Best Wood for Smoking Turkey 

Choosing correct wood flavor for smoking turkey.

You can’t go wrong with smoking a whole turkey! Moreover, although most people associate smoked turkey with holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, the reality is that a tastefully smoked bird such turkey may be enjoyed and served any time of the year. Finding the suitable sort of wood chips to go with that huge piece of turkey is essential to making it look just perfect! When it comes to pairing your prized smoked turkey with the right taste, there are so many options to choose from that it’s hard to know where to begin.

However, since your particular preferences will determine the kind of wood you pick, we will provide you with a variety of alternatives rather than focusing on a single best option. If you want to know more, you are in the right place! Continue reading this article!

What Are the Various Types of Woods Perfect for Smoking Turkey?

Smoking turkey may be accomplished using a variety of woods, just as it can be done with other sorts of meats. The term “pellets” refers to little bits of wood that are perfect for use in smaller grills, as well as smokers that do not have enough space for chips or lumps of wood. Chips made out of woods are the next tier up in terms of quality and price. However, they are huge enough to accommodate smaller grilling and smoking setups because they have a longer burn duration than pellets.

Smaller pieces of wood, such as wood chunks, are ideal for smoking meats that require a little longer time in the smokers than larger pieces of wood. Whereas wood logs may be used in bigger smokers to provide both taste and heat, and they have a longer burn life.

It’s possible to smoke turkey using a variety of flavors that are accessible as wood chips. While turkey absorbs texture and flavor when smoking, heavier woods will overshadow the flavor profile of the turkey, resulting in a bitter, strong aftertaste.

The Most Beneficial and Useful Wood for Smoking Turkey

It is preferable to use mild-flavored woods for smoking turkey since it imparts the best taste. Mesquite or hickory will overwhelm the taste of the turkey if it is too intense. Finding fruit woods or other sweet woods that suits your palate is a good place to start if you’re a fan of turkey. If you’re using a smaller smoker or grill, you’ll would like to check for pellets or chips in the kind of woods you’ve personally selected. Alternatively, gather some chunks or wood logs and prepare to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving!

1) Cherry

When used in combination with your turkey, cherry wood adds a pleasantly sweet aftertaste without overwhelming the bird. It will be easy to tell your turkey apart from the others after it has been roasted over cherries for many hours. In order to enhance the taste of your smoke, you might like to introduce a little piece of hickory as well. It will assist in providing it with a little more smokiness, which goes well with the cherry flavor.

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2) Pecan

Pecan is sweet-tasting woods, similar to cherry, in its taste. In contrast to cherries, pecans are significantly more flavorful and offer a nutty taste to your turkey. Since it is stronger than cherry, I recommend trying it if you’re not a fan of cherry’s sweetness or spiciness. Be aware that you may notice that pecan is a touch too sweet for your preferences, so it’s better to try it out first and see what the turkey flesh responds to the pecan wood before proceeding. I will not recommend combining pecan alongside oaks or hickory to get a more varied taste profile. Adding more ‘earthy’ woods to the mix, such as hickory or oak, risks overwhelming the already-rich pecan flavor.

3) Apple

Apple is a Thanksgiving staple because it is sweet and delicious, but they are also milder than cherries or pecans. If you wish to use apple smoke, you need to allow plenty of time to penetrate your turkey since it is relatively light. The best way to prevent your bird from drying out is to keep a careful check on it.

It’s the perfect complement to the mellow yet luscious flavor of turkey. Also, consider the side dishes you’ll be trying to serve with your turkey, like cranberry sauce, maybe marshmallows, sweet potatoes, grilled apples, etc. Don’t ever lose sight of the overall image of the whole dish, and aim for a balanced combination of tastes.

4) Alder

When it comes to taste, this kind of wood is noted for having an exceptionally delicate flavor that is even milder than apple. Even though alder is commonly utilized to smoke seafood plates, please don’t bother! The turkey will also benefit from it. Take a breather from the sugar high with an alder smoke inhalation. You can’t go wrong with this mellow and earthy blend, and it’s difficult to go wrong with it. It’s another fantastic option if you’re trying to satisfy a large group of people.

Aside from that, alder burns slowly, making it an excellent choice for novices since there are no risks of making a rash decision and accidentally burning the whole meat by heating it for an excessive amount of time when first getting started. Since it is gentle, it is also popular with those just starting out smoking.

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5) Maple

There are many kinds of wood that are sweeter than this one, but let’s take a closer look at this one, shall we? Contrary to popular belief, maple hardwood has a far more delicate flavor than its fellow sweet woods siblings. It enhances the taste of turkey by adding a subtle, gentle layer of taste. 

It enhances the taste of turkey by adding a subtle, gentle layer of taste. If you’re going to use maple wood for cooking ribs or any pork cuts, you should also use it for cooking fowl. When cherries or pecans seem too fatty or sugary, maple is a terrific option with a much more subtle flavor profile.

6) Hickory

When it comes to smoking, hickory is one of the most diverse woods available. It may be a terrific method to make your turkey appearance, aroma, and taste spectacular. Turkey may take benefits from the diverse array of subtle tastes and smells from smoking with hickory, seeing as it’s a lump of pretty plain meat. When smoked with hickory, a turkey’s deep, brownish complexion may also be an appealing characteristic.

When adding hickory smoke, it might be a bit more challenging to achieve the proper consistency and prevent overpowering the turkey. If you want a thoroughly blended deeper, rich taste that complements the turkey’s natural flavors, you’ll need to spend some time figuring out just how much woods to utilize and how long it takes to smoke your turkey.

Types of Wood to Avoid for Smoking Turkey

It’s especially true when it comes to turkey, which has a wide range of flavors that don’t all blend well together. In the same way that many white portions of meat are light, it is often overwhelmed by more strong woods. Following is a list of hardwoods that I would try to stay away from while smoking turkey.


Traditionally, mesquite has been used to smoke BBQ meats, and it is a wonderful woods. Mesquite wood has one of the most intense flavors of any kind of wood available on the market today. It has a strong taste, which you want when cooking with brisket or other fatty meats. However, it’s simply too much of taste when it comes to turkey and will overshadow the bird’s own flavors. It’s common for people to utilize a small amount of mesquite and pair it with other woods for balancing, but I recommend avoiding it entirely.


Oak is some other type of wood that is used for smoking. It has a strong flavor, but it’s a little milder when compared to hickory. You can understand why fowl isn’t often recognized in the culinary world. As a result, it could be used with cherry to make a more complex flavor.

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Ribs

Additional Recommendations

Don’t Overpower the Turkey Flavor 

If something’s good for the turkey, it may not be suitable for the turkey at all! When it comes to brisket, it doesn’t matter whether it has much smoke or not, and it is not the same with the turkey. The flavor of turkey is delectable. However, it is more mild than beef. It’s for this reason that the rich smoky flavor we want in beef brisket may overpower a turkey. Instead, choose something gentler in flavor. Your turkey will flavor superb courtesy of the fruit and nut woods, which will also enhance the meat’s natural flavor while allowing it to stand out.

You Can Create Custom Flavor Profiles by Blending Woods

If you want to experiment with different woods, you may do so by combining them. The far more typical method utilizes half a strong-flavored wood and half a fruitwood combination. It is possible to balance the flavors of several kinds of wood and avoid having one specific taste dominate your turkey by blending them. Explore different combinations of your preferred woods to see which suits your needs the best.

The Final Word: Choosing Your Own Flavor

Smoking turkey may be a challenging endeavor, and it may take some practice to get it correctly. There are several variables to consider when dealing with lean meats like turkey. Make sure that you pay attention to everything from how much wood you’re using to how long the smoke is lasting. You can cook a tasty turkey for your buddies and families with a bit of experience utilizing several of the woods listed above. Experimenting with various combinations of woods may help you create a distinct taste profile that is uniquely yours!

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