Looking for the right wood to use when smoking your turkey?
You’re in the right place!
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Different types of woods to use for turkey?
- Best wood for smoking turkeys?
- And much more!
Check out this video for a quick primer then read on for more details!
Below is a quick list of all our top recommendations. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose the best wood for smoking your next smoked turkey!
Turkey is not only meant to be eaten with stuffing. A smoked turkey makes a delicious dinner any time of the year.
Before you grab your turkey out, make sure you have the best wood for smoking turkey as too much smoke will leave your poultry tasting bitter!
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Our Top 5 Woods for Smoking Turkey
What Are the Different Types of Woods for Smoking Turkey?
Just like smoking other foods, there are several types of wood available for smoking turkey.
Pellets are small pieces of wood that are ideal for smaller grills and smokers that would not have room for chips or chunks.
The next size up is wood chips. They are bigger and offer a longer burning time than pellets while still being small enough to fit in smaller grills and smokers.
Wood chunks are typically fist size chunks of wood, perfect for meats that need a bit more time in the smoker.
Wood logs can be used for both the smoke flavor and the heat source in larger smokers and offer a long burn time.
When it comes to flavors, if you can find it in wood chip form, it is available for smoking turkey.
However, poultry soaks up color and flavor when smoked and stronger woods will overpower the delicate taste of the bird, leaving it bitter.
Read More >> How Long Does Turkey Last in the Fridge?
Flavor Profiles of Different Types of Wood
|Adds a light cherry flavor to your turkey, more delicate than other smoke flavors.
|A medium flavor wood that will be more powerful than fruit woods, but not as strong as other woods that might overpower your turkey.
|Maple is mild and slightly sweet, but not as sweet as peach wood. Lighter than pecan, it’s a good alternative for those who don’t want to add fruit flavor to their bird.
|Another delicate flavor that won’t overpower your turkey. Will add notes of apple to your bird.
|Peach wood adds a sweet and smoky flavor to your turkey.
What Do You Look for in the Best Wood for Smoking Turkey?
When it comes to the best wood for smoking turkey, you want something mild in flavor. Anything too strong (like mesquite or hickory) will take over the flavor of the bird.
Poultry pairs nice with sweet woods, so find a fruit wood or another sweet wood that fits your taste profile.
If you have a smaller smoker or grill set up, you will want to look for chips or pellets in whatever kind of wood you’ve decided on.
Otherwise, grab some chunks or logs and get ready to smoke a turkey!
Read More >> How to Smoke Turkey (The Easy Way)
Best Woods for Smoking Turkey Reviewed
Traeger Cherry All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
Traeger wood pellets are sourced and made in the US. Made from all-natural hardwood, you get all of the wood you need without fillers and binding agents.
These pellets burn slowly so your turkey can absorb all of the delicious flavors they offer.
Traeger cherry pellets are slightly more expensive than similar pellets, so if you have a smaller budget, you will want to check out some others on this list.
- Made in the US
- Made from all-natural wood
- No fillers
- No binding agents
- Slow burn
- Expensive compared to similar cherry pellets
Weber Pecan Wood Chunks
A cheaper alternative to cherry, Weber’s pecan wood chunks will give your turkey that slightly sweet taste you are looking for.
They are sourced in the US and are not treated with any oils, so you get all-natural wood.
However, you may get a noticeable amount of chips in the bag and the chunks can vary greatly in size.
- Natural hardwood
- Sourced in the US
- Not treated with oils
- More chips in the bag than chunks
- Chunks vary greatly in size
Western Premium BBQ Products- Maple
These are real maple chunks, perfect for that slight sweet touch on your poultry.
Western heat-treats their wood so it is free of rot and prevents pests.
These chunks are typically fist-sized but can vary in the packaging from chunks to chips. Larger chunks will need set aside to cut down (or saved for similar-sized chunks).
- Heated to treat rot and pests
- Real maple chunks
- Fist-sized chunks
- Wood size varies greatly between chunks
Oklahoma Joe’s Wood Chunks-Apple
Oklahoma Joe’s wood chunks are made from real applewood with no filler wood for the ultimate apple smoke.
The chunks are good sized and ignite quickly so your turkey will be smoking sooner.
While the chunks are a good size, you can expect some smaller chunks in the bag and some chips as well.
- Made from real applewood
- No filler wood
- Good sized chunks
- Ignites quickly
- Smaller chunks mixed in with large
- More chips than desirable
Western Premium BBQ Products-Peach Chips
Just like their maple chunks, Western Premium’s peach chips are heat-treated to prevent rot and pests.
They are real peach chunks, with no filler woods so you can expect all-natural peach wood chips.
The chips ignite quickly since they are already kiln-dried and have a good smoke time.
Chip size can vary per package, but you will not find dust or pellets in the mix!
- Heated to prevent rot and pests
- Real wood chunks
- No fillers
- Ignites quickly
- Chip size varies widely
Are Wood Chips or Wood Pellets Better for Smoking Turkey?
If you have a pellet smoker, then wood pellets are your only option when it comes to smoking a turkey.
But if you have an electric smoker, or other smoker that doesn’t require pellets, you may be wondering if wood chips or pellets are better for smoking turkey.
It honestly comes down to your personal preference. While pellets will produce more smoke more quickly, you can’t soak them to customize the flavor of your wood. Additionally, it may be harder to place them in your smoker than wood chips or logs.
How to Make a Wood Blend for Smoking Turkey
Can’t choose a single wood for smoking your turkey? You don’t have to! You can just as easily create your own wood blend for smoking turkey.
While we recommend sticking to the woods on this list, there is no reason you can’t smoke your turkey over a cherry apple wood combo, or peach and maple combo!
All you have to do is mix two types of woods in your smoker before starting it up and you are ready to smoke!
Top Tips for Smoking Turkey
Smoking your first turkey is quite the feat! Below we have some tips to help you smoke your first turkey.
- Spatchcock your turkey so it cooks more evenly.
- Use a leave-in thermometer to monitor the progress of your turkey if your grill is equipped with one.
- Cook your turkey in a drip pan.
- Don’t stuff your turkey, instead, cook it in the oven in a pan.
- Keep your smoker door closed as much as possible.
Turkey Smoking Wood FAQs
Is Mesquite Bad for Smoking Turkey?
Mesquite is a strong- wood, and it is not recommended for turkey as it will overpower the natural flavors of the bird. If you can, choose a fruit wood flavor instead.
Which Woods Should You Avoid for Smoking Turkey?
Avoid strong-flavored woods like mesquite, oak, and hickory when smoking your turkey as these woods will overpower the natural flavors of the bird.
How Often Should You Add Wood When Smoking a Turkey?
How often you need to add wood will depend on how fast your smoker burns wood. You will want to keep a constant flame going, so ensure you add wood before the fire dies out. If you don’t know how quickly your smoker burns wood, we recommend checking every hour and adding wood chips or pellets as needed.
Should I Soak My Wood Chips Before Smoking Turkey?
While you certainly don’t need to soak your wood chips before smoking a turkey, you can if you want to add a specific flavor to your wood chips. For example, if you want to add an apple flavor to your maple wood chips, you can soak them in apple juice before smoking. Soaking wood chips in water is not recommended.
Final Thoughts on Which Woods Are Best for Smoking Turkey
Skip the flavor-heavy woods when you are smoking poultry. Since turkey absorbs the flavor and color of the smoke it is in, strong-flavored woods such as hickory and mesquite can be overpowering.
Sweet woods pair nicely with turkey, so grab a box or bag of fruitwood (like apple or peach) and fire up the smoker.
Related >> Firewood Storage Ideas
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