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Smoked Turkey Results on MES 30'' Electric Smoker


Joined Nov 1, 2013
I wanted to a test run on smoking before the big feast so I decided to smoke a few wings and turkey legs this past week.  My results were ho hum -- take a look at what I did and please make suggestions as to what I could do better:

1) I used the kosher salt, garlic, sugar, apple cider vinegar brine.  Instead of mixing in chicken stock as i was fresh out, I boiled it all in a quart of water and then put in a chicken bouillon cube.  The results were pretty much the same.   I let it cool and then put it in a big bucket with the turkey parts and left it for 24 hours to brine.

2) Next day -- I didn't wash the turkey.  Instead I opened two slits, put some butter in between the skin and meat on all parts, doused off lightly with a generic mesquite seasoning.

3) I put a combination of 1/4 mesquite chips and 1/4 hickory in the pan.  Because this is an electric smoker, I preheat the chips to make them start smoking faster and never load more than 1/2 cup.  I blast the smoker to 300 degrees, put the pan directly on the element.  This, I found, gives a thin layer of smoke for about 1 hour and 15 minutes and then fizzles out.

4)  I loaded 3 cups of warm water in the tray.  Put the turkey on the racks and then started smoking.

It took about 3.5 hours and about 3 wood chip changes to get to 162 degrees internally.  At each change, I'd crank up the internal temperature to about 265 to get the preheated wood chips to start smoking more quickly and then brought it to 220-240 for most of the cook. The result was a beautiful golden brown color and a noticeable but not overbearing smokey smell/taste.  The pictures of it are consistent with what the other vets posted.

Here were the problems:

The turkey wings and drumsticks were a little dry and a little rough.  Not so much to make them inedible but definitely to the point where the consistency was just a hair or two off.  My wife suggested i take the bird out a few degree sooner, but I'm not sure if that would be safe/done.

When I bake turkey in the oven, I almost always bake it covered for a good 3hrs for a 10 lb bird, and then open the foil wrap turn up the temp and let it get golden brown.  This usually results in a fantastic looking and tasting bird.  I'm wondering, if I should do the same here to get the turkey to melt a little more in the mouth type of consistency.  Is this a good idea with smoking?  I'm wondering what else I can do?  Suggestions would be very much appreciated and welcome.




Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Jul 2, 2012
Jeff put a post up on the Facebook page that he will be doing a turkey will be on the newsletter tomorrow. You can sign up on the Visit Smoking-meat.com sign at the top of this page.


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 4, 2012
Legs and wings can dry out a bit more than the rest of the bird. So doing just those parts isn't really going to give you a true indication of how your smoker is going to smoke a whole turkey. I smoke my birds in a dry smoke chamber, no water pan, etc. I run my smoker anywhere from 285º-325º. If I feel that the wings and legs are getting to dark, I will foil those parts, but I never foil the whole bird. I brine my bird for 12-18 hours. Rinse then air dry for at least 12 hours in the fridge. I have found that using apple and peach woods you get a lighter colored skin. Using cherry and pecan mix turns the skin a nice mahogany color. I'm not a big fan of mesquite on poultry so I don't use it. If you're looking for a crispy skin you have to get the smoker above 300º. If that's not a possibility put the bird in the oven at 425º for the last 30 minutes or so.


Smoking Fanatic
Joined May 2, 2011


RIP. Gone but never forgotten.
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 4, 2013
There is no substitute for cooking a whole bird. The skin is broken or cut when smoking bit & pieces and will not hold the juioces like a whole bird will.

Think of a stove in the kitchen. A gas stove heats water quickly were an electric takes its time. It’s the same with the smoker. Electric is a more precise temp. but it has to really work to recover lost heat. A charcoal or gas recovers fast but it fluctuates (OMG, spellchecker says I spelled that right).

This means with an electric it is very important that you leave the door closed. I read somewhere it takes 15 mins. to recover from opening the door although I doubt that long it does take time. lets say 10 mins. when you expect a 12 hour smoke and open the door once an hour that's a 2 hour adder. Whereas with a fireburner you have to tend the fire, which means you are allowing the moisture to dispensate.

Electric, keep the door shut, doesn't require the moisture like moping, spritzing, injections, or water pans. In over 30 years of being around electrics I can't remember a smoke ring. Push/pull, I can live without the smoke ring, and I can sleep all night not needing to tend the fire. Suggest you either remove the water pan, I use mine for a drip pan. Or some foil line it and fill it with sand, in regards to the heat loss, they use it as a heat sink.

Now we move to the disputed subject of vent position:

If you throw it full open, it will dry your food some, which is desired with brine or cured smoking. But..... if smoke a normal piece of meat/fish/fowl I use the vent to regulate the smoke. When full open you are working the heater maintaining temp., you are burning excessive chips/pellets to smoke. When the vent is regulated or partly closed depending upon the adjustment, it is better using the smoke while more easily holding your temperature.

If you invest in a good aux. smoke generator and not use chips, it is fine either way you decide. If you want to use chips as designed, you need to regulate it. Your call, you must decide how you want to run your smoker. I have done both ways, I have even smoked for years in a totally closed smoker which when done right does fine. It’s about mastering what you want to do.

IT (internal Temp) this is how everything is gauged.  If you have a good remote response thermometer and you are smoking, you can go to bed. It will tell you when the food is done. Turkeys are less than a 6 hour smoke normally.

Lastly, if using chips, I think the general consensus is don't soak them. The only reason I can see for soaking them is allow the food to preheat before it starts smoking. Why? Because from what I have seen here somewhere, maybe Jeff E-Message or a book.... Well from 100 to 140, food is really susceptible to smoke, above and below it has diminished effects. 100 to 149 is when the food is the happiest, other than that you are just pouring the smoke to it. Its all your call. Some like a lot of smoke.

All the other smoking rules I believe are still in effect. LOL....

Let’s see.... Slow recovery keep the door closed, smoke sweet spot 100 to 140, no smoke ring, no moisture needed, learn what you want for your vent adjustment. Add a RF thermometer and sleep all night. It’s really easy to use.

I always forget something and surely someone will come along and give you their opposite opinions., Mastering how you want to do it, That's smoking.

For a while I suggest you take notes, that way it’s easier to learn a new smoker and different techniques. Have patience, it’s had to mess up as you already know.

Most of all just enjoy the smoke! A day when you smoke is always a beautiful day.
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