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Turkey Selection Guide

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You’ve got the best grill for the job, now you just need to get the right bird. This guide will cover you everything you need to know to select the perfect turkey for the big day.

  1. Let’s begin with choosing how much turkey you’ll need:

  2. 8 people: 8-10 lbs.

  3. 12 people: 12-14 lbs.

  4. 16 people: 16-18 lbs.

  5. 20 people: 20-22 lbs.

  1. You’ll want to avoid buying a turkey over 16 pounds. Generally, any bird bigger than that is male turkey. Male turkeys are not as tender as female, and lead to a tougher final product.

So rather than buying the biggest bird you can find, we recommend buying multiple smaller turkeys, or even a 12-13 pound turkey and pairing it with a bone-in turkey breast if you need more than 16 pounds of meat, especially if you want leftovers.


3. When looking at labels, we strongly recommend avoiding the following, otherwise you’ll lose control over the turkey’s flavor profile and end up with an inferior final product.

  • Enhanced
  • Flavor Enhanced
  • Self-Basting
  • Basted

These words mean that the turkey has been pumped up with a solution that adds a significant amount of water weight, as well as salt. Since these birds are already very salty, you won’t be able to add your own brine or rub. They can also result in a spongy texture, and may contain artificial flavors and emulsifiers.


4. And finally, buy a fresh turkey whenever possible. You’ll have to be on the lookout for these within a few days of thanksgiving, as you want them as fresh as possible (although keep in mind that they often sell out quickly, so don’t wait too long). If buying frozen, be sure to allow plenty of time for the turkey to thaw – roughly one day for every five pounds of bird.


5. Now that you’ve figured out how to find your turkey, check out our other guides on prepping, flavoring and cooking a turkey on your Traeger grill.

Best Smoked Turkey

by Traeger Kitchen

Prep Time

20 Min

Cook Time

6 Hr




Turkey Blend

Enjoy the best smoked turkey this holiday season. This bird is brined in our signature citrus brine kit, rubbed down with Turkey rub, and smoked over none other than our Turkey Blend hardwood for flavor inside and out. Learn how to smoke a turkey for your feast.

1 Whole(18-20 lb) turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed
1 Traeger Orange Brine and Turkey Rub Kit
1/2 CupTraeger Pork & Poultry Rub, divided
1/2 PoundUnsalted butter, softened
  • 1

    The day before smoking, brine the turkey according to the Traeger Turkey Brine Kit package instructions. Remove from the brine, rinse, and pat dry.

  • 2

    Season the inside cavity with 2 tablespoons of Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub.

  • 3

    Use your hands to carefully separate the turkey skin from the meat over the breasts, creating a pocket. Spread the softened butter under the skin and over the breasts in an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. Season the outside of the turkey with the remaining Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub to create the best smoked turkey.

  • 4

    Transfer the turkey to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

  • 5

    Remove the turkey from the refrigerator. Truss the legs and tuck the wing tips underneath the bird. Place the turkey in a roasting pan.

  • 6

    When ready to cook, set the Traeger temperature to 225℉ and preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes. For optimal flavor, use Super Smoke, if available.

  • 7

    Insert the probe into the thickest part of the turkey breast. Place the roasting pan on the grill grates. Close the lid and cook until the internal temperature reaches 100-110℉.

  • 8

    Increase the grill temperature to 350℉ and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160℉, about 4 hours more. The time will vary depending on the size of your turkey, your grill, and the weather.

  • 9

    Remove the bird from the grill and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. (The internal temperature will continue to rise to reach a finished temperature of 165°F.) Enjoy!

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Top Traeger Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

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Thanksgiving Tips & Tricks

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