Ultimate Smoked Turkey: What Temperature to Smoke Turkey

The best temp for smoked turkey is between 275°F and 300°F which yields great-tasting turkey in a reasonable amount of time. If you want to slow-smoke turkey, you can lower the temperature to 225°F. The longer turkey stays in the smoker, the stronger the smoke flavor will be.

How to Smoke a Turkey: Temperature Range

Turkey can be smoked at different temperatures and still taste incredible. The higher the temperature of the smoke, the less time it will take to cook the turkey thoroughly.

Use the parameters below to figure out your optimal cook time.

250 Degrees F for 45 Minutes per Pound

With a smoker temperature of 225 to 250 degrees, you should expect to cook your meat for 30 to 45 minutes per pound. This temperature range will yield a juicy bird with a strong smoke flavor.

275 Degrees F for 30 Minutes per Pound

When smoking at 275 degrees, allow 20 to 30 minutes per pound. Turkey will still be juicy but will have a lighter smoke flavor.

325 Degrees F for 20 Minutes per Pound

It will take about 15 to 20 minutes per pound if your smoker is capable of maintaining 325 degrees. Moist turkey is still possible at this temperature if you keep an eye on it. This temperature will get you the crispest skin but only a light smoke flavor.

It should be noted that these time frames are only estimates. A meat thermometer is the most reliable way to determine whether a turkey is cooked to perfection based on its internal temperature.

How Do You Know When Your Smoked Turkey is Done?

Timing is everything in life and in the kitchen. If you wait too long, you may run the risk of drying your turkey out, but if you remove the turkey from the smoker too soon, your bird may not be safe to eat.

The best way to determine when a turkey is done is to use an accurate meat thermometer. The USDA recommends that all parts of the turkey reach a minimum temperature of 165°F before they can be considered safe for consumption.

There are different types of thermometers you can use to measure your turkey’s temp. The ideal thermometer for use in a smoker is a remote, dual-probe thermometer. During the smoking process, one probe remains in the meat while the other is clipped to the grate in order to measure the temperature within the smoke chamber.

By using the remote unit, you will be able to monitor the temperature of both the smoker and the turkey from a distance of up to 300 feet away. In addition, you will not have to open the smoker in order to check the temperature, which will reduce the cooking time.

How Long Should Your Smoked Turkey Rest?

Always let your turkey rest! After smoking a turkey, let it rest for 15 minutes to 30 minutes. You may find that the breast meat is juicier if you position the turkey breast side down while it rests. 

Wrap the smoked turkey loosely in aluminum foil and place it in a clean pan or on a platter while resting. If you need to store the turkey for a period of time before serving, you may place it in a dry cooler, covering it with a few clean paper towels or a blanket before closing the lid.

Is it Better to Smoke a Turkey at 225 or 250?

It depends on your specific needs. You can smoke your turkey at 225 or 250, but at 225 it will take a bit longer and will deliver a final product with more smoke flavor than if you do it at 250. It is up to you to decide which temp is better depending on how much total time you can allow for it to smoke.

Is Turkey Done at 165 or 180?

A turkey is ready to serve if it registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast. 

Be sure to insert the thermometer deep into the turkey without touching the bone as that will render your reading inaccurate. The center of the stuffing should also be 165 degrees F if the turkey is stuffed. 

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a 12-pound Turkey at 250 degrees?

In order to ensure that your turkey will be ready for dinner by dinnertime, you should begin smoking it early in the day. Generally, it takes at least six hours to smoke an average-sized 12-lb turkey at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended that you cook your turkey for approximately 30 minutes per pound.

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Smoked turkey about to be carved

Ultimate Smoked Turkey Recipe

  • Total Time: 9 hours


In this recipe for smoked turkey, a whole turkey is coated with a homemade spice rub and slow-smoked until it is tender and juicy. It is an easy and impressive holiday main course that requires no oven space and will deliver you the best turkey.

This recipe is for a pellet smoker that uses wood chunks to get that smoky flavor but can work with an electric smoker. The time the turkey cooks will be different depending on the type of smoker you use.

Either way, you will keep tabs on the turkey temperature by using a meat thermometer. Once the internal temp is 170°F to 180°F in its center, you are finished. The final product will have crispy skin either way!


Units Scale
  • 12 lb Turkey (giblets/neck removed)
  • 1/2 cup Barbecue Rub
  • 1 whole onion (quartered)
  • 1 whole lemon (quartered)
  • 4 sprigs fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary, tarragon)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • cooking spray
  • Butcher's twine


  1. Preheat smoker to 250°F
  2. Load the smoker with apple or cherry wood chips.
  3. Coat a large aluminum pan with cooking spray. Place the turkey in the pan and tuck the wings under the body of the bird.
  4. Stuff the cavity with a mixture of onion, lemon, and herbs. Tie the legs together with the butcher’s twine to hold in the stuffing.
  5. Sprinkle rub all over the surface of the turkey. Place the turkey in the smoker and allow it to smoke for 6 to 7 hours.
  6. Baste the turkey with chicken broth every 30 to 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F.
  7. Refill the wood chips as needed to achieve your desired smoke flavor.
  8. If the turkey begins to get overly dark, cover it with foil to protect the skin.
  9. Allow turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before transferring it to a serving plate.
  10. Garnish with herbs and serve!
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 8 hours


Florida native, home to the Sunday all-day poolside grilling party. When I’m not working, I’m either on the water, minding the grill, or trying to devote some time to help keep our oceans clean.

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