Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill


What is the most troubling thing about thanksgiving? Yes, it is to roast that giant bird perfectly. Especially if you are not a seasoned chef, then surprising your friends with your thanksgiving dinners is the most cumbersome thing.

But thanks to the pellet grills, which makes cooking turkey a breeze. You will cut the guesswork out of cooking and get right into that perfect deep cooked turkey. Even though you still need to clear up your mind on how to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill? For that, look at this guide of ours.

What do you need for smoking turkey?


    • Meat probe
    • Bucket (for brining)
    • Pellet grill and wood pellets
    • Meat injections
    • Drip pan
    • Bringing bag

Ingredients (For Brine)

    • Fresh or Frozen Turkey (12-14 pounds)
    • 1 cup Brown Sugar
    • 1 cup Kosher Salt
    • One and Half Cup Apple Cider or Apple Juice
    • Herbs (Thyme, rosemary, bay leaves)
    • Peeled and Smashed of Whole Head Garlic
    • Sliced piece of Orange and Lemon
    • 1 Tablespoon Peppercorn
    • 1 Teaspoon Cloves

Ingredients (For Seasoning)

    • 8 ounces Melted Butter
    • 8 ounces Maple Syrup
    • 2-3 Tablespoon Rub or Seasoning of your choice

4 Steps to cook a turkey on a pellet grill:

For better understanding, I will divide the whole smoking turkey method into 4 steps:

  • Step 1 (Thawing and Removing Giblets)

It is better if you get the turkey fresh, but if you have frosted one, it will work too. Before brining, make sure that the turkey is fully defrosted. Leave the turkey in the refrigerator for two days to thoroughly defrost. Once you are sure that the turkey is completely thawed, then remove giblets if it has any.

  • Step 2 (Brining)

For brining, you can go for both dry brine and wet brine.

  • In dry brine, you should sprinkle salt, brown sugar, and herbs over the skin and under the meat.
  • You should boil 4 cups of water for wet brine and put all the brining ingredients into that boiling water. Once cooked, then wait for the brine to become at room temperature or even below room temperature.

Add this mixture into the 3 liters of water. Now add the brine and turkey in the brining bag and store turkey in the fridge for 12 hours to one day. It will take out that tender and juicy flavor down the bone. The reason for the tenderness is that salt will take out the moisture and dissolve the ingredient, which will seep back to the turkey in the long run. So you will get the perfect and delicious bird.

  • Step 3 (Injecting Seasoning)

It’s time to wash off the brine and pat dry the turkey with some paper towels. Melt down the butter and add an equal part of maple syrup and 2-3 tablespoon of rub into it. After mixing, inject this mixture thoroughly into the bird. Make sure you inject it in each and every part and especially to the fatty chest part of the turkey. In the end, pour the rub or seasoning onto the bird and cover it nicely.

  • Step 4 (Smoking)

As the bird is all set to smoking, you must light it up to smoke your turkey on a traeger grill. Preheat the grill for 15 mins at 350F. Now place the turkey on the grates with chest side up and put the drip tray underneath the bird. The drip pan will collect all the drippings for the gravy. Insert the meat probe into the chest of the turkey.

When the bird’s internal temperature reaches 150F, open the lid and baste some leftover maple butter mixture and close the top again.

Now when the internal temperature of the bird reaches 165F, open the lid and remove the turkey. Now let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

How to smoke a turkey on a pellet grill without brine?

As brining, make the turkey more tender and juicy, but if you want to cut the chase of brining, you can go for no brine Traeger turkey. But for the no-brine option, you will need an infusion roaster. For that, you need to get a tray that will hold the infusion roaster and liquid (water or apple juice).

Pour the apple juice up to the first hole and insert the turkey onto the infusion roaster. Now pour or inject the seasoning on the turkey and place it in the grill. For more information, you can visit this video.

How long does it take to smoke a turkey in a pellet grill?

Now the most crucial thing for smoking turkey is the pellet grill’s cooking time for turkey. But it’s not the clock that acknowledges perfect turkey cooking. It’s the temperature and size of a turkey. You can consider half-hour for each pound of turkey.

For example, for a 15 pounder, you will be smoking for seven and half hours on a 225 F.

For smoking a turkey breast on a pellet grill, you will need almost 2 to 3 hours still, depending on the meat’s size. If you want to do it faster, you can increase the temperature to 250 F and consider 25 minutes per pound. But the more slowly it cooks, the tenderer and juicy it will become. So don’t haste to ruin the fun.

Related: 8 Steps to Smoke on a Gas Grill

Tips for Smoking Turkey

To give your turkey a more seasoned touch, below are some tips:

  • Spatchcock the turkey, as it will expose more of the turkey to brown and roast
  • It would be best if you used the meat probes to take better care of the turkey.
  • Go for the fresh turkey if available,
  • As I said earlier, you should get a drip pan. Not only will it save you from the mess and get a perfect gravy for you.
  • Don’t stuff the turkey as it will resist the heat from properly cooking.
  • Even if the meat looks pink after cooking; as long as your meat probe reaches 165 degrees, you are good to go.
  • Don’t haste and open the lid now and then. Let the smoke properly penetrates; otherwise, you will slow the cooking process.

So follow these tips and have perfect turkey right out of the smoker.

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