Smoked Turkey Air Fryer Recipe: The Ultimate Culinary Delight

smoked turkey air fryer recipe

When it comes to roast turkey, nothing beats the succulent and flavorful experience of a smoked turkey. And now, with the advent of air fryers, you can achieve that perfect smoky goodness right in your own kitchen. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the world of smoked turkey in an air fryer, exploring the food science, culinary details, selection, cleaning, preparation, tips, variations, doneness checks, and providing you with a mouthwatering recipe that is sure to impress your family and friends.

The Science Behind Smoked Turkey

The process of smoking turkey infuses it with a delectable smoky flavor and results in a tender and moist meat. The smoke comes from burning wood chips, which contain aromatic compounds that permeate the turkey’s surface and enhance its taste. Additionally, the low and slow cooking method used in smoking gradually breaks down the turkey’s collagen, resulting in a more tender texture.

Selecting the Perfect Turkey

When choosing a turkey for smoking, consider its size and the number of people you will be serving. Plan for about one pound of turkey per person, factoring in leftovers if desired. A fresh or thawed turkey is recommended for smoking, as it yields better results in terms of tenderness and flavor.

Cleaning and Preparing Your Air Fryer

smoked turkey

Before embarking on your smoked turkey air fryer journey, ensure that your air fryer is clean and free from any residual smells or grease. Refer to your air fryer’s user manual for cleaning instructions, as each model may differ. Proper cleaning and maintenance ensure optimal cooking results and prevent any unwanted flavors in your smoked turkey.

Preparing the Turkey

  1. Thawing: If using a frozen turkey, ensure it is completely thawed before smoking. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper thawing guidelines.
  2. Brining: Brining the turkey is an optional but highly recommended step as it enhances the flavor and moisture content of the meat. Submerge the turkey in a brine solution overnight, ensuring it’s fully covered and refrigerated.
  3. Seasoning: Once the turkey is brined, remove it from the brine solution and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the turkey with a dry rub or your preferred seasonings. Apply the rub generously on the turkey’s surface, including inside the cavity and under the skin if desired. Let the seasoned turkey sit for at least an hour to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  4. Preheating: Preheat your air fryer to the desired temperature. Depending on your air fryer model and the size of your turkey, the temperature may vary. It is recommended to preheat the air fryer to a higher temperature (around 400°F/200°C) for the initial searing and then lower it to around 275°F/135°C for the smoking process.
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Tips for Achieving Smoky Perfection

  • Use wood chips specifically designed for smoking. Popular choices include apple, hickory, mesquite, or cherry wood chips. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the air fryer. This helps ensure a slow and steady release of smoke.
  • Consider adding aromatics and herbs to the smoking process for additional flavor. Garlic, onions, rosemary, and thyme make excellent companions to the smoky goodness of the turkey.
  • Basting the turkey periodically with a mixture of melted butter and herbs or broth will help keep the meat moist and impart extra flavor.
  • Monitoring the internal temperature is crucial in achieving the desired doneness. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the turkey without touching the bone. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 165°F/74°C for turkey.
  • Resting the turkey after smoking for about 20-30 minutes allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful end product.

Recipe: Smoked Turkey Delight

close up view of air fried smoked turkey


  • 1 fresh or thawed turkey (12-14 pounds)
  • Brine solution (optional)
  • Dry rub or seasonings of your choice
  • Wood chips for smoking
  • Aromatics such as garlic, onions, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
  • Melted butter or broth for basting


  1. Thaw your turkey if necessary and brine it overnight if desired. Ensure it is completely dry before proceeding.
  2. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F/200°C.
  3. Prepare the wood chips by soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Season your turkey generously with the dry rub or your favorite seasonings, ensuring to cover all the surfaces.
  5. If desired, stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics such as garlic, onions, rosemary, or thyme.
  6. Place the soaked wood chips in the air fryer’s designated wood chip tray or wrap them in aluminum foil, poking holes to allow the smoke to escape.
  7. Carefully place the seasoned turkey on the air fryer’s cooking rack or in its designated rotisserie attachment.
  8. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey, without touching the bone.
  9. Set the air fryer temperature to 400°F/200°C for the initial searing. Sear the turkey for about 20 minutes.
  10. Reduce the temperature to 275°F/135°C to start the smoking process.
  11. Add the optional basting mixture by periodically brushing melted butter or broth over the turkey’s surface.
  12. Smoke the turkey for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C.
  13. Once the turkey reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the air fryer and tent it loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
  14. Finally, carve and enjoy the delectable smoky flavors of your homemade smoked turkey masterpiece.
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Variations and Additions

The beauty of cooking is the creative possibilities it offers. Here are a few variations and additions you can experiment with:

  1. Fruit-Infused Smoking: Place sliced oranges, apples, or pineapples on the air fryer’s cooking rack alongside the turkey. The fruit’s natural sugars enhance the flavor and provide a subtle sweetness.
  2. Jalapeño Kick: For those who crave a little heat, add sliced jalapeños to the wood chips. The resulting smoky and spicy combination adds a pleasant kick to the turkey.
  3. Bacon-Wrapped Delight: Wrap the turkey with strips of bacon before placing it in the air fryer. The bacon not only adds a layer of flavor but also helps keep the turkey moist during the smoking process.

Doneness Check: Monitoring the Internal Temperature

In order to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection, it is essential to monitor its internal temperature. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey, without touching the bone. The turkey is considered safe to consume when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F/74°C according to the USDA guidelines. Remember to measure the temperature in multiple locations to ensure accuracy.

Cleaning Your Air Fryer After Smoking

Cleaning your air fryer after smoking your turkey is essential to maintain its functionality and prevent cross-contamination. Here are some general cleaning steps:

  1. Allow the air fryer to cool completely before cleaning.
  2. Remove any leftover wood chips and debris from the cooking chamber.
  3. Wash the cooking rack and any other accessories in warm, soapy water. Use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth to avoid damaging the non-stick surface.
  4. Wipe the interior and exterior of the air fryer with a damp cloth to remove any grease or residue.
  5. Dry all parts thoroughly before reassembling the air fryer.

Ensure you consult your air fryer’s user manual for specific cleaning instructions tailored to your model.

Enjoy the Result of Your Culinary Endeavor

Congratulations! By following this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped with the knowledge to master the art of smoking turkey in an air fryer. Let the enticing aromas fill your kitchen as you impress your loved ones with a succulent, smoky delight. Remember, cooking is all about experimentation and making the recipe your own. Enjoy this culinary adventure, and may every meal you create be an experience worth savoring.

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  • FAQS On Smoked Turkey Air Fryer Recipe

    What Is An Air Fryer And How Does It Work?

    An air fryer is a small, compact kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around it. It uses a high-powered fan and heating element to create a crispy outer layer while locking in moisture on the inside.

    Can I Cook A Whole Turkey In An Air Fryer?

    No, due to the size limitations of most air fryers, it is not recommended to cook a whole turkey in an air fryer. However, you can cook a smaller turkey breast or turkey thighs in an air fryer.

    Do I Need To Thaw My Turkey Before Cooking It In An Air Fryer?

    Yes, it is recommended that you thaw your turkey before cooking it in an air fryer. This will ensure that it cooks evenly and thoroughly.

    What Spices And Seasonings Go Well With A Smoked Turkey Air Fryer Recipe?

    Some popular seasonings for smoked turkey include garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. You can also add a little bit of honey or maple syrup to give it a sweet and savory taste.

    How Long Should I Cook A Smoked Turkey In An Air Fryer?

    Cook time will depend on the size of your turkey. As a general rule of thumb, cook your smoked turkey at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What Type Of Wood Chips Should I Use For Smoking A Turkey In An Air Fryer?

    You can use any type of wood chips for smoking a turkey in an air fryer, but hickory, apple, mesquite, and cherry are commonly used. Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes before adding them to your air fryer to prevent them from burning.

    Can I Use My Air Fryer To Reheat Leftover Smoked Turkey?

    Yes, an air fryer is a great option for reheating leftover smoked turkey. Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 3-4 minutes or until heated through.