Smoking a turkey in a gas smoker is a great way to infuse the bird with a delicious smoky flavor. And as someone who was once so terrified of smoking turkeys, too, I can tell you (with a huge relief) that it’s actually not as difficult as it may seem.
With some preparation and a bit of patience, you can create a mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkey that will impress your family and friends. In this article, I’ll share my tips and tricks for making the best smoked turkey in a gas smoker.
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Preparing the Turkey
Much of the magic of smoking a turkey lies in the preparation, so here are the easy and painless steps to make sure your turkey is prepped perfectly for the smoker.
Thawing The Turkey
Before smoking a turkey, it is essential to completely thaw it unless you’re using a fresh turkey. I usually take my frozen turkey out of the freezer two or three days (depending on its size and freshness) before I plan to smoke it and place it in the refrigerator to thaw slowly. A good rule of thumb is to allow it to thaw for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
You can also let the turkey thaw in cold water if you’re short on time. Place the turkey in a sink or large container and cover the whole turkey with cold water. Drain and refill the water every half an hour until the turkey is completely thawed.
Brining the Turkey
Brining the turkey is an optional step, but it can add a lot of flavor and moisture to the meat. To brine the turkey, you’ll need a large container or plastic bag with enough space to hold the turkey and the brine. There are many different brine recipes available, but a basic brine consists of water, salt, sugar, and spices.
I usually use a ratio of 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of sugar (usually brown sugar), and 1 gallon of water. You can add herbs, garlic, or other seasonings to the brine for extra flavor. Place the turkey in the brine and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.
Seasoning the Turkey
Before smoking the turkey, you’ll want to season it with your favorite spices and herbs. I like to keep it simple with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can also use a dry rub or inject the turkey with a marinade for extra flavor. If you’re using a dry rub, be sure to rub it all over the whole bird, including under its skin and inside the cavity.
If you inject the turkey, use a meat injector to inject the marinade into the meat in several places.
There are no real limits to the different herbs and spices you can use during this step. Some people like adding olive oil to the mix, so feel free to do that. If you have some old family recipe for the perfect turkey, that will work perfectly!
Preparing the Gas Smoker
While the turkey is getting ready to be smoked, you can start preparing your grill.
Cleaning the Smoker
Before smoking your turkey, it’s essential to clean your smoker to ensure it’s free of any debris or leftover food particles. I usually start by removing the grill grates and washing them with warm soapy water. Then, I use a grill brush to scrub the inside of the smoker, paying close attention to any hard-to-reach areas.
This is especially important if you’re using a charcoal grill, but you shouldn’t neglect this step, even if you’re using a gas smoker or an electric smoker.
Once the inside is clean, I wipe down the exterior of the smoker with a damp cloth.
Adding Wood Chips
Next, it’s time to add your wood chips to the smoker. I prefer to use hickory or apple wood chips for smoking turkey, but you can use whatever flavor you like best. Cherrywood is also a popular option. Soak the wood chips in some water for about half an hour before you add them to the smoker. This will help them smolder and smoke more effectively.
Once the chips are soaked, spread them out evenly in the wood chip box or tray, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Of course, adjust these instructions as necessary if you’re using a pellet grill.
Preheating the Smoker
Before adding your turkey to the smoker, you’ll need to preheat it to the correct temperature. I usually set my gas smoker to 225-250°F. Once the smoker is preheated, it’s time to add your turkey.
The steps will depend on the type of smoker you’re using, so remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using your gas grill. This will ensure that you’re using it safely and effectively. With a clean smoker, soaked wood chips, and a preheated smoker, you’re ready to start smoking your turkey!
Smoking A Turkey in A Gas Smoker
Now that we’ve prepped our turkey, it’s time to smoke it. Smoking a turkey in a gas smoker is a great way to infuse the bird with flavor and make it juicy and tender. Here are the steps I follow to smoke a turkey in a gas smoker:
Placing Turkey in the Gas Smoker
Once your gas smoker is preheated, it’s time to place your turkey in the smoker. Be sure to place the turkey breast side up on the grates. You can also set a tray or drip pan in the bottom of the smoker to catch the turkey drippings. If you are using temperature probes, place them in the breast and thigh of the turkey to monitor the temperature.
Monitoring the Temperature
It’s so important to monitor the turkey’s temperature while it’s smoking. You want to make sure it’s cooking evenly and not getting too dry. Keep an eye on the temperature probes and adjust the temperature of the smoker as needed to maintain a consistent temperature. Aim for a temperature of around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit for a slow and steady cook.
It’s also important to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey. The turkey is perfectly done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the turkey’s breast and thigh.
Basting the Turkey
Basting the turkey with its own juices can add flavor and moisture to the meat. But be careful not to open the smoker too often, as this can cause the temperature to drop and increase the cooking time. If you do choose to baste the turkey, do it quickly and efficiently to avoid losing too much heat.
Overall, smoking a turkey in a gas smoker is a great way to prepare a holiday turkey so it comes out juicy and tender every time.
Finishing the Turkey
Now the hard part is done, and it’s almost time to start enjoying your handiwork! There are just a few final steps left.
Checking the Temperature
After smoking the turkey for the recommended time, it’s crucial to check the internal temperature to ensure it’s fully cooked. I usually check the temperature using a meat thermometer. The turkey is ready when the internal temperature inside the thickest part of the meat reaches 165°F. The smoking process could take up to 12 hours, but it can be closer to 8 hours for smaller turkeys.
Resting the Turkey
Once the turkey is fully cooked, it’s essential to let it rest (preferably at room temperature) for at least 20 minutes before carving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it juicier and more flavorful. I usually cover the turkey with aluminum foil to keep it warm while it rests.
Carving the Turkey
Carving a turkey can be intimidating, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. First, remove the legs and wings by cutting through the joints. Then, carve the breast meat by slicing it along the breastbone. Finally, remove the remaining meat from the bones and serve. To make carving even easier, consider using an electric knife. It will make clean, precise cuts and save you time.
Smoking a turkey in a gas smoker is a delicious and easy way to cook a turkey. By following the steps mentioned in this article, you’ll have a perfectly smoked turkey to impress all your guests!
How to Smoke A Turkey in A Gas Smoker
- One whole turkey (approximately 12-14 lbs)
- 2 cups your preferred wood chips (e.g., hickory,applewood)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp paprika
- Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) for stuffing the turkey cavity
- 1 large onion , quartered (for stuffing the turkey cavity)
- 2 cups chicken or turkey broth
- Prep the Smoker: Preheat your gas smoker to 225 degrees F (107 degrees C). While the smoker is heating, soak your chosen wood chips in water for about 30 minutes, then drain.
- Prep the Turkey: Remove the turkey's innards, rinse the turkey well, and pat it dry. Brush the turkey with olive oil, then rub it all over with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
- Stuff the Turkey: Stuff the turkey's cavity with the fresh herbs and quartered onion.
- Smoke the Turkey: Place the turkey in the smoker. Fill the smoker's water tray with the chicken or turkey broth, then add the soaked, drained wood chips to the smoker's wood chip tray.
- Cooking Time: Close the smoker. The turkey should smoke for about 30-40 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (73 degrees C) when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh. Keep in mind, it's essential to maintain the smoker's temperature at 225 degrees F (107 degrees C) throughout the smoking process. You may need to add more wood chips and broth as needed.
- Rest the Turkey: Once the turkey reaches the correct internal temperature, remove it from the smoker. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
- Serve: Carve the turkey and serve it warm. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time does it take to smoke a turkey in a gas smoker?
When smoking a turkey in a gas smoker, the cooking time will usually vary according to the weight of the bird and the temperature of the smoker. On average, it can take 30-35 minutes per pound to cook a turkey in a gas smoker set to 235°F. For instance, a 12-pound turkey may take about 6 hours to cook completely at 225°F.
How do you smoke a turkey in a gravity smoker?
Smoking a turkey in a gravity smoker is similar to smoking it in a gas smoker. You will need to prepare the bird by seasoning it and letting it rest overnight in the refrigerator. Then, set the temperature of the gravity smoker to 225°F, place the turkey on the grill, and let it smoke for several hours.
At what temperature do you smoke a turkey on a gas smoker?
When smoking a turkey on a gas smoker, it is recommended to set the temperature between 250-275°F. This will let the turkey cook slowly and evenly, which helps to retain moisture.
How do you smoke a turkey on a Masterbuilt gas smoker?
To smoke a turkey on a Masterbuilt gas smoker, you will need to preheat the smoker to 225°F. Then, place the turkey on the rack inside the smoker and let it smoke for a few hours, at least until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
Do you use foil when smoking a turkey?
Using foil when smoking a turkey can help keep it moist and prevent it from drying out. You can cover the turkey with foil during the first few hours of smoking, then remove it for the last hour or so to allow the skin to crisp up.
How can I keep a turkey moist while smoking it?
To keep a turkey moist while smoking it, you can baste it with its own juices or a marinade every hour or so. You can also place a pan of water or apple juice in the smoker to create moisture and also to prevent the meat from drying out.
Is it best to smoke a turkey at a temperature of 225 or 250?
When smoking a turkey, it is recommended to set the temperature between 225-250°F. This will let the turkey cook slowly and evenly, helping to retain moisture and flavor. The fact that it uses indirect heat means that the exact temperature won’t matter too much as long as it’s within that range.
Is it possible to overcook a turkey in a smoker?
Yes, you can overcook a turkey in a smoker. The most important thing is to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey and remove it from the smoker when it reaches at least 165°F. Overcooking can result in dry, tough meat.
Do I need to flip the turkey in the smoker?
No, you do not need to flip the turkey in the smoker. The heat and smoke will circulate around the turkey, cooking it evenly on all sides. Flipping the turkey can also cause it to fall apart or lose its juices.
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Did you enjoy learning how to smoke a turkey in a gas smoker? If you try it, let me know what you think! Or take a picture and share it on Instagram by tagging @dwellbymichelle so I can repost it on my stories!
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