Cold Smoking a Turkey: A Detailed Guide

This guide will explore the process of cold smoking a turkey, including the equipment needed, the steps involved, and tips for achieving the perfect results

What is Cold Smoking?

Cold smoking is a method of smoking food at low temperatures (typically below 90°F) for an extended period This process imparts a smoky flavor to the food without cooking it Cold smoking is often used for meats like turkey, salmon, and cheese.

Equipment Needed for Cold Smoking a Turkey:

  • Smoker: You can use a dedicated cold smoker or convert a traditional smoker for cold smoking.
  • Smoke Generator: This device produces the smoke used for smoking the turkey.
  • Wood Chips: Choose hardwoods like oak, hickory, or apple for their smoky flavor.
  • Thermometer: A digital thermometer is essential for monitoring the temperature inside the smoker.
  • Turkey: Choose a fresh or thawed turkey, preferably with the skin on.
  • Brine (optional): Brining the turkey helps keep it moist and flavorful during the smoking process.

Steps for Cold Smoking a Turkey:

  1. Prepare the Turkey: If using a brine, submerge the turkey in the brine for 12-24 hours, then rinse and pat dry.
  2. Set Up the Smoker: Fill the smoke generator with wood chips and light it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the turkey on the smoker rack, ensuring it is not directly over the heat source.
  3. Start Smoking: Close the smoker lid and maintain the temperature between 70-90°F. The smoking time will vary depending on the size of the turkey, but expect it to take several hours, up to 24 hours for a large turkey.
  4. Monitor the Temperature: Regularly check the temperature inside the smoker and adjust the airflow or heat source as needed to maintain the desired temperature range.
  5. Remove from Smoker: Once the turkey has reached the desired internal temperature (typically 145°F), remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving and serving.

Tips for Cold Smoking a Turkey:

  • Use a good quality smoke generator: This will ensure consistent smoke production and flavor.
  • Experiment with different wood chips: Different woods will impart different flavors to the turkey.
  • Keep the smoker temperature low: High temperatures will cook the turkey instead of smoking it.
  • Monitor the temperature closely: Fluctuations in temperature can affect the quality of the smoked turkey.
  • Let the turkey rest: This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful turkey.

Additional Notes:

  • Cold smoking is a relatively slow process, so plan accordingly.
  • Cold-smoked turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for longer storage.
  • Cold-smoked turkey can be enjoyed on its own, sliced and served on sandwiches, or used in various recipes.

Cold smoking a turkey is a rewarding culinary experience that allows you to create a unique and flavorful dish. By following the steps outlined in this guide and using the right equipment, you can successfully cold smoke a turkey at home and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.


  • Q: What is the best type of smoker for cold smoking a turkey?
  • A: A dedicated cold smoker is ideal, but you can also convert a traditional smoker for cold smoking.
  • Q: What type of wood chips should I use?
  • A: Hardwoods like oak, hickory, or apple are good choices for their smoky flavor.
  • Q: How long does it take to cold smoke a turkey?
  • A: The smoking time will vary depending on the size of the turkey, but expect it to take several hours, up to 24 hours for a large turkey.
  • Q: What is the ideal temperature for cold smoking a turkey?
  • A: The ideal temperature range for cold smoking a turkey is between 70-90°F.
  • Q: How long does cold-smoked turkey last?
  • A: Cold-smoked turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for longer storage.

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Cold Smoking a Turkey: A Delicious and Unique Cooking Method

Regarding the preparation of a turkey, there are several techniques to take into account. Although grilling and roasting are common methods, cold smoking provides a distinctive and tasty way to prepare this traditional dish. By exposing the turkey to smoke at a low temperature, cold smoking gives it a rich, smoky flavor without cooking it all the way through. It’s definitely worth considering cold smoking a turkey if you’re looking to try something new and delicious.

A few essential equipment and ingredients are needed to cold smoke a turkey. To get started, you’ll need:

  • A whole turkey
  • A cold smoker or a smoking chamber
  • Wood chips or pellets for smoking
  • Seasonings and spices of your choice
  • Patience and time

Make sure your turkey is clean and well thawed before you start. When making any dish involving poultry, food safety must always come first.

The Cold Smoking Process

It’s time to start the cold smoking process now that you have all the required supplies. Follow these steps to achieve a delicious cold smoked turkey:

  • To begin preparing the turkey, season it with your preferred blend of spices. This is an excellent opportunity to get creative with flavors. Make sure all of the seasonings are applied to the inside and outside of the turkey.
  • Set Up the Smoker: If you’re using a special cold smoker, assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re using a smoking chamber, make sure the temperature stays below 100°F (37°C) to facilitate cold smoking.
  • Add the Wood Chips: Put your preferred wood chips or pellets in the smoker’s wood chip tray. Hickory, apple, and cherry wood are popular choices that give the turkey a distinct flavor.
  • Layout the Turkey: Gently lay out the seasoned turkey in the smoker, making sure that there is enough room for the smoke to fill the bird.
  • Keep an eye on things and wait: Cold smoking is a gradual process that takes time. To maintain a constant smoking environment, let the turkey smoke for a few hours while checking the temperature and the wood chips from time to time.
  • Finish and Savor: Take the turkey out of the smoker after it has absorbed enough smoke. The turkey needs to be finished cooking in an oven or grill until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). At this point, it won’t be fully cooked.

Although it takes careful planning and execution, cold smoking a turkey can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few additional tips to ensure success:

  • To improve the flavor and juiciness of the turkey, brine it before smoking.
  • When smoking the turkey, think about using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • Try a variety of wood chip types to find new ways to combine flavors.
  • Before carving, let the turkey rest so that the flavors can fully meld.

A great way to give this popular holiday meal a rich, smoky flavor that will wow your guests is to cold smoke your turkey. You can make your turkey even more delicious by following the above instructions and adding your own unique creative touches. So for your next culinary venture, why not try cold smoking?

With the correct equipment, ingredients, and a little perseverance, you should have no trouble creating a delicious cold smoked turkey that will leave guests begging for more. Tell us about your methods and advice for smoking a turkey outside in the

How to cold-smoke two Thanksgiving 2021 turkeys

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