Need expert opinions

D Livingston

TVWBB Member
A few years ago, I smoked a turkey with hickory and I thought it was the best turkey I've made. Unfortunately, my wife did not and I have not smoked turkey since. For the last several years for Christmas and/or Thanksgiving (whichever one we stayed home for), I've roasted the turkey in my cast iron dutch oven roughly following this recipe from Lodge. That has gone over very well with the family. I think I've come up with a compromise, but would like opinions from the experts here.

Essentially, set up my Master Touch and let it get good and hot. Place the dutch oven with the turkey, uncovered, in the Master Touch opening in the grate (it fits perfectly), add a chunk of wood on the coals, put the lid on the kettle, and let it go for about half an hour. Then transfer back into the kitchen oven to finish up as in the recipe.

My questions,

Would that half hour be enough to impart a little of the smokey goodness that I want, yet short enough to keep it closer to what my wife likes?

Would using apple wood instead of hickory be better for turkey?

I am imagining the coals placed in a ring like the snake method, but with all of them lit. Would that work?

Maybe Thanksgiving dinner when my parents are coming over isn't the best time to experiment.


NEVER (and never is a very strong word) experiment on friends and relatives. Unless you no longer want those friends and relatives. :)

That said, I am no expert, but my first turkey this year will be with Cherry wood. I’ve read a lot of reviews stating that you should stick with mild woods, apple or cherry fall in that bucket. Hickory would be way to strong IMHO.

Steven P (Tupelo)

TVWBB Super Fan
I would just do the turkey like you normally do. I agree with not experimenting for holiday meals. I doubt that you'd get much smoke flavor in an uncovered dutch oven for 30 minutes. If you want to change things up, you could practice before the next time and find a new way.


NEVER (and never is a very strong word) experiment on friends and relatives. Unless you no longer want those friends and relatives. :)


I apparently like to live dangerously. For probably 10 years in a row I cooked the turkey(s) outside in a different cooker or different technique. For some of those years I had a backup in the oven but I started going without a net once everyone loved whatever came in from outside. I used kettles, wsm's, stick burners, cheap charcoal grills, caja china, etc. Stakes are high on a holiday but it keeps me focused.

But to answer the question, I would either cook it inside or cook it outside. Trying a combination might create unnecessary stresses. If you are going to cook it outside, maybe just go with the charcoal and don't add wood chunks. That way it still gets that outdoor thing but without the smokey flavor. My wife didn't love the smoke turkeys the first couple years but everyone else devoured them. I think I may have been too heavy on the smoke in the early years too though. She loves it now and I cook 2 birds.

I am again using a different cooker this year. Last year I did one on the ceramic and one on the 26. This year it's 2 on the Ranch!

MikeS in Alaska

Depending on the 'thickness' of the smoke, you might want to smoke it for no more than 15 minutes. It depends on what was the original objection to the smoked bird.

I've gotten carried away with hickory smoke on chicken to the point where the bird tasted similar to a rubber eraser. A little bit of apple, pecan, peach, or similar fruit wood would do the job, remember, less is more. My preference is to use a touch of alder. Must be the Alaska coming out in me.

Would I do it? In a heart beat. Lid off dutch oven, indirect heat, billowing plumes of smoke, then into the oven. Should you? Depends on the crowd.

You could always cook two birds. The Lodge recipe looks good and I like their enameled cast iron dutch oven. You could ease into a 'smoked' turkey by cooking one on the kettle over charcoal without smoke wood. There is still a subtle taste difference in my opinion.

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Hey, be BALLSY! Do it any way YOU want, if people don’t like it, let them do the next one! I experiment on anyone that is brave enough to come to my table!