Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub

If you own a Pit Boss and haven’t tried a Pit Boss smoked turkey, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! This delicious turkey with an easy maple BBQ rub is so juicy, incredibly flavorful turkey with a perfectly browned and crispy skin, and it can be smoked to perfection in less than 3 hours. Smoked turkey recipes are a great twist on a holiday favorite or a nice alternative to chicken in the summer months! 


The Perfect Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub

Hello All!  Today I’m letting my hubby Justin do a take-over on the blog with this incredible smoked turkey recipe we prepared for a small gathering the other weekend. With it being the holiday season we had a turkey in our freezer that just needed to be thawed for a less formal occasion.

That’s the beauty of a smoked turkey, it’s a more casual approach to a bird that is often prepared for formal occasions. This smoked turkey recipe can be enjoyed any time of year; winter or summer, it’s a delicious and easy dish to prepare.

If you’re the kind of chef that likes to set it and forget it, then this is the turkey recipe for you. It’s simple, it’s versatile and it’s gosh darn easy and delicious. The patience required to pull off this recipe is hard but it is so worth it in the end and the results will truly shine for themselves.

Heck, if I can make a turkey on the Pit Boss…anyone can! I’ll let Justin take it from here.

Why smoke a turkey?

Smoking your turkey is a long process of love but it is one that’s pretty hands off and basically just requires patience. In time your turkey will be finished cooking and with that, you will have a crispy skinned bird with juicy meat inside. Together every bite is a wonderful combination of flavor and taste. Even the leftovers taste incredible!

How do you smoke a turkey in a pit boss pellet smoker?

One of the easiest ways to smoke a turkey on a Pit Boss pellet smoker is to spatchcock the turkey, then place it right on the grill grate to cook. The spatchcock method allows for even cooking of the bird and gets more surface area of the turkey browned and crispy. 

There’s nothing better than juicy, tender meat underneath perfectly crispy and browned skin. This is the BEST smoked turkey recipe when you follow along with the step by step instructions. It doesn’t get much easier than this!

For this smoker method, I kept the temperature lower at 300F for most of the cooking time, then increased the temperature to 350F for the last half an hour to reach that ideal level of browning and crispiness on the skin and seal in the moisture. 

What kind of pellets should I use?

I recommend the Pit Boss competition blend pellets, but you can use any pellets you prefer. If you want to stick with the pit boss brand then you have a lot of great and flavorful options including charcoal pellets, Georgia pecan, mesquite, a classic blend, hickory, apple, and fruit-flavored too.

Pick and choose which ones you want and create a wonderful and subtle taste of heaven in every bird.

Note that you do not have to stick with the Pitboss brand pellets for this recipe if you do not want to. Other brand pellets will work just fine in this recipe and can offer you a bigger flavor variety as well.

Is a pit boss smoker electric or gas?

Pit boss makes smokers that are electric and they make some that are gas. For this recipe, I am using my gas smoker but you are more than welcome to use an electric smoker if your turkey can fit.

Note that you can still use wooden pellets inside of your electric smoker so go right on ahead and enjoy a smoked turkey that is sure to have you dreaming of the holidays all year long.

How long does it take to smoke a turkey on a pit boss smoker?

Cooking time all depends on the size of your bird and if you use the spatchcock method or not. We went with a smaller-sized 5-7kg young turkey, and the total smoking time was 2.5 hours.

If you have a larger turkey, but still use the spatchcock method you can estimate approximately 25 minutes per kg, so a larger 9kg turkey will take approximately 3 hrs and 45 minutes (using the spatchcock method). 

What is spatchcock turkey?

Spatchcocking means to butterfly the bird. This is when you remove the backbone of the chicken or turkey and lay it out flat to cook. When you do this, the cooking time significantly decreases and the bird cooks faster and more evenly.

With a more level surface space, the breasts and the thighs can cook and finish at about the same time instead of one before the other. There’s also more skin exposed to the heating elements so that means that the skin gets even crispier.

Should I spatchcock my turkey?

If you have the space for it, I always recommend it. This added butchering step really helps to provide you with the best holiday turkey results. By spatchcocking a turkey you can really shave down on the amount of time needed to cook it. By a rule of thumb, an oven-roasted turkey that was spatchcocked would take about ⅓ of the required time to cook.

When you smoke a spatchcocked turkey you allow more surface to be exposed for the flavorful pellets to penetrate as well so that means that your entire bird tastes incredible and that no areas are left unflavored.

So it is up to you whether or not you would like to try this method of cooking but there really are no downsides to it. You will need some strong kitchen shears and a large sharp knife to do this as that backbone can be a bit tough to get out, but after that, it’s practically as easy as a cakewalk!

Should you wrap a turkey in foil when smoking?

No. When spatchcocking a turkey, wrapping it with tin foil on the smoker is not required. Nor is it desired. 

You want the smoke to penetrate the meat during smoking and tin foil would prevent this key aspect of the cooking. Not only that but it would also prevent the turkey from browning too much so you’d be left with a plain looking bird instead of one that’s golden delicious!

Also, because of the relatively short cooking period, the turkey is not at risk of getting dried out and therefore you don’t need to worry about covering it with foil to help seal in the moisture. 

Without foil, this crispier skin turkey is still super juicy and delicious! 

Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub Ingredients

To prepare this smoking turkey, and the barbecue rub, you do not need many ingredients. The rub is very simple to make but packs a ton of flavor.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 5-7kg young turkey (neck and turkey giblets removed)
  • Butter (or non-dairy butter like Earth Balance)

Maple BBQ Rub:

  • Onion flakes
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Montreal chicken spice mix
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Pure maple syrup

The combination of sweet and salty works so well with the smoky flavor created by the Pit Boss and the rub creates a nice crispy, caramelized skin that locks in the moisture of the turkey meat. 

How To Prepare, Step-by-Step:

While Christal is a great cook, she definitely is not a pro with the Pit Boss. So, I walked her through the process of preparing her first smoked turkey and she was pleasantly surprised at how easy it really was.

This is pretty much a “set it and forget it” recipe. The great thing about smoking a turkey as compared to oven-roasting is that you don’t have to baste the turkey over and over again to avoid a dry bird.

Here’s what you’ll do: 

1. Spatchcock the turkey with kitchen shears, then open it and lay flat. Place it cut-side down on a large baking/roasting pan. Then, rub 1 tablespoon of butter all over the turkey skin. 

2. In a bowl combine the dry rub spices with the maple syrup and mix, then pour over the turkey and rub all over the skin, into the breast and legs to generously coat, then set aside.

3. Turn on the Pit Boss and set the temperature to 300 degrees F, pre-heat with the lid closed for 15 minutes. 

4. Transfer the turkey directly from the pan onto the Pit Boss grill grate and close the lid.

5. Smoke for approximately 2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. 

6. Increase the smoker temperature to 350F and baste the turkey with the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and smoke until internal temperature reaches 165F(approx. 30 mins). A larger bird takes longer.

7. When finished, remove turkey from the smoker, cover with tin foil and let rest for 15 minutes, then carve as desired, serve, and enjoy!


Whether you are new to the smoker world or are a smoker master, you’ll love this simple Pit Boss smoked turkey with maple bbq rub. It’s easy, delicious, and great for a small gathering of friends or family. 

Serve up this smoked turkey for thanksgiving dinner or throughout the year so you can also make the most epic leftover turkey sandwiches (if there is any!). There’s never a wrong time for a delicious turkey dinner!




Have you ever made a whole turkey on a Pit Boss? Tell me about it in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save for later!

Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub

Pit Boss Smoked Turkey with Maple BBQ Rub

Yield: Serves 5-7
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Rest Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

This Pit Boss smoked turkey with an easy maple bbq rub is moist on the inside with a perfectly crispy skin. It takes under 3 hours to prepare and is packed with protein.


  • 1 5-7kg young turkey
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Maple BBQ Rub

  • 1 tbsp onion flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Montreal chicken spice mix
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup


  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


    1. Spatchcock the turkey with kitchen shears by cutting the turkey open along the backbone on both sides (discard the backbone). **see notes**
    2. Open the turkey by splitting the breastbone and lay the bird flat to ensure even cooking.
    3. Place the turkey cut-side down on a large baking/roasting pan.
    4. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter all over the turkey into the skin.
    5. In a bowl combine all of the spices with 1/4 cup maple syrup and mix until a runny paste is achieved.
    6. Pour the maple bbq mixture over the turkey and rub all over the skin and into the breast and legs to coat, then set aside.
    7. Turn on the Pit Boss and set temperature to 300F, and pre-heat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
    8. Transfer the turkey directly onto the Pit Boss grill grate and close the lid.
    9. Smoke for approximately 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145F.
    10. Increase the smoker temperature to 350F and baste the turkey with the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
    11. Smoke until internal temperature reaches 165F (approx 30 minutes more).
    12. Once finished, remove turkey from the smoker, cover with tin foil and let rest for 15 minutes, then carve as desired, serve, and enjoy!


  • If you do not know how to spatchcock a turkey, watch this tutorial.
  • For a 7kg+ turkey, increase the rub ingredients by 1.5x and cooking time by 25 minutes per kg.

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Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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