best wood for smoking turkey

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey [2022]

Who doesn’t love turkey? I am sure there are some people, but not around here. Everyone I know loves smoked turkey! Of course, Christmas and Thanksgiving are the times when everyone thinks about eating turkey but why restrict yourself to just a couple of holidays? Turkey tastes great any time of year!

To get the absolute smoked turkey you need to make sure that you use the best wood for smoking turkey. Not all woods work well with this delicate meat so it is important to choose the right wood or wood chips.

Let’s take a look at the best types of wood for smoking turkey

1. Cherry

cherry wood for smoking

Cherry wood for smoking provides a great touch of sweetness to your meal. When you smoke turkey for several hours using cherry wood, your turkey will develop a nice deep color and will be a standout meal. You can use hickory too with a combination of cherry. It will give some complexity to your smoked turkey. It will highly compliment the cherry wood for smoking.

Cherry-infused wood will provide clean burning with a great flavor. Check out our guide to the best electric smoker for smoked turkey (and remember you need to use wood chips, not wood pellets).

2. Pecan

best wood for smoking turkey

Pecan wood for smoking is another great choice like cherry giving a sweet taste to your meal. It is great in terms of rich flavor and gives a nut-like layer to your smoked turkey. It is somewhat more powerful than cherry so if you are unsatisfied with cherry wood, you have this great option of pecan.

It is better to test pecan wood first and see how your turkey meal reacts to it. You don’t want to ruin your meal. To me, pecan is already rich enough so you don’t need to add it with other woods.

3. Maple

maple wood for smoking

Maple is another option that is far more subtle than its other sweet counterparts. Maple adds a delicate layer of flavor to the turkey. It not only adds a touch of flavor but also has all the natural flavors you want in your turkey meal.

Maple wood is also recommended for ribs and all sorts of other meat so you can make it a go-to wood for everything. It is a great alternative if cherry and pecan are too strong for you.

4. Apple

apple wood for smoking

If you want a sweet and fruity wood then apple wood is the choice for you. It is famous for providing a much more mellow flavor compared to pecan or cherry wood for smoking. It is considered the best wood for smoking turkey by many professional pitmasters and we respect their opinion. The flavors in apple are so subtle, that it will take a long time to permeate the turkey meat and infuse it with applewood flavor.

Smoked turkey can be prone to drying out when you cook it so it is important to get your temperatures right.  You need to smoke turkey at a low temperature so it is a good idea to use apple wood as it burns at a lower temperature than some woods.

5. Mesquite

mesquite wood for smoking

Mesquite wood can also be a good choice of wood to smoke turkey because it’s overall a beautiful wood. It is especially great for smoking traditional BBQ. It has been associated with red meats for a long. time and its strong flavor is a bit controversial when it comes to turkey.  It has a strong and robust wood flavor which is best for smoking turkey and brisket. For striking a balance, I usually use only a little mesquite to avoid completely overpowering the natural turkey flavors.

6. Hickory

best wood for smoking

There is always a talk of hickory vs. mesquite. This is because hickory is also a deep earthy wood used as a base layer for different types of meats. It has a distinctive texture making it an indisputably classic wood. Hickory smoked turkey makes a great meal so give it a try!

7. Oak

oak wood

Oak is another example of one of the best woods to smoke a turkey. Again, it also is a variety of wood with deep flavor but compared to mesquite and hickory, it’s a bit lighter. It’s best to combine oak with cherry to create a more nuanced flavor.

Also Check: Best Charcoal for Smoking, Best wood for smoking ribs

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey – FAQs

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1. How much wood should be used for smoking turkey?

There is no rule about the amount of wood for smoked turkey. I usually add 5 ounces of wood for smoking turkey. You should keep in mind other things like temperature, smoker size, and cooking time. These are all important variables that will impact your meal. I usually start with 5 ounces and if the wood isn’t imparting the required flavor, add some more.

2. How long to smoke a turkey for?

As a general guide, you should smoke for 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. You can smoke at 225°F/107°C. When the internal temperature reaches 165°F, your turkey will be ready.

3. Does smoked turkey require presoaked woods?

If you ask me I don’t do it. I believe that water can’t penetrate the surface of wood as easily as its thought. Moreover, there will be steam which will interfere with your coals and smoke.

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