How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill (6 Easy Steps)

You’ve decided to smoke the turkey this year. But can you do it on your pellet grill? We’ve got the answer and the best method for doing so! 

In this guide, you will discover:

  • How to smoke your turkey on a pellet grill
  • Tips for smoking your turkey on your pellet grill
  • And much more!

Smoking a Turkey on a Pellet Grill

Pellet grills are a great invention. As a mix between a grill and a smoker, they can typically do the job of both. Plus, you can use your pellet grill to make a delicious turkey for you and your family to enjoy this holiday season. 

Even if you are a beginner with a pellet grill, you’ll find that smoking a turkey isn’t too difficult at all. You just need a few simple supplies and some time. 

Ready to learn how to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill? Read on to learn the method, plus some great tips and tricks! 

Supplies Needed to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill

Obviously, you’re going to need all the items that make your pellet grill operational to smoke your turkey. This includes wood chips in a sufficient amount for at least a 5 or 6-hour cook time. 

Because turkey is poultry, you will want to pick a mild wood pellet. We recommend using maple, apple, pecan, or cherry wood pellets. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even try mixing two or three of these woods together in your hopper. 

You will also need the following items:

For this basic how-to, we don’t include instructions for seasoning your turkey. Know that you can, though, either with a seasoning mix or you can also stuff fruit and spices into the turkey cavity. 

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06/10/2024 10:03 pm GMT

How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill (6 Easy Steps)

Got everything you need? Then follow these simple steps for smoking your turkey on your pellet grill. 

Step 1: Brine Your Turkey

Remove the giblets and place your turkey in a brining bag. In a separate container, mix 1 cup of salt with 4 quarts of water. Pour this mixture over the turkey and seal the bag. 

Make sure to read the label of your turkey to see if it has been pre-brined already. For the most part, you should not brine a turkey that has been pre-brined because it will not give you any additional benefits. Brining a turkey that has been pre-brined will most likely not add any more beneficial flavor to the turkey, and, in most cases, will result in an extremely salty bird. Keep in mind that a turkey by itself is packed with flavor naturally and brining it too many times can take away from the natural flavors.

Step 2: Set Your Timer

Your turkey needs to brine for one hour for each pound it weighs. For best results, brine the turkey overnight at a minimum. 

Step 3: Pat the Turkey Down

Once the brining process is complete, remove your turkey from the brining bag and pat it with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. 

Step 4: Smoke the Turkey

Place your turkey on your pellet grill, which should be pre-heated to 180°F. Place the turkey directly on the grate and allow it to cook for 2 hours. 

Step 5: Raise the Temp

Turn the pellet grill up to 325°F. Leave the turkey at this temperature until the breasts reach the temperature of 165°F. 

Your turkey will take approximately 15 minutes for every pound of meat when smoked at 325°F. To avoid overcooking your turkey, however, start checking it at least one hour before it is done so you have a better idea of how much more time to allow. 

Step 6: Rest the Turkey

Once the turkey is cooked to 165°F, remove it from the pellet grill and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Then carve and serve. 

Related: How Long Should You Rest a Turkey Before Carving It?

a smoked turkey on a cutting board on a table with herb garnishes.

Should You Use a Roasting Pan When Smoking a Turkey?

There is much debate in the BBQ world about using a roasting pan when smoking a turkey. Generally, the answer as to whether you should or not depends on if you are basting your turkey.

Basting a turkey when smoking isn’t necessary, but some people like their turkey to have a more buttery or savory taste. When this is the case, they choose to baste it, and when they do, they must put it in a roasting pan. 

The only downside of basting your turkey while smoking it is that you won’t get a nice crispy skin underneath because the turkey will sit in its juices. But if you don’t mind forgoing the crispy skin, then go right ahead and baste it. 

The point is, you don’t have to use a roasting pan when smoking your turkey, though you can if you want. The choice is totally up to you. We recommend that if you aren’t basting your turkey, stick to the no-pan method to get a nice crispy skin on your bird. 

Tips for Smoking a Turkey on a Pellet Grill

Smoking a turkey, while it isn’t hard, isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. Below are some turkey smoking tips to help you learn the dos and don’ts of smoking a turkey. 

Don’t Spatchcock Your Turkey

Trussing your turkey is when you separate the breasts from your turkey and cook them flat on the grill. While some people swear by this, you should only do this when you are in a rush and need the turkey to cook faster. 

Spatchcocking can remove some of the juices from your turkey, and since this is an already dry meat, it’s better to keep all those juices in. 

Don’t Stuff Your Turkey

Unfortunately, you cannot stuff your turkey when you are smoking it. If you do so, you are running the risk of exposing your family to foodborne illness

This is because the inside cavity does not get as hot when you smoke a turkey, meaning that juices could drip down onto the stuffing, then not reach the 165°F needed to make it safe to eat. Don’t chance your family’s health and cook the stuffing in the oven in a pan. 

Use a Separate Meat Thermometer

Many pellet grills these days have a built-in meat thermometer. While this can be helpful for setting wifi alerts to let you know when the turkey is ready, we recommend always using a second, removable meat probe just to be sure. 

Because the temperature probe is sitting in your turkey while it cooks, it may not always read properly. While it will be close, it could be a few degrees off. This isn’t a huge deal but can make all the difference when it comes to killing bacteria in the meat. 

Allow Plenty of Cooking Time

Smoking a turkey takes time, and the last thing you want to do is to try and rush it. We recommend adding an extra hour to the cooking time when you calculate it. 

This not only gives you 15 minutes to rest the turkey, but you can also cook it a little longer if you need without feeling pressured to have the turkey on the table. And even if it is ready on time, there are a few ways to keep a turkey warm that you can use while you prepare all the sides! 

Final Thoughts on How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill

Overall, smoking a turkey on a pellet grill is easy, and you should not be intimidated to try it! Just be sure to always brine your turkey in advance and check the temperature with a meat probe, and you can’t go wrong. Who knows, you might just find smoked turkey from a pellet grill is the best you’ve tasted yet! 

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

2 thoughts on “How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill (6 Easy Steps)”

  1. HI:
    Unless you are buying a turkey from a farm or a fresh turkey, there is NO NEED TO BRINE YOUR BIRD as ALL turkeys sold commercially are PRE-BRINED!!!
    If you brine it again it will be WAAAAAAY too salty.


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