How to Cook Turkey & How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Turkey?

A turkey might be served to you in different ways, say, fried, smoked, grilled or roasted. But whatever the cooking process, it is always delicious to have turkey as a meal. In many parts of the world, it is also consumed as an alternative to the chicken.

Whether whole turkey or in many different cuts such as wings, breasts, legs and the like, it may be challenging and tricky to cook a turkey.

Well, you need not to worry! I am right here for you to help you out. I will be trying my best to simplify this article to make it as easy as understandable for you!

Where To Start, First? 

Perhaps, you are expert in or so used to with the conventional style of cooking a turkey- freezing a turkey, defrosting it before stuffing it, and finally roasting it.

And you thus feel bored when you came across with the same old method so in search of a new method of cooking a turkey. Or simply, you may be looking for a new style of cooking.

Whatever your purpose is, I am here to serve you. There are manifold ways of coking of turkey. Allow me to share you some mouthwatering cooking methods in this article. I can assure you that you would not regret after discovering those cooking styles.

How to Cook A Turkey?

As mentioned before, there are several methods of cooking a turkey. Here, I will try my best to document seven, the most common ways of cooking.

1. Brining

Brining is one of the most common ways of cooking methods. It has also proved to be a very protuberant cooking style to the turkey meat lovers.

This method starts from forcing liquids and seasonings into the turkey’s meat as an attempt to add some flavors and then tenderizing it.

The turkey meat requires cooling while brining, so you need to plan a long before if you aim to go with this method. A regular fridge would be the best companion to do such a job.

However, you can store turkey meat on ice if you aim to brining in within two hours.

2. Carving Roast Turkey

The cooking of carving roast turkey requires you to prepare bundles of dishes, which may be troublesome for you at times. This situation may go worse if are limited by time or space. So, what to do about it?

No worries, I have a solution for you. You can cook turkey’s meat in advance, say, one day before and then make ready gravy juices alongside making some gravy.

And then, slice the turkey up and store so with gravy in the fridge. Make sure that it is in a skillet covered. The next day would be the final preparation day, and you just need to cook the supporting dishes before heating the turkey in the gravy.

3. Roasting Turkey in the Oven

If you aim to cook a turkey following classic method, then you may opt for this style. The results are always incredible if you cook correctly.

However, you may have a roasted turkey, which is dry and lacks in flavor if the cooking process go otherwise.

4. Cooking Turkey in the Crockpot

If you want a really mouthwatering dish, you may consider cooking the bird meat with a crockpot. Try to add some stuffing and vegetables on a slow cooker you have to make the groundwork easier and in having a better yield.

Albeit more and more people prefer this method when they are about to cook boneless and skinless turkey breasts, it is perfectly fine to cook any parts following this way as long as you do not throw the full turkey in there.

5. Deep Frying

Do you aim to have a properly cooked turkey, which has a moist flesh, super soft skin, very appetizing taste, and an excellent flavor? Then you may go after this method called deep frying to cook the bird.

In an extreme case, you may find some fire revolving around your cooking machine while deep frying. So, better not to take the chance and remember to remove all the flammable materials far away from your cooker while following this method.

Also, you need to make sure that you get a fire extinguisher on your kitchen. It is always better to be careful in advance and have all the necessary equipment on hand.

6. Grilling 

The grilling method is also available for you to save your space greatly while allowing you to have turkey meat with a great flavor. You need to make sure that the grill, your equipment gets the constant temperature throughout the whole cooking process.

You can leave this responsibility to a grill thermometer and make you tension free and relaxed.

5. Smoking 

If you have plenty of time in hand and want to go for one of the sluggish methods, you can go for the smoking method. However, I can assure you that the yield would be very appetizing.

If you know already how to go through this method, then you should not worry at all. Let’s assume that you never smoked any meat before and you would love to try this; you may follow the guidelines mentioned below for a great result.  

Best Smoked Turkey Recipe

The Ingredients:

  • 1
    15-pound fresh turkey (or thawed turkey if frozen) with all innards taken out – 1 piece
  • 2
    Sugar- 1 cup
  • 3
    Traeger BBQ rub- 1 cup
  • 4
    Water- 3 gallons
  • 5
    Minced garlic- 1 tablespoon
  • 6
    Canola oil- 2 tablespoons
  • 7
    Worcestershire sauce- 1/2 cup

Method of Turkey Proceeding

You need to plan well before since this method requires overnight bringing.

You need to ensure that the turkey meat is well-unfreeze and that all the giblets, say, kidney, heart, liver, etc.) have been separated.

  • 1
    Take a non-metallic bucket, which can store 5 gallons of water and pour 3 gallons of water into it.
  • 2
    Add sufficient amount of BBQ rub and then blend it in until it gets totally dissolved. After that, add some sugar, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • 3
    Take a bucket, put the turkey along with its breast (the side needs to be facing down) in it with the salt water. You need to ensure that the turkey is entirely submerged. Afterward, cover the bucket well and store it in your fridge and leave it there for the whole night.
  • 4
    Take out the turkey from your fridge and make it light dry with a clean and fresh cloth piece.
  • 5
    The next step is to rub the oil over the turkey before placing it in a roasting pan while the breast side is facing up.
  • 6
    Now, it’s time to power on the grill on the smoke and take away the lid until the fire reaches to its full-fledged position.
  • 7
    Keep the turkey on the grill with the smoky condition for around two and a half hours.
  • 8
    When internal temperatures are about 170 °F, you may consider that your bird is well-cooked and ready make your tummy happy.
  • 9
    Take out the properly cooked turkey from your grill. Let it rest for around 20 minutes before making it ready for the final slicing.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Turkey?       

A smoked turkey is always a delicious alternative to the chicken no matter what the season is. However, you might be thinking which cut to choose!

Well, you may go with any cut. Seriously! There should not have any issue with the type of cuts. This is because, once the internal temperature of turkey or the pieces is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you can make sure that your turkey is cooked well to make your tummy happy!

To be sure that your turkey has got the right temperature, you can always use the built-in digital probe of your device or a digital meat thermometer.

It is recommended that you take out the turkey from the grill of the smoker when the internal temperature of your turkey is about 160 °F.

This is because the turkey will continue to cook when it rests. Once the internal temperature is reached to its safe limit, meaning that 165 degrees Farehnheit, it is the time to make yourself ready to dig in your cooked turkey.

The Cooking Time

The cooking time may vary based on what you are cooking and what type of cooking instrument you are using. Let me give you some educative calculations regarding cooking time on the basis of different cuts and cooker.

In the Smoker

Using a cooking instrument is quite straightforward. You just need to know the cooking recipe, cooking method and the given time for each cooking method.

If you are using a smoker to cook your turkey, then the calculations below are for you.

  • 1
    Whole Turkey: Set the temperature of your smoker to 240 °F. You need to cook 30-40 minutes each pound. Say, you have a smaller or 8 pounds’ turkey, it will take about 4 hours to cook it properly. To make this calculation clear, a larger (12 pounds) turkey will take about 6 hours to cook.
  • 2
    Turkey Breast: Same as before, set the temperature of your smoker to 240 °F. You need to cook 30-40 minutes each pound. On an average, the breast of a turkey is about 6 pounds, and so, you need to cook it for 4 hours.
  • 3
    Turkey Leg: For this case, set your smoker to 225 °F. You need to cook the legs of turkey for about 4 hours.
  • 4
    Turkey Wings: For turkey wings, same as before, set your smoker to 225 °F and then cook so for around 1.5 to 2 hours.

On the Grill

Turkey On the Grill

On the other side, the temperature settings and the cooking procedure are a bit different. If you aim to use a grill to cook your turkey, then it is worth to read the write-ups mentioned below.

  • 1
    Whole Turkey: Make sure that you preheat the grill to about 325 °F, which is known as a medium-high heat. Be mindful that you need to set up your grill so that you can cook with indirect heat. And then cook the whole turkey for about 3 hours. Here, the calculation for cooking time is 15 minutes per pound.
  • 2
    Turkey Breast: You need to preheat your grill to the high heat and set up so for indirect cooking. And then cook your turkey breast for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • 3
    Turkey Legs: Make sure that you preheat the grill to medium-high heat, which is about 325 °F and set up so for indirect grilling. Let the turkey legs to scorch over direct heat for around 3-4 minutes/ per side. Finally, invest about 45-60 minutes to make the legs roast over indirect heat.
  • 4
    Turkey Wings: In making smoked turkey wings, preheat your grill to about 325 °F (medium-high heat) and then cook them for around 30-40 minutes.


Although you will find a bunch of methods when it comes to cooking a turkey, I believe that you will get the best and mouthwatering results with the smoking method.

With an offset smoker and smoked turkey recipe highlighted above, you can assure that the yield would be exceptional and delicious.

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