How to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill

How To Smoke A Turkey On A Pellet Grill

Last Updated on February 20, 2022

Traditional roast turkey is delicious, but it pales in contrast to a bird that has been smoked for hours over wood pellets.

And, who wants a full-sized turkey using up oven space? With a wood pellet smoker grill, you can leave your turkey to slowly smoke for hours without having to do a thing. Then you can sit back and enjoy the feast!

In this article, we will teach you all you need to know about cooking the perfect turkey on your pellet grill or smoker.

Not only do we have a super easy recipe for you to follow, but we’ll also go through the different types of wood and equipment you’ll need in order to achieve the best results. 

Let’s get cooking!

How To Prepare The Turkey

So much of the success of your smoked turkey rely on the preparation you put in. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind as you lay those flawless culinary foundations. 

To truss or not to truss? 

Image of trussed and un-trussed turkeyIt’s commonly thought that you should truss a turkey while smoking it, even if it means confronting a deluge of abuse, we’re going to argue against it.

In a whole turkey, there are two sorts of flesh: dark and light, each with its own ideal temperature. Light breast meat should be cooked to 165°F, whereas dark flesh should be cooked to 175°F. 

The breast flesh is exposed when the meat is trussed, meaning that both the light and dark meats are cooked to the same temperature.

This is not ideal. Allowing it to sit at room temperature will allow each part to reach its optimum temperature on its own.

To stuff or not to stuff?

Unlike oven-roasted turkey, pellet smoked turkey is best served unstuffed. We want to be able to obtain as much smoke and air as possible, so herbs and rubs are preferable.

Many people, however, slice up an onion and apple into halves along with a piece of celery and place these into the bird which will still allow air and smoke to penetrate into the turkey.

Brining your turkey overnight might aid its moisture retention while it smokes. Many people just baste their meat, but this only moistens it on the surface, whereas brining moistens it far more deeply.

Brine your turkey overnight in the refrigerator for the best results. This is because cold meat absorbs smoke more effectively than room-temperature meat.

Pan or rack?

Contrary to common opinion, you should not smoke your turkey in a roasting pan. Meat is typically cooked in roasting pans to keep it moist, however, your bird will become moist simply because you’re smoking it slowly and at low heat.

Instead, it should be placed directly on your pellet smoker’s rack or grate. The roasting pan will be filled with water and placed beneath the grill grates, about three inches away from the chicken.

This will serve as a water pan, keeping the moisture in the grill chamber by producing steam. This steam will keep our turkey moist without drowning it, so it also gets that all-important crispy skin.

How To Choose The Best Wood

Using wood pellets is a healthier and more efficient smoking method than using gas or charcoal. That being said, getting the right pellets for your specific cook is crucial.

Some burn for longer, and some burn hotter, and the different woods bring different smoky flavors.

Depending on the meat you’re smoking, you will require different pellets. You don’t want to waste money on pellets that aren’t compatible with your grill or are of poor quality.


Milder woods with sweeter flavors are best for turkey. Consider woods such as maple, apple, cherry, or pecan. Mix your chosen wood with oak or hickory to give it a smokey flavor, but be careful not to overpower the natural flavors of the turkey meat.

The best burn and flavor come from hardwoods, fruit-woods, and nut woods manufactured specifically for smoking.

Cooking time

While many recipes call for a certain cooking time, meat is only done when it’s done, and internal temperature is the most reliable indicator.

A turkey’s breast flesh should have attained a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. We suggest a wireless meat thermometer so that you can monitor the progress of your pellet smoked meat safely and correctly from a distance.

How To Smoke a Turkey On a Pellet Grill

  • Combine 4 quarts of water and 1 cup of salt in a large container. Mix until all of the salt has dissolved. This is your brine.
  • Before roasting the turkey, remove the giblets from the cavity.
  • Place the turkey in the brine container and submerge it. Set a cover on top if you have one, or place the turkey in a brine bag and add the brining solution to it. Make sure the turkey is thoroughly submerged.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour for every pound of turkey, or brine for one hour.
  • Start the pellet grill with your preferred wood pellets. 
  • Remove the turkey from the brine and wipe it dry with paper towels to remove any excess solution.
  • Place directly or cooking foil on the grill grates, cook the turkey at 180°F. 
  • Smoke for a minimum of two hours then raise the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your meat. Cook until the breast meat reaches a temperature of 160°F.
  • Place the turkey on a chopping board or a countertop after removing it from the smoker. Allow the meat to rest in foil for 10-15 minutes to let the liquids settle into the flesh.
  • The best way to serve turkey is to dismantle it first and then carve each individual piece.

Video: How To Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill


This pellet smoked turkey dish could be the finest out there. And one of the best aspects of it is that it does not necessitate the use of any special equipment. (except maybe a digital thermometer) All you have is yourself, your turkey, and your trusty pellet barbecue.

Make the perfect BBQ turkey on your pellet smoker grill. When cooked low and slow over pecan or maple wood, this bird will be wonderfully juicy and tender!

If we missed something you think should be included contact us. We welcome all your questions, comments, and concerns as they will help make our content better for you and others.

Related Articles:
Z Grill 450A smoker grill combo review.
Z Grill 700e smoker grill combo review.
Types of grills