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Best Woods For Smoking Turkey: Flavor Your Bird

Food & Recipes, Blog

Do you like to make a smoking turkey by yourself?

Choose the best wood for smoking turkey to spice up..

…the taste of the turkey!

Tatiana likes usually makes Turkey during Thanksgiving..

Now she would like to share her story of making Turkey with you..

Let’s hear Tatiana out

My family likes to gather during Thanksgiving.

We have a tradition to cook our own Turkey!

It’s always a fun time to cook it together.

My mother always gather bunch of woods to..

…smoke the turkey. It never slips out my mind,

the aroma of the smoking turkey that lingers on my nose.

Even though we’ve been to the best Turkey restaurant in town,

it never beats the taste of turkey we made at home.

My secret is to gather the perfect mix of woods to..

…smoke the turkey. Now I own my home based..

…turkey restaurant that has been the talk of the town..

…for several years now!

Smoked meat is the result of a method of preparing red meat, white meat, and seafood which originated in the Paleolithic Era. Smoking adds flavor, improves the appearance of meat through the Maillard reaction, and when combined with curing it preserves the meat.

Smoked meat according to Wikipedia

Do you want to try to mix your own woods like Tatiana?

Do you happen to know what’s the best wood for smoking turkey?

If you haven’t or you’re just plain curious,

Check this out!

Best Woods for Smoking Turkey 

Best wood for smoking turkey
Credits: GettyImages.com

Everything you need to know about wood to smoke…

…the ideal bird at your next cookout.

One of the greatest meats to smoke is a whole turkey.

While most of us associate turkey with Thanksgiving…

…and Christmas, the fact is that a nicely smoked bird…

…maybe served any time of year.

The secret to achieving that perfect large cut of chicken…

…is to pair it with the correct kind of wood chips.

But, with flavors ranging from apple to pecan and hickory to maple,

how do you choose which one to use to complement your prize?

turkey that has been smoked In today’s tutorial,

We’ll show you how to smoke turkey with the finest wood,

…as well as some useful suggestions and recommendations.

First best wood for smoking turkey…

Best Wood For Smoking Turkey : Cherry Wood

Cherry wood adds a subtle sweetness to your bird…

..without being overwhelming. When roasted over cherry…

…for several hours, your turkey will develop a wonderful rich color,

…making it stand out from the crowd!

Consider adding a little and I mean just a touch of hickory…

…to your smoke taste if you want to add a little more depth.

This will help give a little more smoke to it, and it will go great with the cherry.

Traeger Cherry Wood Chips are a good choice for cherry wood.

These cherry-infused chips deliver clean-burning wood…

…with a delicious cherry taste. Without any chemical additives…

…or binding agents, this piece is made entirely of natural hardwood.

Pecan is a sweet-tasting wood, similar to cherry.

On the other hand, Pecan is considerably deeper…

…in taste than cherry and provides a nut-like layer of flavor to your turkey.

Pecan is a bit more strong than cherry in my opinion,

…so if cherry isn’t sweet or sharp enough for you, pecan is a good substitute.

Warning: Pecan wood maybe a touch too sweet…

…for your preferences, so do a test run first…

…to see how the turkey flesh reacts to it.

I also wouldn’t blend pecan with oak or hickory for an extra subtle taste,

…unlike cherry wood. Pecan is already a rich wood,

…so adding other “earthy” woods like hickory

…or oak might dominate the meat.

Weber Wood Pecan Chips are a good pecan wood to use.

These pecan wood chips deliver precisely…

…what we expect from pecan: a deliciously sweet and smoky

…flavor without overwhelming the inherent…

…characteristics of the turkey flesh.

Sure, this is another wood on the sweeter end…

…of the spectrum, but bear with me.

Maple hardwood, contrary to popular belief,

…is considerably more subtle than its sweet wood cousins.

It adds a light, delicate layer of flavor to turkey,

…and is a great choice should you only want a touch of flavor,

…and still want to stay faithful to the natural flavors of turkey meat.

Maple wood is my go-to for ribs and any pork cut,

…but it’s also an underappreciated hero when it comes to chicken.

If cherry or pecan seem too rich or sweet for you,

…maple is a fantastic substitute with a much milder flavor profile.

Camerons Smoking Maple Wood Chips…

…are a good choice for maple wood.

Like Weber and Traeger, Camerons is a wood chip manufacturer…

…that regularly produces high-quality wood without…

…the use of chemicals or additives.

This is nothing but natural hardwood, and it performs admirably.

This stuff is easy to light and burns at an even pace…

…to give you a steady, smoky flavor.

Applewood is another sweet and fruity wood…

…but has a much more mellow flavor when compared to cherry or pecan.

While many people would choose apple as their first option…

…for smoked turkey woods, I think that the tastes in apple smoke…

…are so subtle that they can take a long time to infiltrate…

…and flavor the turkey flesh.

The issue here is that turkey is so prone to drying out…

…that striking the ideal balance between a highly flavored bird…

…and one that hasn’t dried out is really tough with applewood turkey.

This isn’t to say it can’t be done; smoking at a lower temperature…

…often works, but if you’re new to smoking,

I’d recommend starting with the other woods on this list.

Next best wood for smoking turkey…

Best Wood For Smoking Turkey : Applewood

Weber’s products are usually worth tasting, and these applewood pieces…

…are no exception. This huge bag of applewood, subtle…

…and sweet as any fine applewood should be,

…should last you the better part of a year.

Not every taste complements every cut of meat,

…and this is especially true of turkey. It’s delicate,

…like a lot of white meat, and maybe readily overpowered by more powerful hardwoods.

So here’s a list of hardwoods that I would steer clear of while smoking turkey.

Mesquite is a lovely wood that has long been utilized…

…for traditional BBQ smoking. The issue is, it’s been used…

…for a long time with tough red meats.

It’s not difficult to understand why.

Mesquite is one of the most potent wood flavors available.

It has a strong taste, which is necessary when working with meat like brisket.

But it’s just too strong a taste for turkey,

…and it’ll overpower the other ingredients.

Some folks use a small amount of mesquite…

…and pair it with a fruitwood for balance, but I’d stay away from it entirely.

Hickory, another rich, earthy wood, is frequently used…

…as a foundation layer for a variety of meats.

While hickory is unquestionably a traditional wood, it has far too strong a taste for fowl.

Oak is a classic smoking wood with a rich flavor,

..albeit it’s a little lighter than mesquite and hickory.

It’s not frequently linked with poultry, which is understandable.

However, because it’s softer than hickory, it’s not as popular.

and mesquite, it can be used when combined with

…cherry to create a more nuanced flavor.

More best wood for smoking turkey…

Best Wood For Smoking Turkey : Hickory

Remember how we said we’d add traces of hickory wood…

…to cherry to make it more powerful? It’s simply hickory…

…in all its earthy beauty here, though.

It has a strong, unique flavor and is regarded as a smoking classic.

Still, if you’re new to turkey smoking, hickory…

…isn’t the best place to begin. Trying to figure out…

…how much wood to use to get a taste balance that…

…is acceptable can be difficult. Finding the perfect point…

…can involve some trial and error.

Hickory is also a versatile wood. It comes in a variety of tastes,

…ranging from sweet to savory. The key to obtaining …

…the correct flavor, though, is to know how you prefer your turkey.

There are just as many proponents as there are opponents….

…when it comes to soaking wood chips for smoking.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea. While the assumption…

…is that it increases the life of your chips, there is ample…

…evidence that water cannot penetrate the surface of wood…

…as rapidly as we may assume. In the meanwhile,

…the water vapor will almost definitely interfere with your coals and smoke.

After you know the best wood for smoking turkey…

…this is what you need to know!

How to Smoke a Turkey in a Wood Smoker

With the best wood for smoking turkey, now you are ready to smoke turkey!

The first step is to get your turkey ready for smoking….

A fresh turkey or a freezer turkey that has been completely…

…thawed can be used. It’s preferable to use a turkey that’s…

…between 10 and 12 pounds. When you choose a larger turkey…

…you run the risk of food safety issues. A turkey must reach…

…a temperature of 40-140 degrees F within 4 hours after being placed…

…in the smoker, otherwise it will begin to rot before it is fully cooked.

I prefer to load the cavity of my turkey with aromatics before applying…

…my homemade BBQ rub on the outside. You can brine the turkey…

…before smoking it to provide more moisture and taste.


How Many Wood Chips Should I Use?

The best wood for smoking turkey
Credits: Canva.com

Even though there is no hard and fast rule,

….I try to stick to the quantity that can fit in a smoker box.

This amount of chips is generally around 5 ounces.

Keep in mind that the pace at which your chips burn…

…is affected by factors such as temperature, smoker size, and cooking time.

Start with 5 ounces and add more if you discover…

…you’re needing to refill them too frequently…

…which will upset the internal temperature of your chamber…

…or they’re not imparting enough flavor to your turkey.

How Long Should I Smoke The Turkey?

Best wood for smoking turkey
Credits: GettyImages.com

At 225°F/107°C, cook for 30 minutes per pound of beef.

When the internal temperature of the flesh hits 165°F/73°C, your turkey is done.

Always focus on internal temperature rather than time.

See my complete guide on determining how long to smoke a turkey.

Is it necessary to soak my wood chips before smoking the turkey?

There is a lot of discussion about soaking wood chips for smoking,

…and there are just as many proponents as there are opponents.

Personally, I am not a fan of it. While the theory is that it extends…

…the life of your chips, there is plenty of data to show…

…that water cannot permeate the surface of the wood…

…as quickly as we may believe. Meanwhile,

…the vapor from the water will very certainly…

…interfere with your coals and smoke.

That’s it for the best wood for smoking turkey!

Sum Up

If you’re familiar with smoking foods with woods,

you must be familiar with cherry woods, applewoods,

..hickory, and oak woods. You can always mix them to..

…make the best mixture woods to smoke your turkey


Smoking turkey is not always about the ingredients…

…you put on the turkey, but woods to make the smoking turkey is…

…also essential. Which one is your favorite…

… Best Wood For Smoking Turkey?

Let us know by dropping a comment below!

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