Best Woods For Smoking Turkey

Best Woods for Smoking Turkey That You’ll Definitely Love

Trying to find a suitable wood to smoke your turkey? You’re at the desired place! I’ll provide you with comprehensive information on the best wood for smoking turkey, and also tell you which wood you should not use.

Undoubtedly, smoking a turkey can be a tricky task. It requires a lot of preparation and patience. However, it’s easy if you have the right tools and especially wood. There are different types of wood, each with its own flavour that you can use to smoke a turkey.

Why Wood Matters?

As previously mentioned, each wood comes with its own flavour. When wood is burned, it releases compounds that add a smoky flavour to the meat. The type of wood you use will affect the flavour. So read this guide carefully before choosing the wood because no one wants the bad taste of smoked turkey.

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

Here are the top woods to use for smoking turkey:


Cherry wood is a popular and classic choice for smoking turkey and other meats because it provides a mild, sweet flavour that doesn’t overpower the natural taste. You can easily find it in your local barbecue stores near you. Cherry wood is a perfect choice for rubs and marinades, but it also works well when used in combination with other types of wood.

After the smoking process, it adds a deep and rich colour to the turkey meat. For strong flavour, many experienced BBQ joints recommend using cherry wood in combination with other woods like hickory.


Applewood is another type of sweet and fruity wood, with a mellow flavour when compared to cherry. It’s a great smoking option for beginners who want a mild-smoke flavour. You can reduce the risk of overcooking if you keep your turkey at a safe temperature and make sure that the middle comes up to the temperature.

It can take 3 to 4 hours to smoke, which is much longer than other types of wood. Apple wood works well with all kinds of woods when you want to achieve a deep and layered flavour.


Maple wood is one of the more complex woods on our list. It is usually used for smoking pork but it works well with turkey meat too. Its earthy and spicy flavour adds a nice twist to your dish. The flavour can be slightly different depending on the type of maple wood that you’re going to use.

Maple has a sweet, smoky taste that’s stronger than apple wood. After completing the process, it gives a beautiful golden colour to your turkey. It’s nice to use a herb rub with smoke made from maple wood because it enhances the flavour. The combination with other woods can overpower the taste.


Pecan wood is another popular choice for smoking turkey because of its slightly sweet, smoky flavour and sharpness. It’s similar to cherry wood, but it has a more delicious flavour that adds a nutty taste to the turkey. Its milder nature makes it an excellent choice for those who prefer a less intense smoky taste than other woods like hickory or mesquite.

Pecan wood burns slowly, which makes it ideal for long smoking sessions. You can also use a combination of other woods like apple or cherry to add a unique and complex flavour.

The flavour of this wood is more strong than the others on our list. I recommend testing a small piece before doing the entire turkey.


Alder wood is a great alternative to traditional smoking woods for turkey that produces delicious results. It is commonly used for smoking fish, especially salmon, but it also complements poultry very well.

It has a light, earthy flavour and isn’t overpowering. It burns slowly and provides a nice slow-smoke flavour that’s perfect for beginners. This can make it easier to control the amount of smoke in your smoker.


The mild flavour of peach wood won’t overpower the chicken’s taste. It produces the smoky fruity flavour that goes well with every type of meat. Its taste is slightly similar to apple wood, however special in its own way.

If you want to try a new flavour, you can also use peach wood with other woods.

Woods to Avoid


Hickory is a fantastic wood for smoking turkeys, giving them a natural smoky flavour. Hickory wood is too strong to use for smoking, but it is great to use in combination with other woods. You can find it at most BBQ stores. It gives the meat a brownish colour after smoking which makes it look awful.

If you are a beginner then it can be a little tricky to get the balance right and avoid overwhelming the turkey. The best way to avoid overpowering the turkey is to use a combination of different types of wood such as apple or cherry wood.


Oak is another strong smoking wood that adds deep flavour and reddish colour to your turkey, although it is a bit lighter than mesquite and hickory. But, if you want a smoky earthiest flavour then hickory is the best choice.

People avoid using this wood alone because no one wants the meat to be overpowering. If you want to smoke turkey with Oakwood, it is better to use it with another wood such as cherry.


Mesquite is another strong smoky wood that produces a deep and nasty taste to your turkey. It is often used in Southwestern state barbecues. If you don’t do it carefully, it can overwhelm the meat.

Many experts don’t use it either, but you can use it with the combination of another wood such as Alderwood.

What’s the Best Style of Wood for Smoking Turkey?

The style of wood you use to smoke turkey depends on the type of smoker you have, as well as your personal preferences.

Chips: Chips are small pieces of wood that you’ll find in electric and gas smokers. They provide a quick burst of smoke, and they ignite quickly.

Logs: Logs are a good choice for traditional smokers. They take longer to ignite, but they burn steadily and consistently provide a smoke flavour for several hours.

Pellets: Wood pellets are small cylindrical pieces of compressed sawdust and wood flavourings. They’re designed to be used in pellet grills, and they provide a consistent smoke flavour without requiring constant attention.

Sawdust: Sawdust can be used by a variety of smokers, but it burns quickly and produces a lot of ash. It’s best used in small amounts to add a boost of smoke flavour to a dish.

Chunks: Chunks are larger pieces of wood, typically 2-3 inches in size. They are good for use in a water smoker or a charcoal grill, as they will last for several hours and provide a consistent smoke flavour.

When choosing a wood to use for your next barbeque, it’s always a good idea to experiment with different styles.

Also Read: Best Lighter Fluid Substitutes

How to Smoke Turkey

Here are some tips and tricks to help you smoke the perfect turkey:

Brine the turkey:

Brining the turkey before smoking helps to keep it moist and flavorful. Simply mix together a solution of water, salt, sugar, and any additional seasonings you like, and soak the turkey in it for several hours or overnight.

Season the turkey:

Season the turkey both inside and out with a dry rub or marinade. This will help to add flavour to the meat and keep it moist while smoking.

Use indirect heat:

When smoking a turkey, it’s important to use indirect heat. This means placing the turkey on a rack or in a roasting pan away from the fire or heat source so that it cooks slowly and constantly.

Control the temperature:

Maintaining a consistent temperature is key to smoking a turkey. Aim for a temperature between 225-250°F, and use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F.

Baste the turkey:

Basting the turkey with a mixture of melted butter and any additional seasonings you like, will help to keep it moist and add flavour.

Rest the turkey:

After smoking the turkey, let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make the meat more tender and juicy.

Congratulations, your meal is ready to eat!

Some FAQs

Can You Mix Woods When Smoking Turkey?

Yes, you can mix different types of wood when smoking turkey. In fact, many pitmasters create unique flavours by mixing different woods. Some popular combinations include apple and hickory, oak and pecan, mesquite and alder or cherry and maple.

Should I Soak My Wood Chips Before Smoking Turkey?

Soaking wood chips before using them in a smoker can help to produce more smoke and prevent the chips from burning too quickly. This can result in a more consistent smoke flavour and can also help to regulate the temperature of the smoker.

What Wood Is Best For Smoking Turkey Legs & Breast?

The best woods for smoking turkey’s legs and breast are cherry, maple, apple and hickory. These woods add a mild to medium flavour to the meat, without overpowering it. They also create a sweet and savoury smoke that enhances the taste of the turkey.

Final Words

You’ve got the smoker. You bought the meat. You’re freakin’ out because you are about to cook your bird for the first time, but you do not know what wood to use for smoking. Here is fully guided information that will help you make a better choice on which wood to use.

If you are still unsure about what wood is perfect then the best advice would be to keep it simple and use a fruitwood like apple, cherry or peach.

With that knowledge, you are ready to make the perfect smoked turkey. It’s just up to you now, follow the rules and enjoy success!

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