Recipe courtesy of Melissa Gaman for Food Network Kitchen

Smoked Whole Turkey

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
To ensure the skin stays crisp when smoking a turkey, give it a light brush of oil, skip any basting that could introduce unwanted moisture and cook at a slightly higher temperature than you normally would for a fattier cut of meat, like brisket or pork shoulder. Giving the bottom of the turkey a few minutes over direct heat at the end makes sure those joints around the legs and bottom of the wings are fully cooked without drying out the breast meat.



  1. Pat the turkey dry. Put 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, the sugar, paprika, rosemary and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until combined. Carefully loosen the skin from the breast and legs with your fingers; rub the salt mixture under the skin, inside the cavity and all over the turkey. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the grill, 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Soak 2 to 3 cups apple, cherry and/or pecan wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes; drain. Heat a grill to 325˚ F to 350˚ F and prepare for indirect cooking: On a charcoal grill, bank the coals to the sides of the grill; on a gas grill, turn off half the burners. Place a large drip pan under the grates on the cooler side of the grill. 
  3. Gently drizzle and pat the vegetable oil all over the turkey. If using a charcoal grill, scatter about half of the wood chips over the coals; for a gas grill, fill a smoker box with the wood chips and use according to the manufacturer’s directions. When the wood chips start to smoke, place the turkey, breast-side up, over indirect heat so that the legs are closest to direct heat.
  4. Cover the grill and smoke the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165˚ F, 3 to 4 hours, adding the remaining wood chips to the grill about halfway through; add more charcoal or adjust the vents as needed to maintain the temperature.
  5. Carefully move the turkey to direct heat and grill, uncovered, until the bottom of the turkey crisps up a bit, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and let rest 30 to 45 minutes before carving.

Cook’s Note

You’ll need 2 to 3 cups apple, cherry and/or pecan wood chips. For a bolder smoked flavor, use hickory or mesquite wood chips. Avoid basting a smoked turkey — the skin could become tough and chewy. If any parts of the turkey (like the wings or legs) start getting too dark on the grill, cover them loosely with foil.