10+ Reasons to Try Apple or Cherry Wood for Smoking Your Next Turkey

Using apple or cherry wood for smoking turkey can add a mild, sweet flavor, create a unique fruity taste, produce a light smoke that won’t overpower, and offer easy availability for beginners and experienced pitmasters to experiment with mixing wood types and smoking other meats.

cherry wood in smoker box

Smoking a turkey is an excellent way to bring out the flavor of this tasty bird, and using apple or cherry wood for smoking turkey can add even more depth and complexity.

In this article, we’ll explore why apple and cherry wood are fantastic options for your next smoked turkey and answers to questions regarding how to get the best results.

Whether you’re new to smoking meats or an experienced pitmaster looking for something different, this guide will give you all the inspiration to take the leap and try using fruitwood when smoking turkeys, thus taking your cooking skills up another notch!

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1. Apple and Cherry Woods Produce a Mild, Sweet Flavor

Fruitwoods like apple and cherry are some of the most popular smoking woods for poultry because they produce a mild, sweet, incredibly delicious flavor.

Apple wood gives poultry a subtle sweetness, while apple wood lends it a sweet, slightly tart, and fruity character. These woods won’t overpower the flavor of the bird but rather enhance it and make it even more enjoyable.

2. Apple Wood Adds a Fruity Flavor to Turkey

Stainless steel smoking pucks with smoking apple chips.

As touched upon above, applewood, in particular, creates a distinct yet very subtle fruity flavor that makes the turkey taste unique.

This is a lovely flavor profile, especially for the fall and winter holidays when you might wish to pair the turkey with similar flavors, such as cranberry sauce, sweet applesauce, or a plate of peach pie!

3. They Produce a Light Smoke That Won’t Be Too Overpowering

As we just mentioned, one advantage of using fruitwood for smoking turkey is that the mild smoke they produce won’t overpower the bird’s flavor.

This makes them a great option for beginners just getting used to smoking meat.

4. Cherry Wood and Apple Wood Are Easy To Find

Weber 17139 Apple Wood Chunks, Cubic Meter, 350 cu. in. (0.006 m³)

Apple and cherry wood for smoking turkey are readily available, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding them at your local grocery store, hardware store, or online.

5. You Can Mix and Match These Wood Types

Another great thing about using apple or cherry wood for smoking turkey is that you can easily mix and match different woods to create unique flavor combinations.

For example, you could pair apple wood with oak for a fruity-earthy flavor, or you could combine cherry with hickory for a delicious smoky-sweet flavor.

6. You Can Find These Woods for Other Meats, Too

Traeger Grills Apple 100% All-Natural Wood Pellets for Smokers and Pellet Grills, BBQ, Bake, Roast, and Grill, 20 lb. Bag

You can use apple and cherry wood to smoke other meat besides turkey.

These woods are excellent for giving pork and beef a mild, sweet flavor that compliments their savory flavors.

7. Turkey Develops a Nice, Deep Color from Cherry Wood

When you use cherry wood for smoking turkey, one of the lovely effects is that it imparts a deep reddish-brown hue to the bird.

This gives it a restaurant-quality look that will make any dish you create stand out at any party or holiday potluck.

8. Apple Is Mellow Compared to Cherry or Pecan

Another standout feature of applewood, in particular, is that it’s more mellow compared to pecan, maple, and other types of wood – even cherry.

The subtlety of the apple can be nice if you genuinely love the taste of turkey and don’t want to overshadow its meaty flavor but still want to make the smoked bird ultra-delicious or even a bit festive.

9. Apple Ensures You Smoke Turkey Low and Slow

Barbecue Smoked Turkey Leg

Because apple wood is so subtle, people often make the mistake of firing up the bird at a higher temperature to try and get the flavor to seep in quicker and deeper.

However, this technique might actually have a negative effect and cause the turkey to either burn or dry out.

Since Turkey is already at risk of drying out fast compared to other meats, choosing apple wood means that you have to commit to a more delicate, precise, and time-sensitive approach. 

And due to this special attention, your turkey might come out better than ever! High risk, high reward!

10. Apple or Cherry Wood for Smoking Is More Unique

Using apple or cherry for smoked turkey is far more unique than using other woods like maple or hickory.

Of course, uniqueness doesn’t always equate to better, but when smoked low and slow, with a lot of attention to the details, you can create a standout, praiseworthy bird that your family and friends won’t forget.

Is cherry good for smoking turkey?

Yes! Smoking with cherry wood adds a subtle sweetness that complements the earthy flavors of the turkey, making for a truly memorable meal.

Is apple good for smoking turkey?

Absolutely! Apple wood produces a gentle, fruity smoke that gives turkey an extra hint of sweetness.

What do you put in the cavity of a smoked turkey?

When smoking turkey, you can add herbs and seasonings such as sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, or onions to the cavity. I also like to add butter, apple, and even cola for a unique flavor profile. And of course, you can’t forget the salt and pepper!

Is cherry good for smoking meat?

Cherrywood is excellent for smoking not only turkey but also other kinds of meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb. Its mild sweetness adds a subtle flavor profile to the meat that can enhance it.

Should I soak my wood chips before smoking turkey?

No, you shouldn’t smoke your wood chips before smoking turkey. You may think that this is a good option because it looks like smoke when you pour water onto a wooden fire.

But in actuality, wet wood does not smoke; it steams. When smoking meats, the smoke should be dry.

How long should I smoke a turkey?

The range of time in which you should smoke a turkey depends on various factors, such as how big the turkey is, what type of wood you’re using, and the temperature.

Generally, it is best to smoke a large, whole turkey at 225°F for 3.5-4 hours.

Another way of looking at it is to smoke it for one hour per pound of meat. Use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the bird.

However, always remember that the temperature of the smoker is more important than the time when it comes to smoked food, so also be sure to follow the guidelines outlined for your specific smoker.

More FAQs about Smoking with Apple or Cherry Wood

Should I smoke a turkey with cherry or apple?

You should smoke a turkey with apple, cherry, or hickory wood chips. These woods will provide a light flavor that won’t overpower the turkey, while still giving it a delicious BBQ smokiness.

How do you keep a turkey moist when smoking?

The method used to keep a turkey moist when smoking is wet brining. Wet brining involves placing the turkey in a stockpot filled with salted water and adding garlic, herbs, peppercorns, and other desired ingredients. The turkey is left in this brine for a few hours or even days. This technique is effective in maintaining the moisture of the turkey while it is being smoked.

Is cherry good for smoking chicken?

Cherry is a good wood for smoking chicken, along with apple, as they both come from fruit trees and provide excellent flavors. Additionally, maple wood can also be a great choice as it adds a sweeter taste that complements smoked chicken well.

Is apple good for smoking turkey?

Applewood, known for its sweet and mild smoke flavor, is an excellent choice for smoking turkeys. When using applewood, your turkey will acquire a delicate flavor that is sure to be enjoyed. Opting for this type of wood for smoking is a reliable decision.

Why put apples in a turkey?

Apples are put in a turkey to provide a mild flavor and additional moisture, resulting in a moist and delicious turkey. This method of preparation is ideal for Thanksgiving or any time of the year, as it enhances the overall taste of the turkey.

What to use to keep turkey moist in smoker?

To keep the turkey moist in the smoker, it is recommended to baste it. Basting helps to enhance the juiciness of the turkey, in addition to the natural moisture retained by the skin and foil. Since you will already be monitoring the turkey in the smoker periodically, taking the time to baste it will be worthwhile and ensure a flavorful outcome.

What not to do when smoking a turkey?

Avoid constantly opening the smoker to check on the turkey. If it is your first time smoking a turkey, the temptation to frequently lift the lid and inspect it every few minutes may arise. However, it is crucial to resist this urge and allow the turkey to cook undisturbed. Continuously opening the smoker will disrupt the cooking process and prevent the turkey from reaching its desired level of doneness.

Is cherry good for smokers?

Cherry wood is indeed good for smokers. It is an exceptional smoking wood that pairs well with a wide variety of meats. Whether you prefer cherry wood chunks or wood chips, you can confidently use this wood to smoke any type of meat you desire.

What is the best wood to smoke turkey breast?

A good wood for smoking turkey breast is hickory, but apple wood, oak, or maple can also be used. It is recommended to stuff the cavity and consider adding aromatics inside the turkey breast before smoking to enhance the holiday flavor.

Should turkey be covered in the smoker?

Turkey should be covered in the smoker to protect the skin from becoming too dark or burnt during smoking. Wrapping the turkey in foil can be particularly crucial if you desire to serve a turkey with crispy, golden-brown skin.

How long does cherry smoke last?

Cherry smoke lasts for a significant duration of nearly 8 hours, as evident from the noticeable scent that lingers and can be detected by those in close proximity. Therefore, it appears that Cherry Smoke effectively addresses the longevity concern associated with Lost Cherry.

What flavors go with smoked turkey?

The flavors that go well with smoked turkey include a grilled Parmesan cheese sandwich, tornado baked potatoes, chipotle and toasted walnut wheat-berry salad, green apple salad, cilantro lime rice, lemon and ginger spinach, and macaroni and cheese.

What’s the best smoke flavor for turkey?

The best smoke flavor for turkey is cherry and apple wood, which, like other fruit woods, impart the taste of their fruit into the meat. These fruit tree woods are particularly suitable for smoking lighter meats such as chicken or turkey due to their subtle flavors. Using them reduces the likelihood of overwhelming your meal with an excessive smoky taste.

Is apple wood for smoking turkey a good choice?

Apple wood is indeed good for turkey as it imparts a unique and delicate taste that enhances the flavor of the bird without being too overpowering. To prevent the turkey from becoming dry, it is recommended to baste it a few additional times or consider using a wet brine. For basting, one can experiment with apple juice or sauce as a flavorful option.

What is cherry wood good for smoking?

Cherry wood is good for smoking because it provides a sweet and slightly fruity smoke that blends nicely with oak wood. It delivers a mild to medium flavor, making it an excellent choice for smoking pork, lamb, beef, dark poultry such as duck, and other gamey meats.

Can you over smoke a turkey?

It is possible to over-smoke a turkey, so it is advisable to use a moderate amount of wood. Simply place the turkey on the smoker and set a timer for 1 ½ hours. If you consistently maintain the temperature, there is not much else to do except allow it to cook.

Why is smoked turkey so tough?

Smoked turkey can become tough due to the high-convection environment of a smoker, which draws out moisture from the turkey skin faster than it can crisp up. Consequently, the skin ends up being tough and leathery because the process requires water and if the skin dries out too quickly, it will never achieve a crispy texture.

Does smoked turkey taste better?

Smoked turkey offers a more flavorful taste due to the infusion of deep, subtle flavors from the smoking process. This slow cooking method transforms what can be a bland and dry turkey into a tender and juicy dish, with each bite offering interesting flavors.

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