The Perfect Smoked Turkey

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, this perfect smoked turkey is juicy and tender with a subtle smoky flavor. Start with a simple brine and fresh herbs to make each bite burst with flavor!

No Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey! Looking to switch things up this year? Try my oven-baked herb, air fryer, or slow cooker turkeys!

A full smoked turkey on a white plate with garnish.

Amazing Garlic Herb Smoked Turkey Recipe

We have smoked a turkey now for the past two Thanksgivings in a row and I don’t think we will ever go back! Smoking creates some of the juiciest, most amazing turkey I have ever experienced. Dry, flavorless turkey is now a thing of the past! This recipe has been foolproof for me. My turkeys have ended up moist and flavorful each time. To flavor from the inside out, I start out with a simple turkey brine to infuse the meat with flavors of citrus and herb. Then, I generously coat my turkey with my favorite blend of garlic, pepper, and aromatic Italian herbs. I like to stuff my turkey with lemons, onion, and extra herbs to flavor and help tenderize. Then it’s off to the smoker! You’re going to love how easy this is to prepare.

Truly, this smoked turkey is a lot easier than it looks. Whether you’re seasoned in the art of smoking or this is your first time, this recipe will do all of the heavy lifting! It’s super straightforward! I’ve even included a graphic below to give you temperatures and cooking times for all of your smoking endeavors. Once you start smoking your meat, you won’t want it any other way! No matter what meat you choose, it ends up soft, juicy, and deliciously smoky every time. You can find my list of smoked recipes here, with more soon to come!

Everything You Need for the Best Smoked Turkey

The best part about this smoked turkey recipe is that it uses simple ingredients from your cabinet! Thanksgiving is hectic as it is, no need to brave the grocery store! See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

  • Turkey Brine: A brine is a simple saltwater mix, but I like to add in herbs and citrus for extra flavor! It also helps to tenderize. While this step is optional, I highly recommend putting in the time for a more flavorful turkey! You can find my full recipe here.
  • Whole Turkey: Make sure the giblets and neck are removed.
  • Paprika: I love adding paprika to my turkey rub for some mild spice! It tastes amazing in contrast to the smoky flavor.
  • Garlic Powder: You can’t go wrong with garlic! Added for the perfect savory flavor.
  • Italian Seasoning: This is my personal blend of herbs like rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and basil. It upgrades whatever dish it’s added to!
  • Onion Powder: I love the hint of sharp flavor that onion powder adds to turkey.
  • Salt and Pepper: Used to enhance the smoked turkey’s overall flavor.
  • Apple: I add quartered apples to the inside of the turkey for moisture and a subtle sweet flavor.
  • Onion: Like the apples, I stuff the turkey with quartered onions to flavor from the inside out!
  • Lemon: Sliced lemons are added to the inside of the turkey for zesty flavor.
  • Fresh Rosemary: I like adding whole sprigs of rosemary inside the turkey for flavor. They also work great as a pretty garnish!

What Kind of Smoker Should I Use?

I use the Camp Chef Woodwind grill! It smokes everything to perfection! I find that it balances heat really well to make sure whatever you’re making is cooked evenly! Not to mention, it has built-in wifi so I can monitor and change temperatures on my phone! Anything that lets me keep an eye on dinner while watching Netflix is a win in my book. I highly recommend their products!

A graphic showing cooking times and temperatures for smoked meats.

How to Make the Perfect Smoked Turkey

In just 5 easy steps you can make an amazing smoked turkey, too! Trust me, this turkey is going to be the star of the show with how tender, delicate, and juicy it is! It’s always a favorite with my friends and family.

  1. (Optional) Brine and Pat Dry: Let’s get smoking! First, remove the turkey from the brine and and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Preheat Smoker, Combine Seasonings: Next, preheat the smoker to 225 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper. Rub generously on the entire turkey.
  3. Stuff: Fill the cavity of the turkey with the apple, onion, lemon and rosemary.
  4. Smoke: Next, place the turkey in the smoker and smoke for 30 minutes per pound. Put the meat thermometer into the thigh without touching the bone, or an about an inch into the thickest part of the breast. Smoke until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Rest: Once the turkey has reached the target internal temperature, remove from the smoker and let rest 10-15 minutes before carving.
Process shots of stuffing and seasoning turkey.

Smoked Turkey Tips and Tricks

Add these simple tips into your turkey-making process and you’ll have a masterpiece for the holidays! Honestly, smoked turkey is a game-changer. It’s one of the best ways to keep your turkey moist and full of flavor! Now you can have a turkey that looks like a showstopper and tastes like one, too!

  • Thaw in Time: Be sure to thaw your turkey before smoking so it cooks through completely! For a 12-15 pound turkey, I like to thaw 4 days in advance.
  • Don’t Skip the Brine: If you want the best turkey possible, don’t skip the brine! Brining your turkey helps to break down proteins. This makes your turkey more moist and tender! I like to add in herbs and citrus to help infuse flavor, too. You can find my recipe here! It does take 1-3 days to see best results, so keep this in mind so you’re not scrambling before Thanksgiving!
  • Keep Your Grill Closed: I know it’s tempting to open your grill to see how everything’s coming, but I recommend keeping it closed for as long as possible to maintain the right smoking temperature!
  • Check Internal Temperature: The last thing you want to do this Thanksgiving is make your guests sick. It’s super important to make sure the internal temperature of your smoked turkey has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Checking the internal temperature of the turkey.

Amazing Thanksgiving Sides

It will take 7-8 hours to smoke your turkey, so this gives you plenty of time to prepare the rest of Thanksgiving! What would Thanksgiving be without sides? Here are some of my absolute favorite recipes that will pair perfectly with your smoked turkey. I’m sure you’ll love them all!

Sliced turkey on a white plate with rosemary, lemon, and cranberry garnish.

Storing Leftover Smoked Turkey

I’m a fiend for Thanksgiving leftovers. Especially turkey! My favorite way to use it is in sandwiches. The smoky flavor of this particular turkey makes them so delicious!

  • In the Refrigerator: Remove any stuffing or fillings and wrap turkey in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • In the Freezer: You can store leftover smoked turkey in a freezer safe bag for up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before serving/reheating.
  • Reheating: I like to warm leftover turkey in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure internal temperatures reach 165 degrees before serving.
Closeup of a turkey slice being stuck with a fork.

Perfect Smoked Turkey

5 from 3 votes
Just in time for Thanksgiving, this perfect smoked turkey is juicy and tender with a subtle smoky flavor. A simple brine and fresh herbs make each bite burst with flavor!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 Turkey Brine Recipe optional
  • 12-15 pound whole turkey giblets and neck removed
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Apple quartered
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • Fresh Rosemary


  • Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. *see notes
  • Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees. In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Rub generously on the entire turkey.
  • Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the apple, onion, lemon, and rosemary.
  • Place the turkey in the smoker and smoke for 30 minutes per pound. Put the meat thermometer into the thigh without touching the bone, or about an inch into the thickest part of the breast. **see notes. Smoke until the temperature is 165 degrees.
  • Once the turkey has reached the temperature, remove it from the smoker and let rest 10-15 minutes before carving.


*Brining the turkey is optional, but we love the flavor of the turkey.
** I had a 16 pound turkey and it took about 7 ½ hours. I bumped the temperature up to 250 degrees the last hour so it would be done a little bit faster.


Serves: 8

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword smoked turkey
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. 5 stars
    I used the Brine recipe and this was the beat tasting turkey I ever had. The people who visited told me it was the best ever. It did cook quicker then the recipe stated. A 19 pound turkey was doen in 6 hours

  2. Thank you Alyssa, the turkey was amazing! It was so smoky and flavorful, for days after Thanksgiving too! Question: I have a pellet grill and used Traeger Turkey Pellets. What other flavor of pellets do you recommend if I cannot get my hands on more Turkey pellets?

  3. 5 stars
    This Smoked Turkey recipe was wonderful. It was my first time smoking a turkey so I was a little nervous, but it was probably the most moist and tender turkey that I’ve ever had. Seasoning was just right. Highly recommend!

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