How to Smoke a Turkey in Your Oven: A Comprehensive Guide

This recipe for smoked turkey consists of coating an entire turkey with a homemade spice rub and slow-smoking it until it is perfectly juicy and tender. An incredibly simple and elegant main dish for the holidays that doesn’t require any oven space!

Looking for something a little different from your typical roasted turkey? This smoked turkey is a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving dish that looks stunning and is so easy to make even a non-cook can create a beautiful and delectable masterpiece. Present your turkey with a homemade cranberry sauce and observe the positive feedback that follows!

Although I enjoy cooking turkey for the holidays, I dislike how much oven space it takes up on the big day. Now that I’ve started smoking my turkey instead of roasting it, the outcome is simply amazing.

Smoking a turkey is a fantastic way to infuse it with rich, smoky flavor and achieve a tender, juicy texture. While a smoker is the traditional method, you can achieve similar results using your trusty oven. This guide will delve into the two methods for oven-smoking a turkey, providing step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to ensure a successful and delicious outcome.

The Foolproof Method: Smoking with a Baking Tray

This method is ideal for beginners and those who want a straightforward approach


  • 1 (12-pound) thawed whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 cup sugar-based curing mixture (such as Morton® Tender Quick®)
  • ¼ cup liquid smoke, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Wood chips of your choice (mesquite, hickory, maple, apple, pecan, or guava)


  1. Prepare the turkey: Combine the curing mixture and liquid smoke in a bowl to create a paste. Apply the paste evenly to the inside and outside of the turkey. Place the turkey in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Soak the wood chips: Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes, or ideally 2-3 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven: Set your oven to 250°F (120°C).
  4. Assemble the smoking setup: Line a baking tray with foil. Scatter the soaked wood chips on the foil in a single layer. Add approximately 1/4 cup of the soaking water to the wood chips. Place a wire rack over the wood chips. On top of the rack, place a disposable catering tray (narrower than the baking tray) with 10-12 holes poked in it using a knife.
  5. Smoke the turkey: Place the turkey on the hole-poked tray. Seal the entire baking tray with foil, ensuring a puffy but tightly sealed envelope. The foil should not cling to the turkey. Place the tray in the preheated oven and smoke for 30-40 minutes per pound of turkey, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F when measured with a digital meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

The Dry Wood Method: For Experienced Cooks

This method requires more attention and is suitable for those comfortable with higher heat and open flames.


  • 1 (12-pound) thawed whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 cup sugar-based curing mixture (such as Morton® Tender Quick®)
  • ¼ cup liquid smoke, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Wood chips of your choice (mesquite, hickory, maple, apple, pecan, or guava)
  • Cast iron skillet or baking sheet
  • Foil
  • Kitchen lighter


  1. Prepare the turkey: Follow steps 1 and 2 from the foolproof method.
  2. Preheat the oven: Set your oven to 250°F (120°C).
  3. Remove oven racks: Take out all the racks from your oven except for one, which you should position in the middle.
  4. Light the wood chips: Line the bottom of a cast iron skillet or baking sheet with foil. Add a single layer of dry wood chips and light them using a kitchen lighter. Ensure all the chips catch fire.
  5. Smoke the turkey: Once the flames subside, place the skillet/pan under the turkey on the middle rack. Close the oven door and smoke for 30-40 minutes per pound of turkey, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F when measured with a digital meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

Tips for Success:

  • Choose the right wood chips: The type of wood chips will significantly impact the flavor of your turkey. Mesquite and hickory provide a strong, smoky flavor, while maple, apple, and pecan offer a milder, sweeter taste.
  • Don’t over-smoke: Be mindful of the smoking time, as over-smoking can result in a bitter flavor.
  • Rest the turkey: After smoking, let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bird.
  • Baste the turkey: During the smoking process, you can baste the turkey with a mixture of butter, herbs, and spices to enhance the flavor and keep it moist.
  • Use a digital meat thermometer: This is the most accurate way to ensure the turkey is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F.

Smoking a turkey in your oven is a rewarding and delicious way to prepare this classic holiday dish. By following these methods and tips, you can achieve a perfectly smoked turkey that will impress your guests and become a cherished tradition.

How do you smoke a turkey?

If brining, immerse the turkey in the brine mixture two days prior to cooking. Preheat your smoker with the wood of your choice. Tuck the turkey’s wings under the bird and place it in a disposable aluminum pan. After adding the onion, lemon, and herbs to the turkey’s cavity, fasten the legs together with twine. Apply the barbecue sauce all over the turkey’s exterior. After moving the pan of turkey to the smoker, cook it, bashing it periodically, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the turkey rest, then carve it and serve.

how do you smoke a turkey in the oven

Tips for the best smoked turkey

  • I find that leaving the turkey in the disposable pan while it smokes makes cleanup much simpler than moving it straight onto the rack.
  • A probe thermometer is a must-have when making smoked turkey. Always go by the temperature rather than the cooking time because smokers can occasionally have inconsistent temperatures.
  • I usually use an electric smoker because I find they are easy to use, even for complete novices, and they regulate heat well.

how do you smoke a turkey in the oven

Starting early in the day will ensure that the turkey is finished by dinnertime because smoking a turkey can take a while. A medium-sized turkey requires at least five hours to smoke at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. To cook a turkey, allow it to cook for approximately 25-30 minutes per pound. Depending on the kind of smoker you’re using and how well it maintains a constant temperature, this timing may change. The best way to determine when the turkey is done is to use a thermometer, not a clock.

I enjoy smoking poultry with apple wood because it adds a subtle sweetness to the meat. Apple wood is readily available in most stores. Other great choices are cherry wood or hickory.

When a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the turkey is done. I use a digital thermometer that I leave in the turkey while it smokes so that I can use a temperature remote from inside the house to keep an eye on its progress.

Since nobody likes a dry turkey, I prefer to baste my smoked turkey, sometimes adding a little chicken broth while it cooks to keep the turkey moist. If your turkey has already been brined, you can omit the basting step.

Assuming one pound of turkey per person will help you determine the approximate size of turkey you will need. Aim for 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person if you want a lot of leftovers.

how do you smoke a turkey in the oven

This recipe tastes great just the way it is, but if you’d like, you can alter the flavors to suit your preferences.

  • Spice Rub: If you’re not in the mood for barbecue, this recipe also tastes great with blackened, Creole, or Cajun seasoning.
  • Brine: You can vary the taste of the brine by adding different fruits, like pears or apples, or utilizing different herbs and honey as a sweetener.
  • Stuffing: You can try other ingredients like apples, a halved head of garlic, carrots, orange slices, or leeks instead of stuffing the bird with onion and lemon.

The outcome is a flavorful, juicy, and tender turkey that is exquisitely browned. A smoked turkey is always a good choice, and I appreciate that it clears up some oven space so I can bake the sides and desserts for the big feast.

Smoked Turkey in the Oven


Can you bake and smoke a turkey?

My though for this year is to smoke the turkey for a few hours to get some of that great smoke flavor, and the finish it out roasting it in the oven for crisp up the skin and get some of that flavor as well.

How do you smoke a turkey and keep it moist?

Make sure you have a drip pan at the ready to catch the drippings as well as keep your smoker environment moist. I use an aluminum pan that I can position on the grill underneath my turkey. Fill the pan with several cups of water at the beginning of the smoke.

Can you smoke a turkey wrapped in foil?

SHOULD YOU WRAP TURKEY IN FOIL WHEN SMOKING? Unlike cooking a turkey in an oven, you won’t want to wrap your turkey in aluminum foil for smoked turkey. If your turkey’s wings are baking too quickly, you can cover them with foil, but otherwise, there’s no need.

How do you cook a fully cooked smoked turkey?

Herbs and spices (such as garlic powder, paprika, thyme, and rosemary) To prepare your fully cooked smoked turkey for cooking, follow these simple steps: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Remove the turkey from its packaging and place it on a cutting board. Brush the entire turkey with olive oil to help it brown and stay moist during cooking.

What temperature should a smoked turkey be cooked at?

Oven Bake At 325-350°F Once you’ve got your smoked turkey in the oven, it’s just a matter of monitoring its cooking. Just like in the smoker, you’ll want your turkey to reach the USDA recommended serving temperature of 165°F, in the deepest parts of the turkey.

Can you finish smoked turkey in the oven?

So, whether you’ve run out of fuel for the smoker, are running out of time, or for any other reasons, here’s exactly how you can finish smoked turkey in the oven: Preheat The Oven ASAP. This process can be replicated with a whole turkey, turkey legs or breasts, a smoked spatchcocked turkey, or even a precooked turkey! Let’s get into it. 1.

How do you smoke a turkey breast in a smoker?

Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the apple, onion, lemon, and rosemary. Place the turkey in the smoker and smoke for 30 minutes per pound. Put the meat thermometer into the thigh without touching the bone, or about an inch into the thickest part of the breast. **see notes.

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