How to Smoke a Turkey: Tutorial, Tips, and a Sauce Recipe

Disclosure: Today’s post is sponsored by We Love Fire. The opinions are my own.

With Halloween coming up this week, Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Today I’m getting ahead of the game and sharing a tutorial on how to smoke a turkey.  At our house, we cook a lot of meats.  We only do turkey 2 or 3 times a year, and at this point we have cooked it by smoking/grilling, baking, and frying.  Today we are going to specifically talk about smoking a turkey.  I’ve got tips to help you get a moist and flavorful turkey, and I’ve also got a recipe for Southern White Sauce, which is MUST have item in our house when we are having smoked turkey or chicken.

If you are looking for a new grill or smoker this holiday season I Love Fire has a fantastic guide for you.

To begin cooking a turkey, you want to make sure your bird is thawed out completely.  We usually have ours in the fridge for a few days before it is thawed.  This is the safest method for thawing.  If it is the day you are cooking, and your bird still isn’t thawed, then I recommend placing it in an empty sink and letting it thaw naturally there.

After your turkey is thawed, place it in a roasting pan.  At this time you can inject it with a marinade of your choice or even some dry herbs of your choice.  We always inject ours with creole butter, and in inject it several times all over the bird.  This gives the turkey a great flavor and also helps to keep it moist.

After injecting it, you can season the outside with your choice of seasoning.  We used a barbecue poultry rub we had.  You could also use Cajun seasoning, or just any kind of of rub you have on hand.  If you don’t have a rub, simply use a few spices you have on hand.  (I suggest any of the following: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika cayenne pepper, dried thyme, dried parsley, dried basil.)

Next place your turkey on the smoker in a roasting plan.  (We are using a pellet smoker here, and we cooked our turkey breast side up!)

The temperature and times were for a 12 to 15 pound turkey.  You should adjust your times accordingly for a smaller or larger bird.

We placed the entire roasting pan inside the smoker and cooked it at 250 degrees for 2 hours UNCOVERED.  Then we removed it from the smoker.  We turned the smoker up to 350 degrees, COVERED the turkey aluminum foil and placed the roasting pan with turkey back on the smoker.  Then continue to cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.


Remove the turkey from the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting. Serve with your choice of sauce or gravy and your favorite sides. (Here are a few Thanksgiving sides you may like. And don’t forget dessert.)

We also like to serve our smoked turkeys and chicken with Southern White Sauce.  Check out the recipe below!


Also, check out We Love Fire for grilling ideas, tips, and more!

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