Best Wood For Smoking Turkey (Wood Chips)[Top 7]

Best Wood For Smoking Turkey

When most people think of a turkey, they tend to think of Christmas or Thanksgiving. While this is the perfect meat to serve on either of these occasions, a turkey is really something that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. This is especially true when it has been smoked with the right wood.

The right wood being the key phrase here. The only problem is, you have flavors ranging from pecan to hickory and even maple. Where does one start and does it even make a difference in the end product? Of course, it does and that is exactly what you are going to learn here today.

[Related Article: How To Season Wood For Smoking]

Tips For Choosing The Best Wood

When trying to pick the best wood for smoking, you’ll need to consider several things. First and foremost, you’ll need to choose the right type. You’ll have plenty of options to play around with. For instance, you can choose pecan, hickory, oak, and others. When selecting wood, you have to be cautious about choosing wood chips. While they work great, they’re going to have a short burn life. So, you should only use them when necessary.

Instead, it is best to choose wood chunks that are three to four inches. They’ll burn longer and mix great with charcoal. While you’re at it, you’ll want to try using small splits. Since they’re long and thin, they’re going to burn evenly and provide a consistent amount of smoke.

You may feel the need to soak your wood but you shouldn’t. Soaking your wood is going to diminish the amount of smoke it produces. If you follow this advice, you won’t have any problems smoking your turkey and giving it a delicious taste.


Cherrywood is probably one that many cookers are familiar with. This is especially true if you are just getting into the smoked game. Whether this is the case or not, if you have never taken advantage of cherrywood, you are going to be in for a real treat. Not only does this wood imbued your turkey with a touch of sweetness, while not overpowering it, but it creates a beautiful presentation.

When your overall product is good at the right temperature for the right length of time it will develop a nice deep red color. It will certainly be one of the meats that stand out on the table.

You can buy these on Amazon here, Cherry Chunks.


Hickory is a popular wood for smoking all kinds of meat. It is especially good for turkey, as it can add the perfect amount of sweetness. The turkey will come out juicy with a hint of sweet flavor. Some professional chefs recommend adding additional ingredients, such as maple glaze or honey to enhance the sweetness. The combinations are more often utilized to cure ham than smoking turkey but it still fairly popular.

You can buy these on Amazon here. Hickory Chunks.


Oak is utilized smoke chicken, baby back ribs, and turkey. It really depends on the size of your turkey, as whether or not to utilize oak. Since oak is more suitable for shorter smokes, if your turkey is over 12 pounds, it may be better to opt for a different type of wood. The longer the oak is smoked, the more overpowering its flavors, which would be too much for most people.

You can buy these on Amazon here. Oak Chunks.


Olive is one of the most difficult woods to get your hands own. But, it is a great option for smoking turkey. It can add the perfect amount of fruity flavors to the turkey. If you are a fan of fruity flavors, such as apple and mango, you may like olive as well.

You can buy these on Amazon here. Olive.

[Related Article: Best Wood For Smoking Salmon]

Pecan Wood

If you find that you like the sweet flavor imparted on your turkey by cherry then you should give pecan a try as well. It is one that will also create a sweet flavor, but there is one major difference here.

And, that difference is richness. Pecan is a far richer wood. It will create a slight nut-like layer of flavor all around the outside of the meat.

You’ll find that pecan is far sweeter than that of cherry so if cherry if lacking for you then pecan will be the way to go. On the other, it may be too overwhelming for some people’s palettes.

You can buy these on Amazon here. Pecan Chunks.


If both cherry and pecan are a bit much for you or if you just want to try something a little different, you always have the option of maple. It will still create a sweet-like flavor, but it will be nowhere as near as powerful as what you would get from pecan or cherry. In fact, it gives off just a touch of flavor on the outer layer of the skin.

The great thing about maple is that you will still be able to enjoy the natural flavors of the turkey right along with the beautiful flavors created by the maple.

This is just one of the many reasons that people opt for maple when it comes to ribs and other pork products. However, you will be surprised by what it does to poultry as well. Give it a try and you certainly won’t be disappointed.

You can buy these on Amazon here. Maple Chunks.


Here is a really neat one. And, the neatest thing about it is that it offers a sweet taste, but it combines that good sweetness with a delicate fruity flavor. This one is also far more mellow when compared side by side to cherry or pecan.

There are probably a lot of other sites on the Internet that would rank apple as their number one go-to wood for turkey, but the thing about it is that the flavor in apple smoke can be so subtle that it can actually take a long time to penetrate into the meat and infuse it with flavor.

And, the major problem with this is that turkey is prone to drying out. Finding that perfect balance before you end up drying out your bird might prove more difficult than you would imagine. This is not to say that it can’t be done because it certainly can!

You can buy these on Amazon here. Apple Chunks.


Smoking turkey is one of the best ways to enjoy this delicious food. You can enhance its flavor immense by smoking it with the right wood. There are plenty of options here and each wood is going to provide different benefits.

It may take experience and experimentation before you can find out what is going to work best for you. Once you’ve found that taste that you love, you’ll know you’ve selected the best wood for your smoked turkey.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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