Welcome to Best Woods To Smoke Turkey 101! From oak to hickory, and from maple to pecan, we’re sharing all the details you’ll need when choosing the best woods for smoking turkey.
When it comes to choosing what type of wood to smoke your meat, especially poultry, it is truly a personal preference.
Why is this process so subjective? Well, it is because everyone has different taste buds – I can certainly share the flavors that you will get from different type of woods.
When smoking poultry, especially turkey, there are several woods that can do the job well.
Poultry, in this case turkey, adheres very well to any type of wood. If you are smoking a turkey, you are sure to do well with most especially oak, hickory, apple, cherry, and many more.
Oak is a type of hardwood that burns slowly and produces a whole lot of heat. It is especially good when slow cooking for hours and cooking large amounts of meats, such as a whole turkey.
Oak is an extremely popular choice not just simply due to its slow burning process, but also because it has a smoky flavor that is rich, but not overpowering.
The smoke from the wood itself is mild, it works well when smoking turkeys because it does not overpower the flavors of the turkey.
When purchasing oak for smoking meat, look for a dense wood that is hard with tight grains. Also make sure that it is free from defects.
Defected oak burns much quicker and does not give out that rich smooth smoky flavor.
Hickory, one of the most popular woods used for smoking, can be found in most grocery and hardware stores.
It has a Robust and smoky flavor that goes well with any type of meat. The smoke from hickory can be quite strong, perfect if you are looking for a bold smoke flavor.
What makes this type of wood good for smoking – it is because you do not need a lot of it to obtain that wonderful smoke flavor.
A very good candidate in terms of savings in comparison to other woods.
A perfect combination for smoking turkey or any poultry. When you smoke turkey with cherry wood, you will get a sweet, tart, and smoky flavor.
The fruity flavor of the wood pairs well with poultry specially to help balance out spiciness of rubs.
What also makes cherry such a great combination is the mahogany color it generates on the meat during the smoking process.
That beautiful color makes the meat even more savory.
Applewood is another sweet, but mild smoke flavor that is also perfect for smoking turkeys. Applewood will give your turkey a delicate flavor that you are sure to enjoy. You will not go wrong with this type of wood for smoking.
The only downfall to this type of wood is that in order to obtain a strong smoky flavor, you will need to use quite a bit of it.
The wood is not as strong as other types for smoking, hence the reason it is best for poultry. This sweet and mild smoke flavor will work well with our smoke turkey recipe.
Maple is another sweet and subtle flavored wood that is also perfect for poultry. It will add such a delicate flavor to your turkey that you are sure to enjoy in every bite.
Another savory aspect of smoking with maple wood, is that it will make your turkey moist, and it is certainly a perfect addition to smoke this already flavorful turkey breast.
Another great addition to the poultry smoking lineup is Pecan. This type of wood gives you a sweet nutty flavor, which is perfect for smoking turkeys.
Smoking your turkey with pecan gives your meat a delicate flavor without overpowering it.
Another great characteristic of Pecan is that it is a hardwood. Due to its high heat intensity, it is perfect for smoking meat, especially a large amount.
Can any wood smoke a turkey?
The straight up answer is, NO.
As we have mentioned previously, picking the best type of wood is truly what you believe will work well with your flavors.
Different types of wood burns differently and extrapolate different smells and flavors.
Our personal opinion is not to rely on pitmasters to determine what is the best type of wood for you to smoke your turkeys.
It is truly subjective and you too will have an opinion as to what you believe is right for you.
On the other hand, we would not recommend using pine to smoke your turkey. Pine and cedar are normally used in ornamental smoking because they do not give out good flavors and smells.
Pine can also be irritable because it does give out a whole lot of smoke when burnt, hence the need to be in a well-ventilated area.
The only positive aspect of pine is that it is readily available in most stores and is more affordable than most other types. But it works well on camping trips as a bond fire.
Tips To Infuse Your Flavor during Smoking
If you are grilling or smoking Kabobs or even a whole turkey, use a wooden skewer. If you are able to make skewers out of the wood you are using for smoking, that flavor will also permeate the meat during the cooking process.
Inserting a wooden skewer inside the whole turkey will help infuse the flavors especially when smoking with mild flavored wood.
Also, wooden skewers are more impressionable in the smoker, plus they produce a lot less heat than metal, which is safer during handling.
Likewise, be sure to soak any wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes before usage. It will help the wood to last and prevent it from burning.
We enjoy smoking with oak, hickory, maple, and apple wood. But our preference for smoking a turkey is hickory, maple and apple wood.
Again, it is our choice because we like the flavors they infuse in our meats, and they work well with the spices that we use.
A turkey marinated with our Haitian seasoning, or our dry rub, is wonderfully delicious when smoked with maple and apple wood because of the sweetness they infuse.
Therefore, we believe our choice of wood for smoking a turkey is purely subjective based on our personal preference.
But we hope to share that wonderful experience with you to help you in your journey to find that flavorful balance.
Smoke Turkey Recipes & Other Smoked Dishes To Try
Now that you know best woods to smoke turkey, below are a few of our suggestions on smoked recipes to try.
It warms our hearts to see the recipes you make from this site, and we’d especially would love to know if you tried the recipes listed on this post.
Also, we would appreciate if could give it a star rating below!