Learn how to make smoked turkey tenderloins on ANY grill or smoker, whether its a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill, a Masterbuilt propane smoker, or just a simple Weber kettle!
Smoked turkey tenderloins are just about the easiest way to make some smoked turkey that everyone will enjoy!
(Yes, you need to smoke some caveman-style turkey wings if you’ve never made them before!)
But the hands down EASIEST and FASTEST way to make a simple smoked turkey meal is with some smoked turkey tenderloins!
What are Turkey Tenderloins you ask?
What they really are is the best part of the turkey breast meat.
So if you know how to cook chicken breasts, you can make these super simple smoked turkey tenderloins just as easily.
Buying Turkey Tenderloins to Smoke
A typical package of turkey tenderloins will be 1.5 lbs in total weight and contain two large turkey tenderloins.
A good rule of thumb is to serve a 1/2 pound of meat per person, so one package of two tenderloins will serve about three people, or two if they are very hungry.
Make sure to consider how many side dishes you are serving as well.
If you have leftovers, smoked turkey tenderloin works great on a smoked turkey sandwich the next day or even in some homemade smoked turkey soup!
Our Favorite Seasonings for Smoked Turkey Tenderloin
We are going to smoke the turkey tenderloins with medium INDIRECT heat.
So no need to worry about burning the sugar in your chosen rub like we have to think about when crisping up the skin on chicken wings with high DIRECT heat for example.
Thats said, think about what flavor profile you are going for with your smoked turkey tenderloins.
Do you want classic thanksgiving flavors to accompany some mashed potatoes and gravy?
We typically like ours barbecue style when making smoked turkey tenderloins and especially like one of our favorite BBQ seasonings, Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship BBQ Rub when making chicken or turkey in the smoker.
It’s got a little sweetness and a good hit of garlic, onion, and some heat to really perk up the otherwise bland turkey meat.
If you want to make your own Turkey Rub we’ve got a simple recipe for that down below as well!
Since turkey tenderloins have no skin, make sure to spray or brush little cooking oil such as olive oil on before applying the rub.
This will not only help the rub stick better but keep the meat from drying out as easily in the smoker.
The Best Woods for Smoking Turkey Tenderloins
For turkey we generally go for a milder smoke flavor by choosing oak or fruitwood pellets.
Pecan, apple, beech and cherry all give great results.
On our pellet grill we used these apple pellets and got a nice mild smoke flavor on our smoked turkey tenderloins.
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
Because turkey tenderloins have no skin to worry about crisping up like with turkey legs or turkey wings, we can smoke them at a little lower temperature and keep them nice and moist while giving them time to absorb a lot of good smoky flavor.
But because turkey tenderloins are also about 99% lean, we can’t smoke them TOO low or we risk drying them out before they ever finish cooking.
So that’s why we decided to split the difference between 225°F where we sometime cook pork butt and beef brisket, and 325°F where we like to smoke “skin-on” turkey, and smoked our tukey tenderloin at about 275°F.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Turkey Tenderloins?
Our smoked turkey tenderloins took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to fully cook at about 275°F on our pellet grill.
Make sure check with an instant read thermometer to see if certain tenderloins are cooking faster than others and may need to be rotated around depending on how even the heating is of your grill or smoker.
We made sure to flip the smoked tenderloins after about 40 minutes too because the heat coming from the bottom of the Pit Boss pellet grill was cooking the underside of our turkey tenderloins faster than the tops.
Target Internal Temperature for Smoked Turkey Tenderloin
You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your smoked turkey tenderloins.
If you don’t yet own an instant read thermometer, ThermoPro makes a good one.
Bring the internal temperature of your smoked turkey tenderloins up to at least 165°F.
Setting up your Grill or Smoker for Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
You’ll need to set up your grill or smoker a little different depending on whether you are using a gas grill, an electric smoker, or a pellet grill like a Traeger or Pit Boss.
Here are the best instructions for setting up different types of grills and smokers to make delicious smoked turkey tenderloins so go ahead and skip down to the type you are using!
Smoked Turkey Tenderloin in a Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with about a chimney’s 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, go ahead and fill it too.
Light a charcoal chimney with just a couple handful of briquets and wait about 15 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Oil the racks of the smoker with a paper towel to keep the turkey tenderloins from sticking later.
Once lit, add the briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the dampers about 1/2 way to 3/4 open until the temperature is in the 250°F range.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature, put the seasoned turkey tenderloins on the oiled racks.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to about 1/3-1/4 open until you are maintaining a temperature of about 275°F.
You will likely need to rotate and flip through out the cook for even heating to the smoked turkey tenderloins.
Continue cooking the smoked turkey tenderloins as described above until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F, usually after about 1 hour and 20 minutes depending on their size.
Smoked Turkey Tenderloin in Propane and Electric Smokers
Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.
For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it to keep the temperature constant at 275° F.
Oil up the racks with a paper towel to keep the turkey tenderloins from sticking.
Add wood chips to your smoking wood tray and once the smoker is up to temperature, put the seasoned turkey tenderloins in.
Adjust the propane valve to continue maintaining a temperature of about 275°F.
Rotate and flip as needed throughout the cook, it will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes in total.
When the internal temperature of the smoked turkey tenderloins is 165°F, remove them from the smoker.
Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.
Oil the grates of the electric smoker with a paper towel.
Place your seasoned turkey tenderloins in the electric smoker and close the door.
You will need to refill the wood chips every 30 minutes or so as they smolder out in the chip loader.
We would recommend using no more than 2 loads of wood chips in total, otherwise you may end up oversmoking the turkey tenderloins.
Smoke the turkey tenderloins until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
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 smoky!
Smoked Turkey Tenderloins on a Pellet Grill
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Plug in the pellet grill, let it run through its start up process, and then turn the temperature to 270°F.
(Many pellet grill brands only allow you to make adjustments in increments of 10°F in this range. This is fine, it will not change the cooking time noticeably.)
Make sure you have the flame broiler CLOSED so that the pellet grill is set up for INDIRECT cooking.
You want the flame broiler CLOSED for INDIRECT heat.
Go ahead and oil the grates so the smoked turkey tenderloins do not stick later.
When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your seasoned turkey tenderloins in the cooking chamber and close the lid.
Rotate and flip the smoked turkey tenderloins as needed for even cooking minutes every 30 minutes or so as described above for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
Never used a pellet grill before? Read our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.
Smoked Turkey Tenderloins on a Gas Grill
On a gas grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?
Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas grill.
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
Or check out this handy comparison between smoker boxes and pellet tube smokers if you can’t decide which is right for you.
In the case of smoked turkey tenderloins, we would opt for the pellet smoker tube since we need longer than the 30 minutes one batch of wood chips in a smoker box will last us.
This will save you the hassle of having to refill the smoker box multiple times while smoking the turkey.
Light up the end of your pellet smoker tube filled with pellets with a good butane torch (you can’t use a regular lighter for pellets) and place it in the grill as well to add smoky flavor while the turkey tenderloins cook.
Let the pellets ignite for about 5 minutes then blow out the flame and lay the pellet tube smoker down on the grates next to the turkey tenderloins and close the lid.
Set up your gas grill for INDIRECT cooking with a single burner lit on one side and plan for your turkey tenderloins to be on the other side.
Light just one or two burners so the temperature stays low in 275°F range.
Remember, we are smoking the turkey tenderloins INDIRECTLY, like an oven, not DIRECTLY over the lit burners.
Once the temperature is of the gas grill up to 275°F, smoke your turkey tenderloins as described above for about one hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
Make sure to flip and rotate as necessary for even cooking.
Smoked Turkey Tenderloins on a Charcoal Grill
Set up your charcoal grill for indirect cooking with a large mound of unlit briquets on one side and plan for your smoked turkey tenderloins to be on the other side.
Make a small depression in the mound of unlit briquets where you will dump the lit ones along with the smoking wood.
Remember, we are smoking the turkey tenderloins INDIRECTLY, like an oven, not DIRECTLY over the coals.
Light a charcoal chimney with just a couple handfuls of briquets and wait about 15 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Once lit, add the briquets to the center depression you created, replace the grill grates and oil them up with a paper towel..
Keep the dampers about 1/2 way to 3/4 open until the temperature is in the 250°F range.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood once the grill is up to temperature, put the turkey tenderloins on the grill grates opposite of the charcoal.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to about 1/3-1/4 open until you are maintaining a temperature of 275°F.
Rotate and flip the smoked turkey tenderloins as necessary with tongs for even cooking.
After about an hour and 20 minutes, or when the internal temperature of the smoked turkey tenderloins has reached 165°F, go ahead and carefully remove them from the grill.
Serving Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
Let the smoked turkey tenderloins rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes before slicing them.
Using a good meat slicing knife, like our go-to favorite from Mairico, cut the turkey tenderloin right before serving into about 1 inch thick slices.
The thinner you slice the more surface area is exposed to air and the faster the smoked turkey tenderloins will dry out.
You have a lot of great options when it comes to serving smoked turkey tenderloins!
The leftovers also work great on a smoked turkey sandwich or in a batch of smoked turkey soup!
What Other Foods Can I Smoke?
Looking for some more inspiration for things to smoke?
You’ve come to right place!
Check out some of our favorite Turkey and Side Dish recipes below that can easily be modified to be done on any grill or smoker.
- Pit Boss Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast
- Traeger Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast
- Smoked Turkey in a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
- Smoked Turkey Burgers
- Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- Pellet Grill Whole Turkey
- Easy Smoked Turkey Legs
- Spatchcocked Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- Smoked Turkey Wings
- Smoked Turkey Thighs
- Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!
Sides and Desserts
- Pit Boss Corn on the Cob
- Pit Boss Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Pit Boss Smoked Baked Beans
- Traeger Smoked Baked Beans
- Traeger Smoked Corn on the Cob
- Traeger Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Smoked Potato Salad
- Smoked Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Twice Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Asparagus
- Easy Smoked Broccoli
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Smoked Green Beans
- Sticky Smoked Sweet Potatoes
- Smoked Pineapple in a Maple Bourbon Sauce
- Smoked Carrots with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Brussel Sprouts
- Smoked Cabbage
- Smoked Peaches
- Smoked Peach Cobbler
- Smoked Chocolate Chips
- Smoked Chocolate Chip Cookies
Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
- Gas Grill, Pellet Grill, or Smoker
- Wood pellets, chunks, or a pellet tube smoker with pellets or a smoker box with wood chips preferably a fruitwood like apple
- Paper Towels
- Cutting Board
- Small Mixing Bowl
- Instant Read and/or Leave in Probe Thermometer
- Grilling Tongs
- Heat Resistant Grilling Gloves
- Slicing Knife
- 3 lbs Raw Turkey Tenderloins (4) ¾ lb tenderloins, usually there are 2 to a package.
- Olive Oil
- A Favorite BBQ rub like Three Little Pigs Kansas City Rub -OR - our BBQ Turkey Rub Below. sugar free so that the rub will not burn
BBQ Turkey Rub
- 1 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
- ½ Tbsp Kosher Salt use more or less to taste
- ¼ tsp Onion Powder
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper
- ⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper optional for heat
- Light or turn on your smoker, grill or pellet grill and set up the temperature to 275°F. If using a grill, only light a small amount of charcoal or light one or two burners on one side for indirect cooking
Season the Turkey Tenderloins
- Remove the turkey tenderloins form their packaging and rinse with cold running water.3 lbs Raw Turkey Tenderloins
- Place them on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels.
- Gather your favorite BBQ rub or chicken and turkey or mix together the ingredients to the BBQ Turkey Rub above in a small mixing bowl.A Favorite BBQ rub like Three Little Pigs Kansas City Rub -OR - our BBQ Turkey Rub Below., 1 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar, 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, ½ Tbsp Kosher Salt, ¼ tsp Onion Powder, ¼ tsp Garlic Powder, ¼ tsp Black Pepper, ⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper, 1 Tbsp Paprika
- Brush or spray on a thin layer of regular olive oil on each side to help the rub stick.Olive Oil
- Sprinkle the BBQ rub all over the turkey tenderloins on each side.
Finish Setting up your Grill or Smoker
- Add your wood chunks directly to the firebox of a smoker, or use chips in a smoker box, or pellets in a tube smoker or pellet grill.
- Oil the grates well with some more olive oil using a paper towel
- Once smoke is being produced and the grill or smoker is at 275°F, put your turkey tenderloins on the indirect side and close the lid.
Smoking the Turkey Tenderloins
- Rotate and flip the turkey tenderloins as needed, maybe every 30 minutes, for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the tenderloins has reached 165°F.
- Remove the smoked turkey tenderloins from the smoker and place on a cutting board to cool.
Slicing and Serving the Smoked Turkey Tenderloins
- Let the smoked turkey tenderloins rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Slice the tenderloins one at a time into 1 inch thick slices and serve immediately while hot.