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The Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

The Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

When you are smoking turkey, you are cooking it over firewood. Turkey is a popular type of meat that Americans love to consume during the holidays, but turkey is good even throughout the holiday season!

Smoking a turkey helps give it a smoky flavor that adds to the already natural flavors that exist.

In this article, we are going to break down the best types of wood to use when smoking a turkey. You will also learn what size of wood is best to smoke meat with as well!

Need to make sure the fire does not get too out of control!

Best Wood for Smoking Turkey


Maple wood comes from pale trees that can not only be found in North America but also in Eurasia. Typically, when you think of maple wood, you think of furniture, buildings, floors, etc. However, it can also be used in cooking as well!

Now imagine how maple tastes. It is very sweet, and this sweetness does indeed translate straight over to the smoked meat as well. Smoking turkey over maple wood gives it a lovely, sweet flavor that is on the mild side.

Sweet enough for people to enjoy some richness to their meat, but not so sweet that it is going to be jarring.

If you want something that is in between, then maple wood is the choice you should go with when making a smoked turkey.


Cherrywood is a type of hardwood found in the United States. More often than not, you will find these trees in the Northeast part of the United States, so think of states like New York and Pennsylvania, to name a few.

Not that they can’t grow elsewhere, but they are most commonly found in this part of the USA.

Using cherry wood to smoke a turkey will add a great sweet taste to your turkey. It is on the subtle side, so you do not have to worry about the sweetness overpowering it.

Also, if you use cherry wood, you notice that your turkey will end up a reddish-brown color after all the smoking is finished.


Alder wood is a hardwood but is probably the softest one out there in the hardwood family. It is usually found in the Pacific Northwest and is often used to make furniture, doors, carvings, and kitchen utensils, to name a few.

While it may not be the most common wood to use for smoking meat, it can also be used for that too!

Smoking a turkey over alder wood gives it a smoky and earthy flavor that is very mild.

For those people who do not want a moderate to rich smoky flavor infused into their meat, alder might be the best option to cook with.


Pecan wood is found in North America from the pecan tree. It should not be hard to figure out that these trees are used to gather the pecans that form on the trees, but they also are used to make timber as well.

With pecan wood, you get the best of both worlds.

Out of all the fruit trees used for smoking meat, pecan is the most common. It adds the typical smoky flavor with the addition of a sweet and sharp flavor to the turkey.

This is a combination that cannot find anywhere else.


Oakwood is another type of hardwood that is native to the Northern Hemisphere. This durable type of wood has around 600 different types, with 90 of them being found in North America alone.

This wood is used in a variety of things, which include construction, flooring, barrels, and firewood.

When smoking a turkey with oak wood, the flavor is going to be more on the rich side, but when compared to other woods with rich flavors, it is on the subtle end.

If you like a rich flavor and prefer something not too rich, then Oakwood is for you.

Also, you might end up with a reddish tint to the meat if you use one of the red oak species.


Applewood is a type of wood that is harvested from the apple tree, which should not be a surprise given the name.

These trees can be found all over the world, and most of the time, they are used simply to get access to the apples it produces. However, some people do happen to use it for cooking.

Like other fruit trees out there, the wood from the apple tree will give your smoked turkey a sweet and fruity flavor.

The major difference is that it will be on the milder side compared to other woods from fruit trees. For those that dislike very sweet things, this is the option for you.

Size of Wood

When you are going to smoke meat, you need to worry about the size of the wood along with the type. The following are the most common types of sizes:

  • Chips: Shavings and wood scraps that burn quickly. Best for smaller pieces of meat.
  • Pellets that come in sawdust form. Great to use if you have a pellet grill in your possession.
  • Chunks are fist-sized pieces of wood. Unlike chips which burn out very quickly, it lasts a few hours, so it is great for those larger pieces of meat out there.
  • Logs are large pieces of wood in a cylinder shape. They are like chunk-sized pieces of wood and last a long time. Best for larger pieces of meat.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it all, you smoked meat lovers out there! These are the six types of wood that are best for smoking your turkey over.

This does not have a list of every type of wood you could use, but these are the choices that stand out from the rest.

It will add a lot of flavor to your turkey, and you know the size of the wood to use. This way, nothing will get ruined during the cooking process.

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