8 Best Woods For Smoking Turkey


When it comes to smoking turkey, there are a lot of different ways that people like to do it. But one of the most important things that you need to think about is what kind of wood you’re going to use. There are a lot of different woods out there that can be used for smoking, but not all of them are created equal.

You need woods that will create the right flavor and aroma for your turkey, and you also need to make sure that they’re going to be safe to use. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best woods for smoking turkey.

Best Woods for Smoking Turkey

1. Cherry

Cherry wood is a great option for smoking turkey. It has a sweet, fruity flavor that pairs well with the rich taste of turkey. Just be sure not to use too much, as the sweetness can become overwhelming. You’ll also find that cherry wood produces a lot of smoke, so it’s important to make sure that your smoker is vented properly.

Cherry wood is also a good choice if you’re looking for something that’s going to create a beautiful pinkish hue in your smoked turkey.

2. Pecan

Pecan wood has a very distinct flavor that can enhance the taste of smoked turkey. The smoke from pecan wood is also very aromatic, making it a great choice if you want your turkey to have a great smell. Pecan wood is also very hardwood, so it will last longer in the smoker and produce a more consistent smoke flavor.

It is important to note that pecan wood can be quite strong, so you may want to use it in combination with other woods to balance out the flavor. If you use too much pecan wood, it can make your turkey taste bitter. So, if you’re using pecan wood for the first time, it’s best to start with a small piece and add more if needed.

Pecan wood is a great choice for smoking turkey because it imparts a unique flavor and produces a lot of aromatic smoke. Just be sure to use it in moderation so that your turkey doesn’t end up tasting bitter.

3. Hickory

Hickory is one of the most popular woods for smoking turkey. Hickory has a very strong and distinct flavor that imparts a delicious smoky taste to the meat. If you want your turkey to have a very pronounced smoky flavor, then hickory is the way to go.

However, because hickory is such a strong flavor, it can easily overpower the taste of the turkey. If you’re not careful, your turkey can end up tasting more like hickory than turkey.

When smoking turkey with hickory, it’s important to use a light hand. A little goes a long way with this wood, so start with just a few pieces and add more if needed. To create a more nuanced flavor, hickory can also be mixed with other woods, such as oak or pecan.

4. Maple

Maple is another great option for smoking turkey. Maple has a sweet, distinct flavor that can complement the taste of turkey. And like hickory, maple smoke also has a bit of a bitter edge to it. This bitter edge can help to balance out the sweetness of the maple flavor and give your turkey a more complex flavor profile.

If you’re looking for wood that will give your turkey a unique flavor, maple is a great option.

5. Oak

Oak is a classic smoking wood that has been used for centuries. Oak has a strong, distinct flavor that can stand up to the bold flavors of smoked meats. It imparts a deep, smoky flavor that is perfect for smoked turkey. If you want a classic smoked turkey, then oak is the way to go.

It’s also important to note that there are two different types of oak: red oak and white oak. Both types of oak will impart a smoky flavor, but white oak is a bit milder than red oak. If you’re looking for a more subtle smoky flavor, then white oak is the way to go.

When smoking with oak, it’s important to use small pieces of wood. Oak is a very dense wood, so it can quickly overwhelm the flavor of your turkey if you use too much. Start with small pieces and add more as needed to get the desired flavor.

6. Alder Wood

Alder has been in use as a smoking wood for a long time, especially by the native tribes of the Pacific Northwest. It imparts a light and sweet flavor that is perfect for poultry and fish. If you want to give your turkey a smoky flavor without overwhelming it, alder is a good choice.

This wood is also relatively easy to find, as it is often used in construction and for making furniture. You can usually find it at your local hardware store.

7. Apple Wood

Applewood is another popular choice for smoking turkey. It imparts a fruity and slightly sweet flavor that many people enjoy. It can also give your meat a pinkish hue, which can be visually appealing. It is a good idea to pair applewood with a more robust wood like hickory or mesquite.

This applewood is from the Cedar family. It is one of the softer woods with a lower density, making it great for smoking fish and poultry. Applewood burns hot and fast, so it’s good to use in combination with other woods.

8. Mesquite Wood

Mesquite is a very popular smoking wood that has been used for centuries in turkey smoking. It imparts a strong, hearty flavor that many people enjoy. Mesquite is a hardwood, so it burns slowly and evenly, making it ideal for smoking turkey.

One thing to keep in mind with mesquite is that it can be a bit too strong for some people. If you find that the flavor of mesquite is too strong for your liking, you can mix it with other woods like hickory or oak to mellow out the flavor.

How to Use the Smoking Woods?

When smoking turkey, you will want to use about 1-2 handfuls of wood chips. If you are using a smoker box, fill it up with wood chips and then place it in your smoker. If you are using a foil packet, place the wood chips in the packet and then poke holes in the top of the packet so that the smoke can escape.

When you are ready to start smoking, light your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then place your turkey in the smoker. Smoke the turkey for 3-5 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. This will give the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the meat, making for a juicier and more flavorful turkey.

Best Tips to Keep in Mind When Smoking Turkey with Woods

  • Spatchcock Your Turkey

You need to spatchcock your turkey for the best results. This means removing the backbone so that the turkey lays flat. This allows for more even cooking and also helps the turkey to absorb more smoke flavor.

  • Use a Combination of Woods

If you find that one type of wood is too strong for your liking, you can always mix it with a different kind of wood. This will help to mellow out the flavor and give you the perfect taste.

  • Digital Thermometer

Make sure to use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey. This is the only way to ensure that your turkey is cooked all the way through.

  • Drip Pan

Place a drip pan underneath your turkey to catch any drippings. This will help to prevent your smoker from getting too dirty and will also help to keep the smoke flavor strong.

  • Skip The Stuffing

Stuffing can absorb smoke flavor, so it is best to avoid it when smoking turkey. If you want to stuff it, cook it separately and then add it to the turkey just before serving.

  • Keep The Smoker Closed

It is important to keep the smoker closed as much as possible. Every time you open it, you are letting out smoke and heat, which can impact the cooking time and flavor of your turkey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Wood Should You Not Smoke Meat With?

Some woods are not suitable for smoking meat because they can impart an unpleasant flavor to the meat. These include cedar, pine, fir, redwood, and eucalyptus. They make great kindling for a fire but are not good for smoking meat.

What Is the Best Wood for Smoking Turkey?

The best wood for smoking turkey is hickory. Hickory imparts a sweet and smoky flavor, making it ideal for smoking turkey. Other good options include pecan and oak. This is because these woods also produce a flavor that is both sweet and smoky.

Do You Smoke a Turkey Breast Side Up or Down?

It is generally recommended to smoke a turkey breast side up. This allows the juices from the turkey to self-baste the breast, keeping it moist and flavorful. You need to use a pan that is large enough to catch the juices, however.

How Often Do You Have to Add Wood to Smoker?

How often you need to add wood to your smoker will depend on the type of smoker you are using, as well as the wood you are using. If you are using a charcoal smoker, you will need to add wood every 30-60 minutes. If you are using an electric smoker, you will only need to add wood every couple of hours.

Should Wood Chips Be Soaked Before Smoking?

Soaking your wood chips before smoking is not necessary, but it can help to produce more smoke. If you soak your wood chips, be sure to drain them before adding them to the smoker.

What Is the Best Temperature to Smoke Turkey?

The ideal temperature for smoking turkey is between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey to ensure it is cooked through.

Can You Mix Hickory and Cherry Wood?

Yes, you can mix hickory and cherry wood when smoking meat. This will create a flavor that is both smoky and sweet. Other good options for mixing include pecan and oak.

What Is the Best Way to Smoke a Turkey?

The best way to smoke a turkey is by using a smoker. This will allow you to control the temperature and the amount of smoke produced. You can also use a charcoal grill or an oven, but smoking a turkey in a smoker is the best way to ensure it is flavorful and moist.

Is Apple Wood Good for Smoking Turkey?

Applewood is a good option for smoking turkey because it imparts a sweet flavor to the meat. Other good options include cherry and pecan. Applewood is great because it also produces a lot of smoke, which is ideal for smoking turkey.

What Is the Best Wood to Smoke A Turkey Breast?

The best wood to smoke a turkey breast is hickory. Hickory produces a smoky and sweet flavor, making it ideal for smoking turkey. Other good options include pecan and oak.

Can You Smoke a Turkey with Pecan Wood?

Yes, you can smoke a turkey with pecan wood. Pecan wood imparts a sweet and smoky flavor, making it ideal for smoking turkey. Other good options include hickory and oak.

Can You Smoke a Turkey with Cherry Wood?

Yes, you can smoke a turkey with cherry wood. Cherry wood imparts a sweet and smoky flavor, making it ideal for smoking turkey. Other good options include hickory and pecan.

How Do Your Peak the Right Wood for Your Smoking?

When looking for the right wood for your smoking, it is important to consider the flavor you want to impart to the meat. If you want a sweeter flavor, then fruitwoods are a good option. If you want a smokier flavor, then hardwoods are a better choice.

Once you have decided on the flavor you want, then you can select a wood that will impart that flavor.


Smoking can be very fascinating when you know how to do it. And, like with anything else related to cooking or grilling, there’s an art to smoking meat. The type of wood you use for smoking is just as important as the meat itself. The wood adds the flavor, and you want to make sure that the flavor is complementary to the taste of the meat.

So, the above wood mentioned woods for smoking turkey are the best that will impart a bold, rich flavor to your bird. Choose any one of the above woods, and you’re sure to have a delicious, smoky turkey.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.