Would you like to impress your dinner guests with the best-tasting turkey they've ever had? Then follow this easy recipe for how to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill. This is hands down the easiest turkey recipe you will ever make. Smoked turkey is incredibly juicy, tender, and infused with a unique smoky flavor. The bird is seasoned with a dry spice rub that adds fantastic flavor and leaves a crispy exterior on the turkey. So, if you want to smoke a turkey, you have to try this delicious smoked turkey recipe; you will be so glad you did!
We love turkey around here. I like to buy it when it goes on sale, that way I can stock up for one entire year. They keep so well in the freezer!
I also love how quick and easy this turkey is to cook up on a pellet grill. You mix the rub, put it on the turkey, and place it on the grill. Set the temperature, set the timer, and that's it! Super easy!
Cooking a turkey is a tradition for many families on Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, I also like to cook a turkey at least once a month. I love having leftovers to make soup or turkey shepherd's pie or freeze a turkey breast for a quick supper on busy evenings.
My other popular smoker recipes inspired this easy smoked turkey recipe. Have you tried my popular Smoked Salmon on Pellet Grill, Chili Lime Chicken, Smoked Chuck Roast, Double Smoked Ham, or my awesome Smoked Burgers?
- Why a pellet grill?
- Do you have to brine turkey before smoking?
- What are the best wood pellets to smoke turkey?
- What is the best size turkey for smoking?
- How long to cook a turkey on a pellet grill?
- How much turkey do I need per person?
- Will I be able to get gravy from a smoked turkey?
- Why you will love pellet smoked turkey
- Ingredients for pellet grill turkey
- How to prepare the turkey
- Smoking whole turkey on Pit Boss pellet grill
- Make the smoked turkey gravy
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Top tips for smoking a turkey on a pellet grill
- What is a good side dish to serve with turkey?
- Related recipes
- 📋 Recipe
- Food safety
- More recipes
- 💬 Comments
Why a pellet grill?
Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have heard fantastic reviews about wood pellet grills. Our friends all told us how much they loved them, but we didn't think it was worth the added expense. We already had a natural gas BBQ; why buy something else that would do the same thing?
Well, we were so wrong. When our gas grill quit working, we decided to buy a pellet grill. We looked at Traeger grills and Pit Boss grills. The Pit Boss smoker happened to be on sale, so that's what we decided to buy.
We purchased a Pit Boss smoker 8-1 grill that uses 100% wood pellets as fuel instead of gas and propane. From the first time we used it, we loved it! It adds so much flavor and is so easy to use! The best part is it is electric, you just set your temperature dial, and that's where the temperature stays. It's so cool! (BTW, this is not a sponsored post; we love it that much). 🙂
You can make a smoked turkey on any grill you have, a pellet grill, gas grill, or charcoal grill. This smoker recipe for how to cook a turkey on a pellet grill is my favorite recipe that always turns out 100% of the time 🙂
Do you have to brine turkey before smoking?
No, you don't have to do a turkey brine before smoking, not for this recipe anyway. That's just an extra step that you don't have to do. This is just a simple step-by-step recipe on how to smoke a whole turkey. We are not going to do anything too complicated this time. It turns out fantastic without brining it…trust me. If you buy a pre-brined turkey that is fine too, we are just not going to add this step for this simple recipe.
What are the best wood pellets to smoke turkey?
Hardwood pellets are the best for turkey. We use the Competition Blend, which is a mixture of maple, hickory, and cherry woods. Other good choices would be hickory and applewood.
What is the best size turkey for smoking?
I do not suggest smoking a turkey larger than 15-pounds for food safety reasons because it will take too long to cook. The turkey will be sitting in the unsafe zone for too long, and you would risk bacteria growing. However, check out this spatchcock turkey on pellet grill recipe if you want to smoke a larger turkey. It is a flattened turkey that is cooked at a higher heat so it is safe to eat.
How long to cook a turkey on a pellet grill?
This recipe takes 4.5 to 5 hours at 225 degrees F for an 8.5 pound turkey, or until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature. A 15-pound turkey will take about 7.5 hours.
To figure out the exact time for the exact weight of your bird, cook turkey for 30 minutes per pound, at 225 degrees F. If you are cooking it at 250 degrees, it will be 25 minutes per pound.
If you need to cook more than a 15-pound turkey, cook more than one turkey. For example, if you need 25 pounds of turkey to feed everyone, cook a 12-pound turkey and a 13-pound turkey. Super easy, right?
How much turkey do I need per person?
To allow for ample leftovers, figure 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. This amount will ensure everyone will have enough to eat, and you will also have some prized leftovers. Turkey soup anyone?
Will I be able to get gravy from a smoked turkey?
Yes! In my opinion, the best gravy for turkey comes from a smoked turkey. The drip pan that you place underneath the turkey will catch any drippings, and you can use those drippings at the end of the cooking time to make the best turkey gravy ever.
Why you will love pellet smoked turkey
- Smoking turkey gives it fantastic flavor
- Juicy and tender meat
- Easy to make
- Doesn't heat up the house
- Leaves your oven free to cook other dishes
- Hands-off cooking, it's a set it and forget it recipe. No turning or flipping required
- The delicate smoke flavor is infused in each tender bite of turkey
- The turkey is never charred or dried out in spots like it sometimes is when you cook it on the grill
- Did I say fantastic flavor?
Ingredients for pellet grill turkey
You can prepare this delicious, juicy, flavorful smoked turkey recipe with just a handful of ingredients.
- Turkey. I used a frozen turkey that I defrosted, and it was not brined.
- Butter or olive oil.
- Spice rub. Use your favorite spice rub, or use my homemade Dry Rub. It contains brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, roasted garlic and peppers, chili powder, seasoning salt, and black pepper.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to prepare the turkey
First of all, remove your defrosted turkey from the package. Next, remove the neck and giblets that are inside the cavity.
Rinse the turkey inside and outside with cold water and dry the turkey with a paper towel.
Next, place the whole turkey on a large platter or roasting pan.
If using homemade dry spice rub, mix the ingredients together with a spoon.
Next, add butter or olive oil underneath the skin on the turkey breast. Rub the butter all over both breasts with your fingers. This helps to keep the breast moist and it doesn't get dried out.
Next, coat the outside of the turkey with olive oil or butter and season on all sides with a spice rub. Sprinkle the spice rub mixture over the entire turkey. If you have a brined turkey, it will have enough seasoning and you will not need anything else.
Preheat your smoker. Set the temperature to 225 degrees. Make sure you top up the pellet grill with wood pellets of your choice. We like the Competition blend or hickory wood pellets.
Note: For food safety reasons, it is not safe to place stuffing inside of the turkey. Cook stuffing on the stove or in the oven separately.
Smoking whole turkey on Pit Boss pellet grill
If you want to make gravy, place an aluminum pan or baking sheet on the grill rack and a wire cooling rack inside the pan. This will catch all of the drippings. Next, place the turkey on the wire rack. Then, add a few cups of water to the pan at the beginning of cooking to ensure the drippings do not evaporate before the turkey is fully cooked. The water may evaporate during cooking, so refill the pan as needed to keep a few cups of water in there at all times. The cook time will be a little longer with the pan underneath the turkey, but it is worth it.
If you are not making gravy, place turkey directly on the rack of the grill.
Place a temperature probe into the thickest part of the breast meat and the thigh. When the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, the turkey will be cooked. Start checking the turkey about one hour before you think it should be done.
All turkeys cook differently, and all pellet grills cook differently. If the turkey is done earlier, just shut the grill off and cover the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. I would then place it in the oven on the keep warm setting.
Allow the turkey to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Hint: Use a ShopVac to vacuum up the ashes before you preheat the grill. That way you can be sure that the firepot will not get clogged up during the cooking time.
Make the smoked turkey gravy
It only takes about 5 minutes to make tasty smoked turkey gravy. Using a turkey baster or a soup ladle, remove the liquid from the bottom of the pan. Place the liquid into a medium saucepan.
Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. In a small cup or jar, mix 2 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoon of cold water. Whisk mixture into the gravy in the saucepan. Whisk well until the gravy starts to boil. The gravy will thicken once it boils.
If you want a thicker gravy, add more cornstarch, a teaspoon at a time (mixed with an equal amount of cold water), until you reach the desired consistency. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
Change the flavor of the turkey by changing the spice rub ingredients. So go ahead, have some fun with it!
- Spicy - add cayenne pepper or chili pepper flakes
- Sweet - Add extra brown sugar to the spice rub.
Note: Sugar will turn a dark color on the turkey as it cooks. If you don't want a lot of dark colors, leave the sugar out.
Smoker: Our smoker is an electric Pit Boss smoker 8-1 grill that uses 100% wood pellets as fuel instead of gas or propane.
Wood pellets: We like the Competition Blend and Hickory Blend and also Applewood Blend.
High-quality temperature probe: This is a must-have item if you own a smoker. We invested in a digital meat thermometer as soon as we bought the smoker; it's an absolute necessity!
Fridge: Leftover smoked turkey can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Leftover smoked turkey can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. We love using a Foodsaver to freeze our food, it keeps so much longer!
If you have lots of leftovers, slice up the turkey and place it in a Ziploc bag and pop it in the freezer for meal prep for school or work lunches.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Food cooked on a pellet grill has a unique flavor that comes through in everything that is smoked. Food is cooked at a lower temperature so it does not dry out. As a result, food is always juicy, moist, and flavorful. We love the pellet grill so much, that we actually probably will never use a barbecue again.
The cooking temperature for smoking a turkey on a pellet grill is 225 degrees F at 30 minutes per pound or 250 degrees F at 25 minutes per pound.
Top tips for smoking a turkey on a pellet grill
- Invest in a high-quality temperature probe for your meat. We use the ThermPro-Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer. You just set the probes in the meat, set what kind of meat it's for, and it lets you know when it reaches that temperature. It is not advisable to open the lid during the cooking process, so you don't need to until the meat is cooked if you use a temperature probe.
- Cook with the thermometer, not the clock. All grills cook differently, and there are so many variables that play a part in the cooking time, such as weather, different types of grills, etc.
- Make sure you add your wood pellets before you start the grill. Check during the cooking time to make sure you don't run out.
What is a good side dish to serve with turkey?
Some of our favorite side dishes to eat with smoked turkey are Extra Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Carrot Salad, Coleslaw, Baked Beans, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, Mustard Beans, and of course a fresh green salad with homemade dinner buns. Don't forget dessert! Try The Easiest Crustless Pumpkin Pie Recipe (Gluten-Free)
If you’ve tried this Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill or any other recipe, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you!
How To Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- ThermPro Wireless Remote Digital Thermometer
- Electric Pellet Grill
- Wood pellets, either Competition Blend or Hickory Blend, or your favorite
- 8.5 pound turkey remove the neck and giblets
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 2 tablespoon dry spice rub link for homemade is in the notes.
- Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Make sure it is topped up with wood pellets.
- Rinse the turkey inside and outside with cold water and dry the turkey with a paper towel. Place the turkey on a large platter or roasting pan. If using homemade dry spice rub, mix the ingredients together with a spoon.
- Next, add butter or olive oil underneath the skin on the turkey breast. Rub the butter all over both breasts with your fingers. This helps to keep the breast moist, and it doesn't get dried out. Next, rub oil over the entire turkey. Sprinkle spice rub over the whole turkey. Don't forget underneath!
- If you want to make gravy, place an aluminum pan or baking sheet on the grill rack and a wire cooling rack inside the pan. This will catch all of the drippings. Next, place the turkey on the wire rack. Then, add a few cups of water to the pan at the beginning of cooking to ensure the drippings do not evaporate before the turkey is fully cooked. The water may evaporate during cooking, so refill the pan as needed to keep a few cups of water in there at all times.
- If you are not going to make gravy, place turkey directly on the rack of the grill.
- Place a temperature probe into the thickest part of the breast meat and the thigh. When the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, the turkey will be cooked. The cook time for the turkey is 30 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F, or 25 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F. Start checking the turkey about one hour before you think it should be done. If the turkey is done earlier, just shut the grill off and cover the turkey with aluminum foil. I would then place it in the oven on the keep warm setting.
- Allow the turkey to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended