7 Best Smoked Turkey Recipes [Barbecue Holiday Dinner Ideas]

By Ben Isham-Smith


Delicious barbecue smoked turkey ideas for your Thanksgiving or holiday dinner. Matched with mouthwatering dry rubs and wet brines, these slow-roasted turkey cuts will satisfy a crowd.

Best Smoked Turkey Recipes

Everyone’s familiar with traditional roast turkey, but what if we could pack in even more flavor? Smoking turkey low and slow will elevate its tenderness and juiciness while adding a beautiful layer of wood and smokey notes.

Here are the best recipes for getting the most out of your turkey using your smoker.

Whole Turkey

smoked whole turkey

Smoking a whole turkey is the best way to feed a crowd with a bird that fits tradition but with more flavor than your classic oven-roasted turkey. A smoked whole turkey is exactly what it sounds like, a whole bird. You prepare the bird by removing the neck and giblets, tying the legs together, and tucking the wingtips.

To maximize the flavor, brine the turkey (if it hasn’t been brined already) and season with fat and your favorite dry rub. Then, smoke directly on the grill, breast-side up, for about 30 minutes per pound. If you don’t have a smoker, you can smoke a turkey on your pellet grill as long as you use indirect heat.

Turkey Legs

glazed turkey legs on smoker cooking grates

Turkey drumsticks are a crowd favorite. They’re the perfect finger food because you can hold the bone with your hands, and the dark meat of the leg is one of the most flavorful parts of the bird.
Smoked turkey legs are even more flavorful than regular drumsticks. Start by brining the turkey legs or injecting each drumstick with marinade. Smoke the turkey legs over wood chips for up to four hours to get the perfect flavor and texture.

Turkey Breast

smoked turkey breast sliced on kitchen wood counter

Turkey breast can be hit or miss. Although this mild cut is a favorite, particularly of picky eaters, it is easy to overcook and dry out until it is flavorless. Luckily, smoking the turkey breast eliminates this problem and infuses this cut with flavor and moisture.

Most parts of the turkey are best when brined before smoking, and smoked turkey breast is no different. Brine overnight, pat dry, then smoke until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Once it rests, slice the turkey breast and serve. Breast meat is also excellent in leftover turkey recipes, such as sandwiches or quesadillas.

Turkey Ribs

close up of turkey ribs from kuck farms

Pork ribs and beef spare ribs get all the attention, but turkey ribs are a worthy substitute. Turkey ribs are not actually part of the rib cage but a cut of white meat from the shoulder bone. Turkey ribs have a similar taste and texture to pork ribs, particularly because they come with the bone in, but are far lower in fat.

To smoke turkey ribs, prepare the meat with a dry rub. Be sure not to add too much spice as milder white meat can get overwhelmed in a way that pork won’t. Then, put it in the smoker. Once the ribs are done, slather in your favorite barbecue sauce and start eating.

Spatchcock Turkey

smoked spatchcock turkey recipe

Spatchcocking barbecue poultry helps to smoke them faster while also working more flavor into the meat. This smoked spatchcock turkey is prepared with a beautiful paprika and brown sugar dry rub before smoking for twelve hours for a juicy cut of bird.

To spatchcock a turkey, first, remove the spine with shears. Once the backbone is gone, turn the bird on its back and press down hard on the breast, cracking the rib cage. This allows the bird to lie flat in a pan and cook more evenly.

Prepare the rest of the bird as you would a regular whole turkey. Add dry rub to impart more flavor, and then smoke it.

Turkey Roulade

Turkey roulade is rolled turkey breast stuffed with a delicious, saucy filling. While most recipes call for baking a roulade in the oven, you can make this in your smoker as well.

To make a turkey roulade, butterfly the breasts and season them with salt. Then, fill the breasts with your choice of filling. You can use tomatoes, spinach, cheese, or anything else that you want. Finally, roll the breast into a spiral and tie it with butcher’s twine. Smoking the roulades makes them nice and juicy.

Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Bites

What’s the best way to add more flavor to turkey breast? Wrap it in bacon, of course! These bites make the perfect appetizer for your next barbecue.

To make smoked bacon-wrapped turkey bites, cut turkey breast into small cubes and season with dry rub. Then, wrap each piece with bacon and hold it in place with a toothpick. Smoke the bites and then cover them in your favorite barbecue sauce.

These recipes cover some of the best ways to prepare turkey for your smoker.

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About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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