The Best Wood Chips To Use When Smoking A Turkey
Choosing the best wood chips for smoking turkey can seem quite daunting sometimes. There are so many different types of wood to use, and each has a specific amount of heat and smoke they are able to create.
The choice of your wood will also determine the flavor you turkey will possess. Some wood chips can be very strong and heavy in flavor while others are very light and subtle.
Turkey is very delicate meat and can tend to dry out fairly fast if not cooked or prepared properly, so choosing the correct wood when smoking is absolutely vital to the cooking process.
How To Choose Wood Chips For Smoking Turkey
Choosing different types of wood used for smoking turkey can be tricky picking the best one. Turkey needs a mild flavored smoke that is lighter and not as dense as to not overpower the natural flavors of the turkey.
A sweeter and fruity wood will be the best option to add flavor to the turkey. These woods tend to be denser and smoke for a longer amount of time while creating a nicely balanced smoky flavor.
Benefits of using wood chips
Using just charcoal or propane to smoke your turkey is just fine but why not add some extra flavors to the meat in the process. Wood chips are not used necessarily an extra source of heat to use but more of an added bonus. Particular wood chips will bring an extra subtle flavoring to the turkey without overpowering the charcoal.
Different aspects of wood chips
Each wood chip has its own unique element it brings to the smoker. Some wood can create a heavier, thicker smoke to really help penetrate those flavors into your meat while other are very light and just accent or compliment the meat.
Some wood chips also burn faster than others and may need to be soaked in liquid to help them burn slower and last longer. The size of the wood chips also matters a great deal. Some wood chips come in 3- or 4-inch blocks while some can be as small as wood shavings.
The blocks, of course, will burn slower than the smaller shavings, but the shavings will bring a more intense flavored smoke to the smoker.
The best way to use wood chips
Wood chips are used as flavor enhancers to add to your already started heat source. They are meant to aid the other fuel source in smoke and flavor.
Adding wood chips to your charcoal or wood fire gradually throughout the smoking process is the usual method. A great trick is to soak the wood chips in water, so they take longer to burn and smolder easier on top of an already hot fire.
Make sure to soak your wood chips for at least an hour before using to allow them to retain as much water as possible.
What you should not do
Do not start your wood fire using lighter fluid or any other non-natural fire starter. This will add the flavor of the fluid to the meat and will defeat the purpose of using wood to smoke your meat.
Try and use any natural fire starter or dry kindling to build your fire up. It is ok to soak your wood chips in water or any other natural liquid before smoking, but your fire will not start using them.
Start a fire with dry wood first and then as the wood begins to catch fire creating less smoke, place the wet wood chips on the fire to douse the flames.
WESTERN 78057 Oak Cooking Wood Chunks
Oak is a very nice and versatile wood to use for smoking turkey due to its good balance between smoke and flavor. The wood will burn for a longer amount of time with thick smoke because of the denseness of the wood.
These wood chips are one of the top-rated oak wood chips to use and are reasonably priced.
The size of the wood is 4-inch blocks which also make it easy to use as the sole source of heat within the smoker. The blocks may also be added to any charcoal grill gradually to bring a nice subtle oakiness to the turkey.
The wood is 100% all natural and comes in a plastic bag making it easy to fill with water to soak the chips. The bags are 8 pounds in size, and the wood seems to all be pretty uniform in size.
While this is a good choice, oak will not really bring any sweetness or bold flavor to the turkey. The company has also had some errors with shipping and the bag becoming torn causing the wood to be damaged, rotten or underweight.
· Uniform in size
· 100% all natural
· Reasonably priced
· May be used as a sole source of heat
· The bag can become damaged during shipping
· Lack of flavor
Jack Daniels Wood BBQ Smoking Chips (2 Pack)
Here is another oak wood chip that is great to use for smoking turkey. These wood chips are made from old white oak barrels that were used to store whiskey.
The bags are about 1 ½ pound in weight and contain small one-inch wood chips that are ideal for adding to any charcoal grill to bring the intense smoke flavor. Shipping has also been very good with very minimal problems with the bags ripping, and wood becoming damaged or rotten. The bags are also resealable to lock out any unwanted moisture.
The subtle flavor of oak with the strong flavor of Tennessee whisky well work very well with the natural flavors of turkey.
These wood chips are very strong in flavor and need to be used at seldom. Using too much at once or constantly can overpower the turkey and create a somewhat bad smell while smoking the turkey. These wood chips also cannot be used as a sole source of heat but only as an accent wood to bring the flavor.
· Great shipping process
· Extra flavor in addition to oak flavor
· Resealable bags
· Strong, pungent smell during the smoking process
· Cannot be used as a sole source of heat
WESTERN Prime Wood BBQ Smoking Chips Variety Pack
Here is another WESTERN product that is also 100% all natural. The best thing about this product is the versatility. The package comes with (4) different flavors of wood chips to give you a variety of choices.
The wood chip flavors are Maple, Apple, Peach, and Cherry which are all great woods for smoking turkey. These woods chips are from a very dense wood that creates a very thick smoke. The flavors of the wood chips are also very subtle but present when smoking. These wood flavors will not overpower the turkey’s flavors but rather complement them.
With the many different choices of wood to choose from you can also choose which type of smoker to use them in since they are able to be used in electric smokers as well.
These wood chips are also 1 inch in size making them ideal for flavoring but poor as a sole heat source. The price is a little higher but still affordable, and with the number of testimonies, it seems worth the shot.
· Four different types of wood chips
· All flavors work very well with turkey
· Work in all types of smokers
· Cannot be used as a sole heat source
· More expensive
· Will burn faster than larger wood chips
Weber-Stephen Products Apple Wood Chips
These 100% all-natural wood chips would be perfect to smoke turkey or any meat for that matter. They come in 1 ½ pound bags and are one inch in size.
Apple is a very dense wood that is great to use for smoking turkey due to the thick smoke it produces. The light and sweet flavors the apple wood brings to the meat are quite nice as well. Apple is a very versatile wood as it works great with any food you plan on smoking especially pork products. So, if you have some left over, try using them on other meats you plan on smoking.
These wood chips are too small to be used as a sole proprietor of heat, and there have been some complaints of the wood chips not being uniform and varying in different sizes.
Although the bag is resealable, there have been some problems with the bag being of poor quality and ripping. While this product does have a few problems, it is extremely affordable.
· Resealable bag
· Apple works great for smoking turkey
· Very affordable
· Problems with bag ripping
· Wood chips are not uniform in size
· Cannot be used as a sole source of heat
Char-Broil Cherry Wood Smoker Chips
These wood chips from Char-Broil are a great wood to use for smoking turkey. They are made from cherry wood and come in 2-pound bags.
Like most other fruit woods, cherry is a dense wood that brings a nice dense smoke to the smoker. The smoke will also be lightly flavor with a sweet fruity flavor. This wood is also great because it can be used as the sole source of heat for smoking the turkey, but it is recommended to buy more than one bag for smoking a large turkey.
Although these bags contain an affordable, quality wood perfect for smoking turkey, they are not resealable and have been known to rip and fall apart. The wood has also been known to burn very fast as cherry wood should not.
To put in perspective, even though they can be used as a sole heat source, it would be better to use them as a flavoring agent in the long run.
· Cherry wood is great for smoking turkey
· Can be used as sole source of heat
· Easily affordable
· Poor quality bags, not resealable
· Wood chips may burn fast
· Need more than one bag for smoking
What is the temperature of a fully cooked turkey?
The temperature of the breast of the turkey should be measured by placing the thermometer next to the sternum or breastplate of the bird and should be no lower than 165 degrees. The thighs should be measured at the bone with an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
How long does it take to smoke a 12/15-pound turkey?
Make sure to maintain a constant internal temperature of the smoker at 225 degrees. A good rule of thumb at this temperature is 30 minutes for every pound you intend to cook. So, for a 12-pound turkey, the smoking process will take about 6 hours. Just make sure that the internal temperature of the turkey is 180 degrees before removing it from the smoker.
How should you prep a turkey for smoking?
The best way to prepare a turkey is to place it in a brine (a mixture of salt, water, and seasonings) overnight before cooking. This process adds moisture to the bird while cooking. Turkey tends to be very dry and can lose a lot of moisture during smoking.
Having a brine or adding moisture to your smoker will help the final end product. After the brine, rinse the turkey completely and season accordingly. Place tablespoons of butter in between the skin and the meat to add extra moisture to the bird and help the skin crisp up and get dark golden brown.
Allow the turkey to rest for at least 1 hour after cooking to let the meat settle and retain some of the juices from the cooking process.
How do I brine a Turkey?
Fill up a 5-gallon bucket ¾ of the way with cold water. Add in 2 pounds of kosher salt, 1 cup of sugar, ¼ cup of peppercorns and 4 bay leaves. Stir the mixture well and place the cleaned turkey in the bucket. Allow the turkey to brine for at least 12 hours before smoking to help the osmosis process. You can do this overnight in the fridge if you want.
What are the best wood chips to use for smoking turkey?
We think that at this day in age, variety is the spice of life! The best wood chips to purchase for smoking a turkey are the WESTERN Prime Wood BBQ Smoking Chips Variety Pack.
With 4 different flavors of chips available to you, you are able to mix and match the different combos to find out what flavors work best for you and your smoker. They are also 4 different flavors that work very well with turkey, so you don’t have to worry about contrasting flavors and light smoke density.
Although they made be on the pricier side of most wood chips, you will be getting a quality product with many different choices at your fingertips, which is always a good thing.