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Last updated: August 14, 2021
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To get the right Thanksgiving flavor, you need the best wood to smoke a turkey, which is harder to find than you may think. Not all of the wood chips, pellets, or chunks available are as high-quality as their manufacturer may claim. Luckily, we have done the necessary research, finding the top wood products on the market for our reviews.
When picking our 6 wood options, there were a few features we focused on. There are a lot of wood types that work well with turkey, adding distinctive flavors to the meat, so we chose several options to pick from. We also added chunks, chips, and pellets since smokers and grills use different types, so you can choose the right wood cut for the unit you’re using. We also added different package sizes to suit your smoking frequency. For our detailed reviews and buying guide, read on.
If you’re looking for the best wood to use to smoke a turkey, the Weber Cherry Wood Chunks are a great option. These high-quality wood chunks have a lovely fruity flavor that they add to your favorite meats, including turkey and other poultry. They also work well with pork, fish, and veggies, so you can use them for almost any meal you prepare.
The cherry flavor of these wood chunks is subtle, so it enhances the flavor of your meats and vegetables instead of overwhelming you with the fruity taste. The wood is also all-natural, so you don’t need to worry about any filler or chemical additives spoiling the flavor and ruining your smoked meals.
As well as using these flavorful wood chunks to add some great smoky flavor to your food, you can also add them in with your charcoal briquettes as an alternative heat source, adding the cherry flavor during the grilling process. There are also a few other wood chunk options to choose from, including hickory, pecan, mesquite, and apple.
What stands out? The Weber Cherry Wood Chunks are all-natural, with a great fruity flavor that enhances almost any meal. They are also decently priced, plus there are a few other wood options to choose from.
What could be better: These cherry wood chunks may be too large for some smoker trays, so you may need to break them in half or smaller to fit them in there.
When you’re making your Thanksgiving turkey, you want it to taste spectacular. The Traeger Grills Turkey Blend Pellet can make this happen. This blend of hickory, oak, and maple hardwoods, with some rosemary thrown in for some extra flavor, is designed specifically for turkey, giving it the perfect sweet and smoky taste.
This mix of hardwoods is 100% food-grade premium pellets, with no extra fillers, bark, binding agents, or other additives tossed in that could ruin the smoky flavor. There are 20 pounds of pellets in the box, so you have more than enough to smoke that turkey to perfection.
As well as the wood pellets, this box also contains a kit that you can use to prepare the turkey before cooking it. This kit includes a tasty orange brine that adds a full, delicious flavor and locks in the moisture and a turkey rub that creates spicy and savory crust. There is also a full set of instructions to help you prepare your turkey from start to finish.
Why did it make our list? The Traeger Grills Turkey Blend Pellet box contains all-natural hardwood that is a blend of 4 delicious flavors and burns clean for a better tasting bird. The brine and rub kit is a nice addition.
What could be better: Though this blend of wood pellets, along with the rub and brine kit, is designed for turkey and other poultry, so you may need to keep other pellets on hand for your, beef, pork, seafood, and other meats.
The best wood chips to smoke a turkey don’t have to cost a fortune, as the Camerons Products Hickory Wood Smoker Chips have proven. As well as having a decent price for a 2-pound bag, these smoking wood chips are also versatile. You can use them with charcoal grills, gas grills, smoker boxes, and indoor smokers, so you can cook your turkey however you like.
As well as being great wood chips for your holiday poultry, these hickory chips are great for beef, pork, wild game, and even some tasty cheeses. You can use them year-round or switch them up with some of Cameron Products other flavors, like mesquite, oak, apple, alder, or pecan to give the perfect flavor to your meals.
These wood chips are completely natural, so they are free of chemicals. Instead, these specially-treated chips are kiln-dried raw timber that adds only the best flavors with no harmful additives. They are extra-fine cut, so they ignite quickly and easily, even for beginners to the smoking process.
Why are we impressed? The Camerons Products Hickory Wood Smoker Chips are 100% natural, extra-fine cut wood chips for easy smoking. They also have a decent price and come in multiple flavors for the perfect meal.
What negatives must you be aware of? Though there aren’t any issues with the wood chips themselves, the bag they come in doesn’t seal after you open it. You may need to put them in a separate container to keep them free of moisture.
The best wood to smoke a turkey or any other meat needs to be all-natural and free of those fillers that alter the taste of the wood and the meat it is smoking. The ASMOKE Smoking Wood Pellets are sourced from real fruit orchards, using only the wood from those fruit trees, with no blends or filler added to keep the pellets perfectly pure.
Not only do the pellets lack those unwanted extras, but the trees are also all cut, chipped, and the pellets are created in a few days from start to finish, so they are as fresh as possible. The bags are also tear-resistant to ensure the pellets stay that way until you’re ready to use them.
As well as being sustainably sourced and high-quality pellets, the ASMOKE pellets have a light, sweet flavor when used in your smoker. This adds a lovely smoky taste to your turkey, as well as chicken, lamb, beef, seafood, and vegetables. They burn clean, leaving very little ash to clean up when the meat is ready to eat.
What makes it special? The ASMOKE Smoking Wood Pellets are high-quality, sourced from real fruit orchards, with no filler, which adds a great light, sweet flavor, and burns clean. They are also versatile, working well with all types of meats and veggies.
What could be better: This 5-pound bag of ASMOKE Smoking Wood Pellets is quite expensive, though the high quality of the pellets and lack of filler may make it worth the price.
When making your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t want to overshadow the flavor of the meat when you’re smoking it. Using the Western Premium BBQ Products Post Oak BBQ Cooking Chunks in your gas, charcoal, or electric grill or smoker adds a subtle, smoky flavor to the meat, enhancing it instead of drowning it out.
These oak wood chunks are heat-treated, which prevents mold, rot, and pests, so the wood you receive is as high-quality as when it was packed in the bag. This maintains the flavor of the wood, which is pure and free of chemicals and additives.
As well as being a great wood for smoking a turkey, these chunks work well with beef, pork, fish, and even a nice brisket. There are also a variety of other wood chunks available, including hickory, cherry, apple, maple, mesquite, and pecan. This allows you to switch out the wood chunks, depending on the meals you’re smoking, or mix them up for a nice combination of flavors.
What makes it stand out? This heat-treated wood is of good quality, with few chips and more chunks in the bag. It has a lovely smoky flavor, plus there are other wood options available for added convenience.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? These wood chunks are a bit pricy, though the high-quality may be worth the cost. Oak is also quite hard, so it may be difficult to break up larger chunks when needed.
If you prefer wood chunks over chips and pellets, the Camerons Products Smoking Wood Chunks is a good option. These pecan wood chunks come in a 10-pound bag that you can use to smoke whatever you like, though this flavor works particularly well with turkey, chicken, and game birds.
The pecan flavor of this wood is quite distinctive and a bit stronger than most of the other available smoking woods, though it isn’t overpowering. Instead of completely altering the flavor of your chosen meat, it enhances it for the best-tasting meal possible.
The wood chunks in this bag are all-natural, with no filler or unwanted additives to spoil the flavor. These pieces are kiln-dried and precision cut for the best performance possible. It is recommended to soak them in water and place them in the bottom of your charcoal grill or right on the grilling area of a gas model.
What we liked: The Camerons Products Smoking Wood Chunks are completely natural, high-quality pecan wood chunks with a strong flavor. They are also versatile, so you can use these chunks with any meat that you like to enhance the flavor.
What cons did we manage to find? Though these are quality wood chunks, they are a bit pricy for a 10-pound bag. There also may be a lot of chips in the bag instead of all chunks, though this depends on how the bag has been handled before and during delivery.
People have been smoking meat for centuries, so it’s no wonder that turkey has made it onto the smoking menu. Of course, you can’t just use any wood for smoking a turkey, you need to choose the right wood to create a smoky flavor that will complement these large birds. You also need to choose the right wood cut for the smoker or grill that you’re using. To help you pick the perfect wood to smoke a turkey, check out our buying guide below.
What wood type is ideal for smoking turkey
When smoking a turkey, there are several great wood options to choose from, depending on what type of flavor you’re looking for. Hickory is the classic choice, with its distinctive, robust flavor. The downside is that hickory is quite strong, so you should use it sparingly, possibly mixed with other lighter woods to create the perfect flavor, like the hickory, oak, maple, and rosemary blend in the Traeger Grills Turkey Blend Pellet package.
Oak is another classic wood for smoking and has become a favorite for making turkey. This wood gives your bird a rich, full flavor, though, like hickory, it can be overwhelming if too much smoke is used. Less is more with oak wood, so use only a little or mix it with woods with lighter flavors for a nice mix.
Maple is another great wood for smoking a turkey, thanks to its sweet flavor. It can also give your meat a nice golden hue, which looks delicious on the dinner table.
Fruit woods, like the apple wood in the ASMOKE Smoking Wood Pellets or the Weber Cherry Wood Chunks, add their fruity flavor into the foods that you’re smoking. The smoke has a delicate flavor that won’t overpower those lighter meats, like turkey, chicken, or other poultry.
Alder wood has a lovely earthy flavor that is nice and mild, making it more forgiving for those who are trying their hand at smoking for the first time. It works well on its own with turkey, plus you can mix it with some other stronger woods to help tone down their flavors.
Those in the southern states are partial to mesquite for its powerful flavor, though this may be too much on its own for the light meat of a turkey. This wood can be mixed with some lighter woods, like the alder or the fruit woods, to tone it down without removing the robust flavor completely.
Pecan wood is also strong and distinctive, which can overpower a nice turkey or other light meats, though it adds a nice flavor, so don’t count it out. Like with the hickory or mesquite, use it sparingly or mix it with other woods to tone the strong flavor down.
Which woods to avoid
There are a few different types of wood that you should avoid when smoking a turkey and even your other meats, cheeses, and vegetables. These woods include evergreen, pine, spruce, eucalyptus, and redwood. This is because these types of wood are quite resinous, so will leave a lot of residue in your smoker or grill, which is difficult to remove afterward. The cooking resin will also alter the taste of your meat. Some of these woods can also produce dangerous smoke that could affect your health.
As well as these types of woods, you should also avoid any woods with mold or fungus growing on them. Painted or chemically-treated woods also shouldn’t be used for smoking since the chemicals will ruin the flavor of your foods and could cause some health damage.
Features to consider when choosing wood to smoke turkey
When choosing the wood you need to smoke a turkey, there are a few features you need to consider. This will ensure you not only have the perfect wood for flavor but also the right type and amount to get the job done.
As well as the kind of wood, you also need to choose how it is cut or processed to be used in your smoker. There are 3 options to choose from, including wood pellets, chips, and chunks. The pellets are designed to be used with pellet grills or smokers, so if you have one of these units, pellets are the best option.
For other types of grills and smokers, the choice of chips or chunks depends more on personal preference. There are some differences in how you use them as well. For instance, wood chips burn quite quickly, so many people soak them in hot water for about 15 minutes before lighting them to prevent them from turning to ash before the chips can produce enough smoke.
Wood chunks, like the Western Premium BBQ Products Post Oak BBQ Cooking Chunks, don’t need to be soaked in water before you use them, due to their large size. They burn longer, so you usually need fewer chunks than chips. This also means you need to open the smoker less often to replenish the wood, keeping the smoke in the unit where it belongs. The downside to wood chunks is that they are harder to light than wood chips, and it takes more time for them to get burning properly to produce the smoke needed.
The package size on wood for smoking is usually displayed in cubic inches, telling you the interior size of the package instead of the external dimensions. This is because wood like this is usually put into bags rather than boxes, with some exceptions of course, like the Traeger Grills Turkey Blend Pellet. The higher the cubic inches amount, the more space in the bag, and the more wood you’ll have to use.
When purchasing wood, you’ll usually use the weight of the bag to determine which one to buy, depending on how much smoking you plan on doing. If you’re only smoking a single turkey for a holiday dinner, then a small package, like the 2-pound bag of Camerons Products Hickory Wood Smoker Chips, is a fine option. For more frequent smoking, you may want a heavier, larger package to ensure you have enough to last for a while.
How much wood is necessary for smoking one turkey depends on the type of wood you’re using. This is because wood chips burn faster than wood chunks, so you will need more of them to do the job correctly. For smoking a whole turkey, you should need about 6 ounces of wood chips or 4-6 ounces of wood chunks. The smoke should be blue instead of white for the proper flavor and to avoid over-smoking your turkey.
This depends on how you’re using your wood. Wood chips burn much faster, so some people soak them in water for about 15 minutes to help them last longer while still creating that nice smoky flavor. You can also use them dry to create the smoke faster. Wood chunks are placed right into the coals, so no prep is needed. Wood pellets also don’t get soaked first, so you don’t need to prep them either
The perfect wood can add the right flavor, enhancing your holiday turkey to make the meal more memorable. Though all the options in our reviews are great choices, we do have a few favorites.
Our top choice is the Weber Cherry Wood Chunks, which has a light, subtle, fruity flavor that is perfect for turkey, pork, fish, and veggies. It comes in a 4-pound bag, is all-natural, has a great low price, and can even be used as an alternate heat source if needed.
The Traeger Grills Turkey Blend Pellet is a dedicated turkey blend of oak, hickory, maple, and rosemary. This 20-pound bag of all-natural, food-grade, premium pellets burns clean for less mess. This package also contains a brine and rub kit for added flavor.
The Camerons Products Hickory Wood Smoker Chips are all-natural, kiln-dried raw timber with an extra-fine cut for easy lighting. They are versatile, so you can use them in most grill or smoker types and with various meats and cheeses.