Sprinkle and rub on your seasoning over the entire turkey.
Step Five - Place the whole turkey right on the grates of your grill. Insert the thermometer into thickest portion of the turkey (near the breast and innermost portion of the thigh).
Step Six - Smoke for about 4 hours checking the temperature. You want the internal temperature of the turkey to be 165 degrees.
- Optional Tip: For added moisture place an aluminum pan filled with chicken broth in one of the corners of your smoker to allow that to help keep the turkey moist.
Step Seven - Allow the finished turkey to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.
Do you need to brine your turkey before smoking it?
This Whole Smoked Turkey is smoked on a pellet grill and no brine is needed for this recipe!
Chad chose not to brine this turkey as he chose to use the lemon-infused butter to keep the turkey moist.
Chad does not like the added salt that brining a turkey brings to the turkey, so he typically goes the butter route when he makes turkeys.
The seasoned butter honestly helps a nice crust form on the bird from smoking it.
What is brining a turkey?
Brining a turkey is when you soak a thawed turkey typically overnight before cooking it to give the turkey added moisture from the water and salt.
The salt also helps break down some of the muscle protein to also helps lock in moisture during the cooking process.
What kind of pellets do you use when smoking a turkey?
You generally want a lighter fruitier smoke when smoking poultry. Chad used RecTeq Apple and Ultimate Blend pellets for this smoke. He uses the Ultimate Blend for almost all his smokes. He upgraded to the RecTeq RT700 Pellet Smoker this past summer.
Do you need to baste a Smoked Turkey?
When using his old offset smoker, basting a turkey was a must. The heat in an offset smoker has to be watched constantly and you can quickly dry out your turkey if you are not careful.
In a pellet smoker the heat is controlled by the fan and heat source. It is very easy to monitor and watch.
You can baste the turkey with chicken broth if you want. I would only recommend once an hour. Mainly because with a pellet grill you do not want to keep opening the lid during the cook process as you will lose heat that way and burn through more pellets.
If you follow our tip above with putting in an aluminum pan of chicken broth inside the smoker you do not need to baste the turkey at all.
Try some of these sides that go with Thanksgiving Dinner:
Corn Pudding - This Corn Pudding is a southern classic. Made with sweet corn and cream corn then baked to perfection. This recipe will be on your table often!
Green Bean Casserole - The BEST Green Bean Casserole and so simple to make. Made with just three simple ingredients and some seasonings, this dish is the perfect side.
Cheesy Potato Casserole - I have to limit making this Cheesy Potato Casserole to holiday time, or when guests are over because I could eat up the entire thing!
Try some of Chad's other Smoker recipes:
Smoked Ribs (3-21 Method) - These Smoked Ribs are smoked to perfection. They are full of flavor and slathered in our favorite BBQ Sauce. Smoked for 6 hours the ribs are tender and fall right off the bone!
Smoked Pork Butt - This Smoked Pork Butt (also known as Smoked Pork Shoulder) is amazing, and after a long day of smoking and tending the smoker.
Smoked Mac and Cheese - This Smoked Mac and Cheese is rich and creamy, topped with Panko breadcrumbs and smoked on a smoker for a couple hours to add a great smokey flavor.
If you tried any of my recipes, I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below. You can also connect with me on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST. I would love for you to follow along and discover more amazing recipes.
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- Pellet Smoker
- 1 Whole Turkey 8 pounds
- 1 Stick Butter Unsalted and Room Temperature
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Lemon Zest
- ½ cup Poultry Seasoning
- Mix together your butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl.
- Spread your butter mixture under the skin of the turkey. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour to allow the butter to reset.
- Preheat your smoker to 325 degrees.
- Sprinkle and rub on your seasoning over the entire turkey.
- Place the whole turkey right on the grates of your grill. Insert the thermometer into thickest portion of the turkey (near the breast and innermost portion of the thigh).
- Smoke for about 3 hours checking the temperature. You want the internal temperature of the turkey to be 165 degrees.
- Allow the finished turkey to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.