Applewood smoked turkey recipe [How To]

Turkey is mild meat compared to beef, so bold smokes might overwhelm its taste. It is best to use a light-tasting smoke with a mildly sweet flavor like apple wood. If you are thinking of having a cookout with your friends or family, try the applewood smoked turkey recipe we will teach you today!

Apple wood chips give the meat a slightly fruity and sweet flavor, making it great for smoking. Below are some essential details related to smoking a turkey with apple wood as well. Before we delve into more information and inquiries, let us show you how to make a smoked turkey with applewood right away:

How to make smoked turkey with apple wood

Total preparation time: Up to 5 hours

Yield: 12 servings, about 4 ounces each


  • Apple wood chips
  • Fresh or frozen whole turkey
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sage
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Water


  1. Soak the apple wood chips in water for at least an hour.
  2. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and throw out the liver. Make sure to thaw the turkey first if it is frozen.
  3. Dry the turkey by patting with tissue paper, then start trimming the excess fat. Start loosening the skin from the breast and drumsticks by inserting your fingers and gently pushing between the skin and meat.
  4. Add extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder to a small bowl. Chop sage, thyme, and oregano, then add them to the mixture as well.
  5. Rub the mixture over the breasts and drumsticks as well as under the loosened skin.
  6. Using a kitchen string, tie the turkey’s legs together.
  7. Place a cup of water at the bottom of a disposable foil roasting pan. On the pan, add onion, carrot, and celery.
  8. Arrange the turkey on the roasting rack, breast side up, then let it stand at room temperature for at least an hour.
  9. After an hour, remove the turkey from the grill rack and prepare it for grilling. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  10. Place at least 2 cups of apple wood chips on the heating element. 
  11. Cover and grill the turkey for at least 2 hours and 45 minutes, turning it halfway through the cooking time. Maintain the grill temperature from 300°C to 500°C.
  12. Add another 2 cups of apple wood chips halfway through the cooking time. 
  13. After grilling, let the turkey rest for 30 to 60 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute within the turkey instead of spilling out once you cut the meat.
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Nutrution facts for applewood smoked turkey recipe

This applewood smoked turkey recipe yields 12 servings of 4 ounces each. Check out the nutrients you can get per serving:

  • Calories: 294
  • Fat: 7.9g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Protein: 51g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 167mg
  • Iron: 4mg
  • Sodium: 522mg
  • Calcium: 43mg

How to smoke turkey with apple wood

There are some proper and better ways on how to make a smoked turkey with apple wood. Take a look at the best tips you should follow when making the applewood smoked turkey recipe:

  1. Spatchcock your turkey before smoking it to allow the bird to cook evenly. This way, the breast will not dry out first while the legs and thighs are cooking. Moreover, you will be able to apply the rub more evenly this way.
  2. Use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature accurately.
  3. If you don’t want to spatchcock the turkey, make sure not to overstuff the bird since it will insulate the center. As a result, the turkey will cook unevenly, and the breasts will dry out.
  4. Make sure the smoker is always closed to ensure that the flavor is kept inside and will penetrate the turkey.

What are the best flavor pellets to smoke a turkey?

Applewood is one of the best pellets to use for turkey since it adds a sweet flavor to the meat without having to add many seasonings.

However, if apple wood is currently not available or is not up to your liking, you can use other types of flavor pellets for smoking. Here are other types of woods you can use if you do not like smoking a turkey with applewood:

Cherry wood

Cherry wood has a deep, rich, and smoky flavor that compliments the bland and lean turkey meat. It also gives the meat a deep red color that will help increase your dish’s visual appeal.


Oak wood is a classic choice when it comes to cooking red meat, but it is also great with turkey. Its rich and earthy flavor, as well as savory and wooden aroma, creates a turkey dish that doesn’t need the help of sauces and sides. You can also mix oak wood with other types of pellets if you want to experiment with flavors and aromas.

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Alder wood

Alder wood is popular for smoking seafood, but it is also ideal for cooking turkeys. It has a minimum impact on the flavor, so you won’t have any problem using the rub, marinade, or other flavorings of your choice. In addition, Adler wood burns slowly, so it gives off a light and gentle heat.

Hickory wood

Hickory is one of the most versatile woods you can use for grilling and smoking. Since turkey is bland meat, it can get a more complex flavor and aroma when it is smoked using hickory wood. Make sure to experiment a little when it comes to the amount of wood you should use and the length of cooking time so you can get the right balance. 

Maple wood

Maple wood is ideal if you want a mild and slightly sweet flavor similar to what apple wood can produce but with an earthy and spicy taste. Its smoke has a sweet floral note that goes well with turkey.

Pecan wood

Pecan wood provides sweetness, smokiness, and sharpness to your turkey. Its robust smokiness is enough to add a depth of flavor to your dish. Since it has quite a strong flavor, it is not ideal to mix with hickory wood since the combination of those two will result in a harsh sourness to your turkey meat.

How do you cook an apple wood smoked turkey tenderloin?

If you are not fond of preparing a turkey from scratch, there are ready-made products on the market that you can use. One of these products is the Jennie-O Apple wood Smoked Turkey Breast Tenderloin. This pre-seasoned, 99% fat-free, and gluten-free product can be easily grilled or baked on your next barbeque. Here is how you make it:

Total preparation time:

Yield: 6 servings, about 112g each


  • Turkey
  • Water
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Apple powder
  • Refinery syrup
  • Molasses
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Apple wood smoke

Directions for grilling:

  1. Preheat and place the turkey tenderloins on the grill over medium heat.
  2. Turn occasionally and use a meat thermometer to ensure that the temperature won’t exceed 165°F. Let the turkey grill for 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Remove the turkey from the heat and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
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Directions for baking:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the turkey tenderloins in a baking pan and bake it until the meat thermometer reaches 165°F. Bake the turkey for at least 45 to 50 minutes.
  3. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition facts:

Check out the nutrients you can get per serving (about 112g each) below:

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 1g
  • Saturated fat: 5g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 40mg
  • Iron: 2mg
  • Sodium: 410mg
  • Vitamin C: 2mg
  • Sugar: 3g

What is the best smoker for the applewood smoked turkey recipe?

When smoking a turkey with apple wood, one of the best smoker grills to use is Traeger models. This is because Traegers have a spacious cooking area, perfect for grilling large items such as turkeys.

You can also take out the swinging rack from the lid to get more cooking space. You can head to the Grilling Tools section of Brooklyn Grill to check out the 10 best smokers this 2022.

How do you store a smoked turkey with apple wood?

Following the applewood smoked turkey recipe above up to the last step does not indicate the end of your work. When smoking a turkey with apple wood, you also have to know how to store them properly after cooking. 

You can put the leftover turkey in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Make sure to label the container with the date and only to keep it for up to 4 days. Prepare the turkey for storage an hour after it was served to prevent bacteria from accumulating.


Smoking a turkey with applewood imparts a mildly sweet flavor that is perfect for the bird. The applewood smoked turkey recipe is quick and easy to make as long as you know how to do it properly. Make sure that you follow the tips listed above and read the answers to the most asked questions and inquiries. Check out more grilled and smoked recipes here at Brooklyn Grill!

Paul Goral

Paul Goral

I am the founder of Brooklyn Grill and I have a master’s degree in Engineering Acoustics. I love cooking, grilling, and trying new recipes. I also love camping and high-quality knives. I wanted to start this blog and share my passion with others.