Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

Whether you are a seasoned barbecue pro or just getting started, every outdoor cooking enthusiast knows that one of the most important rules to follow is to buy the best wood they can afford. After all, smoking food is an expensive and time-consuming hobby that takes hours daily.

Smoking a turkey can be a delicious and festive tradition, but choosing the suitable wood for the job can also be challenging. Here are the eight best options to give you delicious results every time!

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

How to Choose the Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

When it comes to smoking a Thanksgiving turkey, the best wood is typically determined by what is available. However, a few factors to consider when selecting the perfect smoking wood for your bird.

First and foremost, the type of smoker you have will play a role in your decision-making process. Hardwoods such as hickory, oak, and mesquite will work if you are using an offset smoker or a combination smoker/grill. On the other hand, lighter woods such as apple, cherry, or Alder can be used if you have a pellet smoker or gas grill.

Second, consider the flavor you are looking for in your wood smoke. Hardwoods will deliver a more traditional smoked turkey flavor, while lighter woods produce a more delicate smoke. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which flavor profile you prefer.

Last but not least, make sure to buy enough wood for your turkey Smoking needs! A good rule of thumb is to buy an extra chunk of wood for every 4-6 pounds of bird you plan on smoking. This way, you can be sure to have enough smoke wood on hand should you need it.

Types of Wood

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

Smoking a turkey can be a lot of fun, but choosing the suitable wood for the job is important. Here are some of the most common types of wood used for smoking turkeys:

  • Cherry Wood
  • Pecan Wood
  • Maple Wood
  • Apple Wood
  • Alder Wood
  • Oak Wood
  • Hickory Wood
  • Mesquite Wood

Each has a unique flavor and characteristics that make them perfect for smoking a turkey. Choose the one that best suits your preferences!

Cherry Wood

If you’re looking for the best wood for smoking turkey, you’ll want to consider using cherry wood. This hardwood is perfect for smoking because it has a high smoking point and does not go wrong quickly. Plus, cherry wood is a natural source of antioxidants, which makes it a good choice if you’re looking to enhance the flavor of your turkey.

Pecan Wood

Pecan wood is a great option if you’re looking for wood that will give your turkey the perfect flavor and texture. Pecans are inexpensive and easy to find wood, making them an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. Additionally, pecan wood is very versatile – it works well in Smokey and sweet flavors, so you can be sure to get a unique taste with every turkey you cook.

Maple Wood

Maple is an excellent wood for smoking turkey. It has a sweet flavor that pairs well with the bird’s natural flavor. Plus, it doesn’t go rancid like other woods. You can keep a supply on hand for holiday dinners and other gatherings.

Apple Wood

The best wood for smoking a turkey is apple wood. Not only does apple wood have a great flavor, but it also has an extended smoking time, so your turkey will be cooked evenly. Additionally, apple wood is a sustainable wood, which is excellent news if you’re trying to live a green lifestyle.

Alder Wood

Alder wood is a great wood for smoking turkeys. It has a deep, smoky flavor that is perfect for creating an elaborate Thanksgiving feast. The wood is also relatively easy to work with, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

Oak Wood

Oak is an excellent wood for smoking turkeys because it has a robust and mild flavor that pairs well with Thanksgiving spices. The wood also has a nice weight, which gives the turkey a sense of stability and firmness while cooking.

Hickory Wood

Hickory is an excellent choice if you’re looking for the best wood for smoking a turkey. It’s a hardwood that’s been burning for centuries, so it has a lot of flavor and moisture content. Plus, it doesn’t produce any harmful fumes or compounds when smoked. Just make sure to soak your hickory in water for at least 24 hours before using it to prevent it from becoming too dry.

Mesquite Wood

Mesquite wood is famous for smoking turkey because it cooks quickly and evenly. The wood has a strong, smoky flavor that is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other autumnal feast. To smoke a turkey using mesquite wood:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
  2. Place the turkey breast-side down on the smoking rack and cover it with mesquite wood chips.
  3. Smoke the bird for 3 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

How to Smoke a Turkey Using Wood

Many different types of wood can be used to smoke a turkey. The most popular woods for smoking turkeys are apple, cherry, hickory, and mesquite. Remember a few things when choosing which wood to use for your smoker. 

  1. The first thing to consider is the smoker’s temperature range. Most smokers can accommodate wood from around 200 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. The second thing to consider is the flavor profile of the wood. Some woods are more suited for smoking than others, and you’ll want to choose one that compliments the flavors you’re hoping to achieve with your turkey-smoked dish. 
  3. Finally, ensure you have the correct tools for smoking with the wood you’ve chosen. Most smokers require a chimney starter, a firebox, and some rub or sauce.

Tips for Perfect Turkey Every Time

If you’re looking for the perfect way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, look no further than smoked turkey. Here are a few tips to help make your experience perfect every time.

First and foremost, make sure your turkey is seasoned correctly. Salt and pepper will do the trick, but a good rub can amp up the flavor. If you’re using a brine or curing solution, rinse your bird well before smoking it.

Next, choose a suitable wood. Hardwoods like oak or hickory are great options because they impart a nice flavor and a nice smoke texture. Avoid using lighter-colored woods like pine because they produce an overwhelmingly sweet flavor.

Finally, preheat your smoker to the appropriate temperature and get started smoking! Turkey is a juicy bird, so give it plenty of time to cook through without burning or drying out. Happy Thanksgiving!

What Do You Look for In the Best Wood for Smoking Turkey?

When it comes to smoking a turkey, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. The first is that the wood should be fresh and not dried out. After that, it’s important to decide what type of smoker you’re using, as this will affect what kind of wood is best for smoking a turkey. Here are four types of smokers and their corresponding wood: charcoal, gas, electric, and propane.

  • Gas smokers work best with milder woods like apple or cherry and produce a more nuanced flavor than charcoal smokers.
  • Electric smokers use batteries instead of fire, so they’re perfect for those who want to avoid embers and ash.
  • Propane smokers are the newest type of smoker on the market and work best with fruitwoods like cherry or peach. They produce a very light smoke flavor that’s perfect for those who want to avoid intense flavors.

Ultimately, the type of wood you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the type of turkey you’re smoking.

How Many Wood Chips Should I Use?

One of the most important factors in smoking a turkey is using the correct wood chip. There are a lot of different opinions on how many chips to use, but the consensus is that you should use somewhere around one-third to one-half of the entire bird. If your turkey weighs ten pounds, you should use around three to six chips. You can read more about how many chips to use in this article from The Kitchen.

Should I Soak My Wood Chips Before Smoking Turkey?

Water-soaked chips will produce a milder flavor and smoother smoke. They are soaking overnight is recommended.


There are variety of woods that can be used for smoking turkeys, but the best one to use will depend on your preferences and the type of smoker you have. If you are using a charcoal grill, hardwood is the ideal choice because it produces a consistent smoke that helps flavor and tenderizes the bird. However, pellet fuel is the way to go if you have an electric smoker because it gives off a much less intense heat. So whichever route you choose, test out different woods to find the perfect one for your smoker!

John Rinder
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