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How to Make Smoked Turkey Burgers

Learn how to make the best smoked turkey burgers on ANY grill or smoker.

We mix our turkey burgers with sauteed onions and garlic along with herbs and spices to keep them flavorful and moist while they smoke.

Whether you are using a Traeger, Camp Chef, or Pit Boss pellet grill, an electric smoker like a Masterbuilt, or just a conventional propane grill like a Weber, we’ve got you covered!

a smoked turkey burger on a bun

One of the main problems with smoking turkey burgers instead of ground beef hamburgers is that because they are so lean, they tend to dry out quickly on a grill or smoker.

You can help fight this problem by not only buying ground turkey with higher fat content, but also by mixing in some simple sauteed onions and garlic into the ground turkey before forming your turkey burger patties for smoking.

Let’s jump in and look at how we make our juicy smoked turkey burgers!

 

Prepare the Turkey Burgers for Smoking

raw turkey burger patties

 

Buying Ground Turkey to Smoke Turkey Burgers

Whether you are grilling or smoking turkey burgers, you want to choose a ground turkey with the highest fat content you can find.

Much like we want high fat content for our pellet grill smoked hamburgers, the same applies for smoked turkey burgers.

The most common options we see in our local grocery store for ground turkey are 85/15 and 93/7 and are usually labeled “Lean” and “Extra Lean” respectively.

This refers to the ratio of lean meat to fat in the ground turkey, so the 85/15 is going to be 85% lean meat and 15% fat.

85/15 Ground Turkey is the one you want for smoking turkey burgers since it has the higher fat content. 

If you want less fat in your turkey burgers, you CAN choose the 93/7 option, just understand it’s going to be harder to keep them from drying out on the grill or smoker while they cook.

 

Preparing the Ground Turkey Burger Mixture

For smoked turkey burgers, since ground turkey does not have much taste on its own, you really want to add a lot favor to the ground turkey burger mixture before forming your burger patties.

You will need the following ingredients to make FOUR Smoked Turkey Burgers:

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided, regular not extra virgin)
  • 1/4 of a Red Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (minced)
  • 1 to 1.25 lbs Ground Turkey (preferably 85/15)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Rubbed Sage
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
  • Canola or Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.

sauteeing onions in a pan

Then add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly so that the garlic does not burn.

sauteing onions and garlic in a pan

Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the onion and garlic to a large mixing bowl and allow them to cool.

Once slightly cooled, add the salt, pepper, parsley, sage, thyme, and remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the bowl containing the onion and garlic and stir to mix completely.

mixing ingredients for smoked turkey burgers

Then add the ground turkey.  Mix well to blend.

raw ground turkey and spices in a bowl

Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form into patties.

Put the patties on a plate and cover in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before smoking.

raw turkey burger patties

This will help them keep their shape when handling later and first putting them on the grill or smoker.

 

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Best Wood Choices for Smoked Turkey Burgers

Poultry, like fish, absorbs smoke very quickly and a little goes a long way.

The best woods for smoking turkey burgers include the fruitwoods like apple, cherry, and peach, but also the milder smoking woods like pecan, oak and alder.

a bag of pit boss apple wood pellets

However, since we are not smoking our turkey burgers for an exceptionally long period of time, you can get away with a more aggressive smoke flavor if you wish.

Mesquite will give you a strong unique flavor and hickory, while still distinctive, will not be quite as strong.

If you want to keep it simple and straightforward, choose a lighter smoking wood like oak, apple, or peach.

For the best results, if you are using a pellet grill or pellet tube smoker, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the hopper outside.

Pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality, airtight container.

 

Best Times and Temperatures for Smoked Turkey Burgers

placing raw turkey burger patties in a smoker

 

What is the Best Temperature to Smoke Turkey Burgers?

We are going to set up the grill or smoker for medium level indirect cooking at 325°F.

Why 325°F?

We initially tried this recipe in 2 stages, smoking “Low and Slow” at 225°F at first with the intention of cranking up the heat to finish the turkey burgers after they had absorbed enough smokey flavor.

turkey burgers smoking in a smoker

Unfortunately we found that putting the soft turkey burgers on such a low temperature grill caused them to start to lose their shape and almost “melt” through the grill grates.

So we decided you need to start them at a higher temperature so that they firm up faster on the grill or smoker and maintain their shape.

At 325°F, they did just this, and still cooked slow enough to absorb some good smokey flavor along the way.

smoked turkey burgers smoking in a smoker

While you can technically cook at 325°F start to finish like this in your grill or smoker, we decided once they were part way through smoking to finish them with a high heat sear.

More on that below.

 

Target Internal Temperature for Smoked Turkey Burgers

Whenever you are cooking with poultry, you HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to make sure you are keeping everyone safe from salmonella.

Always cook to temperature, not time.

We are particular fans of using this instant read thermometer from ThermoPro because of its durability and affordable price.

We are targeting a final internal temperature of 165°F on the smoked turkey burgers to know that they are safe to eat and finished cooking. 

 

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Turkey Burgers?

At 325°F, the smoked turkey burgers will take about 30 minutes to reach 130°F internal temperature.

checking the temperature of smoked turkey burgers at 132 degrees

This is NOT when they are done!

You certainly CAN leave them on the grill or smoker for another 20-30 minutes beyond until they finish smoking and reach a safe 165°F internal temperature.

However, this is the point where we liked to move them over from MEDIUM INDIRECT HEAT to HIGH DIRECT HEAT to get seared to finish. 

checking the temperature of finished smoked turkey burgers at 165 degrees

You get the best of both worlds by adding some smokey flavor in the beginning, but we like the way the smoked turkey burgers taste (and look) after getting seared at the end

You can do this over a hot gas burner, some hot charcoal, in a hot cast iron pan, or if using a pellet grill, a set of Grill Grates which we will discuss below.

 

Setting up your Grill or Smoker for Smoked Turkey Burgers

hot grill grates next to smoked turkey burgers

Ok, we have our turkey burger patties seasoned and formed and chilling the refrigerator.

Now it’s time to get down to the business of setting up the grill or smoker to cook these smoked turkey burgers.

(Feel free to jump to the section with the kind of grill or smoker you own, or skip ahead to the recipe card at the bottom of the article if you are already comfortable setting up your grill or smoker.)

 

Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker

Char-Broil 12201570-A1 American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Black,Standard
The entry level Char-Broil Offset Barrel Smoker.
Read Char-Broil Reviews on Amazon

Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with about a chimneys worth of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.

If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, fill the water pan as well to help stabilize the temperature and add moisture to the cooking chamber.

Light a charcoal chimney about 1/3 way with charcoal and wait about 15 minutes for it to fully ignite.

Fill your water pan first, then add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.

Keep the dampers about 1/2 way to 3/4 open until the cooking chamber temperature reaches about 300°F.  Then slowly close them down until they are just barely open and you are maintaining a temperature of 325° F.

Make sure to clean and oil the grates so that the turkey burgers do not stick.  Also spray some canola or olive oil on both sides of the turkey burgers themselves.

spraying canola oil on raw turkey burgers befre smoking

Place 1 chunk of your chosen smoking wood on top of your lit charcoal once the smoker is up to temperature, and put your turkey burgers on once the smoker it is actively producing smoke.

After about 15-20 minutes, flip the smoked turkey burger patties using a good long handled spatula.

Once the internal temperature reaches 130°F you can sear them (see below), or leave them on the smoker to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, flipping every 15 minutes or so.

Want to see a list of our FAVORITE Vertical Smokers for 2021?  Check it out here!

 

Propane or Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker with Broiler, 30 inch, Black
The Classic Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
See Masterbuilt Reviews on Amazon

Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.

Debating whether to buy a propane or electric smoker?  Check out our COMPLETE Comparison Guide HERE.

 

For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it to keep the temperature constant at 325° F.

Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.

 

For Electric: Plug your electric smoker in, open the vents, and turn the temperature to 325° F.

While it comes up to temperature, add smoking wood chips, not pellets, to the smoking wood tray.

Fill the water tray if there is one.

Make sure to clean and oil the grates so that the turkey burgers do not stick.  Also spray some canola or olive oil on both sides of the turkey burgers themselves.

Once the propane or electric smoker is up to temperature, and put your turkey burgers on the grates.

After about 15-20 minutes, flip the smoked turkey burger patties using a good long handled spatula.

Once the internal temperature reaches 130°F you can sear them (see below), or leave them in the smoker to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, flipping every 15 minutes or so.

You will likely not need to refill the wood chips since the smoked turkey burgers will be ready to sear after about 30-40 minutes.

Refilling wood chips is one of the major drawbacks, besides tray size, of electric smokers compared to pellet grills like Traegers and Pit Bosses.

However, we recently found a great solution.

If you are tired of having to reload fresh wood chips into your electric smoker, especially on longer cooks like pork butt and brisket, then check out this Masterbuilt Automatic Slow Smoker Attachment.

It basically burns new fresh wood chips at a constant rate, much like how a pellet grill works, freeing you up to do other things while getting your food nice and smokey!

 

Pellet Grill

a pit boss pellet grill making smoke

Pellet grills like the ones from Traeger and Pit Boss are great for smoking turkey burgers.

Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.

Plug in the pellet grill, turn it on and let it run through its start up process.

Then turn the temperature to 325°F.

When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, oil the grates so that the turkey burgers do not stick.  Also spray some canola or olive oil on both sides of the turkey burgers themselves.

Put your turkey burgers directly on the pellet grill grates.  Close the lid and monitor the internal temperature occasionally as the turkey burgers smoke.

After about 15-20 minutes, flip the smoked turkey burger patties using a good long handled spatula.

Once the internal temperature reaches 130°F you can sear them over a direct flame if your pellet grill has that option.

Or, you can use some of Grill Grates (see below), or leave them where they are in the pellet grill to smoke for another 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, flipping every 15 minutes or so.

searing a smoked turkey burger

Never used a pellet grill like a Traeger or a Pit Boss before? 

Read our ultimate guide to pellet grills to learn why they are so easy to use and how to set one up for success every time.

Here is also a list of our Favorite Pellet Grills for 2022 priced under $500!

 

Gas or Charcoal Grill

Weber 45010001 Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Liquid Propane Grill, Black

Check out the Weber Spirit on Amazon

On a gas or charcoal grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.

Click HERE to learn the all differences between smoker boxes and a smoker tubes.

And if you need a full lesson on how to smoke on a gas grill the RIGHT way, check out our Ultimate Guide to Smoking on a Gas Grill HERE.

Lastly, see a selection of our favorite pellet tube smokers HERE.

In the case of smoked turkey burgers, we would opt for just using the smoker box filled with wood chips since we will only be cooking the burgers for about 30-40 minutes before searing.

Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with the burners or a small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your turkey burgers to be on the other side.

 

Gas Grill

For a 325°F cooking temperature, light just one or maybe 2 burners on one side if using a gas grill.

Once the grill is up to temperature, place the closed smoker box full of DRY wood chips over the lit burners and close the lid.

a smoker box

Wait about 10 minutes for the smoker box to start producing smoke.

Oil the grates so that the turkey burgers do not stick.  Also spray some canola or olive oil on both sides of the turkey burgers themselves.

Put your turkey burgers directly on the gas grill grates on the FAR side of the lit burners.  Close the lid and monitor the internal temperature occasionally as the turkey burgers smoke.

After about 15-20 minutes, flip the smoked turkey burger patties using a good long handled spatula.

Once the internal temperature reaches 130°F you remove the smoker box from the grill, turn up the lit burners to HIGH, and sear the smoked turkey burgers over this DIRECT heat to finish them.

 

Charcoal Grill

If using a charcoal grill, put about half a chimney’s worth of unlit charcoal in the base, pushed to one side.

Then light about 1/3 chimney’s worth of charcoal and pour it in a small pile on top of the unlit coals.

Put the lid on the grill.

Open the vents about halfway and then close them down to a 1/4 open once the grill is up to 300°F and place your smoking wood chunk on top of the lit coals.

putting grate on charcoal grill set up for indirect smoking

Once the grill is making smoke and the  temperature is near 325°F, oil the grates so that the turkey burgers do not stick.  Also spray some canola or olive oil on both sides of the turkey burgers themselves.

Put your turkey burgers directly on the charcoal grates on the FAR side away from the lit charcoal.  Close the lid and monitor the internal temperature occasionally as the turkey burgers smoke.

After about 15-20 minutes, flip the smoked turkey burger patties using a good long handled spatula.

Once the internal temperature reaches 130°F, stoke the lit charcoals and keep the lid off to allow them to get really hot.

Then move and sear the smoked turkey burgers over this DIRECT heat of the lit coals to finish them.

 

Searing the Smoked Turkey Burgers to Finish

searing smoked turkey burgers

In order to get a nice crispy crust on the smoked turkey burgers that you sometimes just can’t get from indirect heat and smoking alone, we recommend searing them at the end.

Once the internal temperature of the smoked turkey burgers reaches about 130°F, you are going to move them with a good long handled spatula to the hot part of the grill, some Grill Grates on a pellet grill, or even just a hot cast iron skillet you can have heating up indoors.

You will need to keep the lid to any grill you are using OPEN, and keep flipping the smoked turkey burgers to get each side seared evenly without burning them.

Now, there are several ways to do this depending on what type of grill or smoker you are using.

 

Gas or Charcoal Grills

These are the easiest grills to sear the a smoked turkey burgers on.

When the turkey burgers are up to 130°F internally, simply move them over to the hot side of the grill over the charcoal or the hot burners and crank the heat.

Flip the smoked turkey burgers every minute or so until they are finished cooking and have reached 165°F internally.

 

Electric and Propane Smokers

If you are stuck with a vertical electric or propane smoker that only goes up to say, 325°F, you may want to heat up a gas grill burner, a cast iron skillet, or even a flat top grill.

Anything to get a nice searing hot surface to move your smoked turkey burgers to when they are ready.

 

Pellet Grills

The hands down BEST way to sear meat on a pellet grill, especially an older model that may not have a built in searing feature like the newest Pit Boss Pro Series and Traeger Ironwood Series, is to use a Grill Grate.

a grill grate in a pit boss pellet grill

These handy aftermarket pellet grill accessories use the ambient heat of a pellet grill to create a searing hot surface on which to finish your meat hot and fast.

We love them for finishing smoked pork chops, steaks, and hamburgers on a pellet grill such as a Traeger or Camp Chef.

Put the Grill Grate in the pellet grill when you first are heating it up so that it has time to get hot while the turkey burgers smoke.

Then, when you are ready to sear, you can turn up the heat on your pellet grill to high or place the Grill Grate searing station over the direct heat flame broiler if your pellet grill has that option to get it ripping hot.

Make sure to measure and choose the right size for your specific pellet grill.

We also like to use this affordable infrared thermometer in conjunction with our Grill Grate searing station to know exactly how hot our grill grate or cast iron pan before we put the meat on.

checking the temperature of a grill grate with an infrared thermometer

For a sizzling crispy brown crust, you want to see the temperature get up over 500°F before putting the meat on.

 

Serving the Smoked Turkey Burgers

smoked turkey burgers on a cutting board

Once the smoked turkey burgers are finished cooking on the grill or smoker, carefully remove them with a good long handled spatula and place them on a plate to cool.

Brioche buns are a great option for restaurant quality burgers at home and make sure to gather all the sides such as ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, and mayonnaise.

a smoked turkey burger on a bun

You can also offer up smoked bratwurst, beef hamburgers for guests that prefer a traditional option, and some hot dogs for the kids.

Lastly, when you’re looking for fun side dish options, did you know you can also make smoked potato salad, smoked corn on the cob, and smoked baked beans right on your grill or smoker as well?

And fir dessert, how a about a smoked peach cobbler or smoked chocolate chip cookies!

Go ahead and click each one to check them out.

Enjoy!

 

smoked turkey burgers pinterest PIN madbackyard.com

 

What Else Can I Smoke?

a pit boss pro series 1150 pellet grill

Looking for some more smoky inspiration?

You’ve come to right place!

You’ve come to right place!

Pork

 

Beef

 

Seafood

 

Poultry

 

Lamb

 

Sides and Desserts

smoked turkey burgers on a cutting board

Smoked Turkey Burgers

Learn how to make the best smoked turkey burgers on ANY grill or smoker.
We mix our turkey burgers with sauteed onions and garlic along with herbs and spices to keep them flavorful and moist while they smoke.
Whether you are using a Traeger, Camp Chef, or Pit Boss pellet grill, an electric smoker like a Masterbuilt, or just a conventional propane grill like a Weber, we’ve got you covered!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American, Australian, barbecue, BBQ, Smoked
Servings 4 Burgers
Calories 500 kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker, Grill or Pellet Grill
  • Wood for smoking (chunks, chips, or pellets).
  • Skillet
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Large Spoon
  • Plates
  • Clear Plastic Wrap
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Long Handled BBQ Spatula
  • Set of Grill Grates or a Large Cast Iron Pan optional for searing

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil divided, regular not extra virgin
  • ¼ of a Red Onion finely chopped
  • 1 Clove of Garlic minced
  • 1-1.25 lbs Ground Turkey preferably 85/15
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley chopped
  • ½ tsp Dried Rubbed Sage
  • ¼ tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
  • Canola or Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Instructions
 

Preparing the Ground Turkey Burger Mixture

  • Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
    2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.
    ¼ of a Red Onion
    sauteeing onions in a pan
  • Then add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly so that the garlic does not burn.
    1 Clove of Garlic
    sauteing onions and garlic in a pan
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the onion and garlic to a large mixing bowl and allow them to cool.
  • Once slightly cooled, add the salt, pepper, parsley, sage, thyme, and remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the bowl containing the onion and garlic and stir to mix completely.
    ½ tsp Kosher Salt, ½ tsp Black Pepper, 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, ½ tsp Dried Rubbed Sage, ¼ tsp Dried Thyme Leaves, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    mixing ingredients for smoked turkey burgers
  • Then add the ground turkey.  Mix well to blend.
    1-1.25 lbs Ground Turkey
    raw ground turkey and spices in a bowl
  • Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form into patties.
  • Put the patties on a plate covered in plastic wrap so they don't stick and then and cover the tops in plastic wrap too. Put in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before smoking.
    raw turkey burger patties

Setup and Start the Grill or Smoker

  • Start or light your smoker and bring the temperature up to 325°F. If using a gas or charcoal grill, only light one side and set the grill up for indirect heat.
  • If not using a pellet grill, add wood to the smoker using either chunks or a smoker box or pellet tube smoker placed over the hot charcoal or burners on a gas grill.

Smoke the Turkey Burgers

  • Clean and oil the grates well. Also spray some canola or olive oil on each side of each turkey burger before placing in the grill or smoker.
    Canola or Olive Oil Cooking Spray
    spraying canola oil on raw turkey burgers befre smoking
  • Place the cold and oiled turkey burgers in the cooking chamber away from any direct heat and close the lid or door.
    placing raw turkey burger patties in a smoker
  • Flip after about 15 minutes and close the lid or door again. Smoke for about 30-40 minutes total until the internal temperature reaches about 130°F.
    checking the temperature of smoked turkey burgers at 132 degrees
  • Preheat a set of Grill Grates or a large Cast Iron Skillet over High heat while the turkey burgers are smoking.
    hot grill grates next to smoked turkey burgers

Sear the Smoked Turkey Burgers

  • Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to the Grill Grates or cast iron skillet a few minutes before searing the turkey burgers.
  • Once the internal temperature of the smoked turkey burgers reaches 130°F, move them over the gas burners, over the hot charcoal, over the hot Grill Grates or to the Cast iron skillet for searing. Flip every minute and continue cooking until the internal temperature of each turkey burgers is 165°F.
    searing smoked turkey burgers
  • Remove the turkey burgers and place on a plate or cutting board to cool slightly.
    smoked turkey burgers on a cutting board

Serve the Smoked Turkey Burgers

  • Serve immediately on large brioche buns with plenty of condiments for guests to add.
    a smoked turkey burger on a bun

Nutrition

Calories: 500kcal
Keyword barbecue, bbq, Charcoal, electric smoker, Grilling, Masterbuilt, pellet grill, pellet grill turkey burgers, Pit Boss, pit boss smoked turkey burgers, pit boss turkey burgers, propane smoker, smoked turkey burgers, traeger smoked turkey burgers, traeger turkey burgers, turkey burger in electric smoker, turkey burgers in a smoker
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