How do you keep turkey skin crispy when smoking?

Last Updated on: 13th November 2022, 09:18 pm

Smoked turkey is one of the best choices when you want to surprise your guests on Thanksgiving.

But it requires a lot more effort to smoke a turkey effectively than just putting it in the oven, and the outcomes are also different.

However, getting crispy skin on the turkey is a skill.

I have been in the same situation several times.

The reason for this is that smoking is a low and slow process, and you may need to spritz the turkey to keep it from drying out.

So how do you get a crispy skin on turkey while keeping it tender at the same time?

The simple and straightforward way to get a crispy skin on your smoked turkey is by smoking it at higher temperatures in the range of 275–330°F.

Alternatively, you can smoke the turkey first and then finish it on a grill at a temperature of around 350°F to get a crispy skin.

Either way, you need to keep an eye out for the tenderness of the turkey.

The reason is that by smoking turkey at higher temperatures, you can get a good bark, but if you make a slight mistake, you might end up with a dry and tough turkey.

To avoid affecting the texture of the turkey, you need to spritz it during smoking.

Although it will soften the bark at first, once the bark is developed and the turkey is done, you can increase the temperature to evaporate the moisture present on the surface of the turkey.

Tips for getting a crispy skin on the turkey

The appearance of the turkey is the first thing that a person observes before tasting it.

If your turkey has crispy skin with a golden color, then it will be enough to show off your barbecue skills to your family and friends on Thanksgiving.

But getting crispy skin on a turkey is really a complex process that requires some practise to master.

But if you follow the right guidelines to smoke the turkey without making the skin soggy, then you will surely get a crispy skin on your smoked turkey.

Here are some helpful hints for getting crispy skin on the turkey.

Smoke your turkey at higher temperatures

Believe us, we don’t want to repeat it and push it down your throat, but it is one of the main things that will determine whether you can get a good and crispy bark on your turkey or not.

If you smoke turkey at higher temperatures, then there is a good chance of getting crispy bark.

The reason is that the softness of the bark present on the surface of the turkey is due to the moisture content present on the surface of the brisket.

If turkey is smoked at higher temperatures in the range of 265–330°F, the temperature will evaporate, and you will get a good quality bark.

If you follow the traditional low and slow smoking process, you might end up with a rubbery and chewy bark.

The reason is that by smoking the turkey at lower temperatures, you might retain its tenderness. But it will also contain moisture.

you should avoid wrapping turkey at stall.

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to keep the temperature below 330°F.

If the temperature exceeds this range, then the turkey skin might rupture and become tough and dry.

So it is better to maintain the temperature at around 300 °F.

Finish the turkey in the oven or on the grill

If you have already smoked your turkey or your smoker can’t heat up to the higher temperatures, then you might consider finishing up your turkey in the oven.

The oven can heat up to higher temperatures easily and can help you get rid of extra moisture.

By finishing your turkey in the oven, the moisture present on the surface of the bird will evaporate and it will become crispy.

You can preheat your oven to 300°F and then place your smoked turkey inside it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, you can take out your turkey and enjoy it with guests.

If the turkey didn’t get a crispy skin yet, then you can place it back into the oven for another 10–15 minutes.

You should consider not overdoing it to avoid drying out.

You can also do a similar process using a grill.

By finishing your turkey on a grill, you will not only get a crispy skin but also a darker bark.

So it’s a win-win situation.

In the case of a grill, you need to put it on the grill for no more than 20 to 30 minutes to avoid overcooking.

Don’t tent your turkey while it’s resting

Tenting is a phenomenon in smoking that means that the turkey is enclosed in a tent-shaped foil after being removed from the smoker.

It is done so to allow the turkey to reabsorb the meat juices and become more tender.

But on the flip side, it affects the crispiness of turkey skin. in addition, you need to rest it for specified time.

The reason is that if the turkey is tented, the moisture will be trapped inside the foil and stick to the surface, making it more soft and soggy.

So if you want to get a crispy skin on your turkey, then you need to rest it without tenting it.

But if you want to tent the turkey for some reason, then make sure that there is some space between the foil and the turkey to allow the passage of airflow.

Use a dry rub

Rub is an important part of the process when smoking turkey.

You need to rub the turkey prior to smoking to allow the rub to stick to it and enhance its flavor.

But if you want to get a crispy skin on your turkey, then you should consider using a dry rub.

The reason is that wet rubs usually contain a higher amount of liquid, which can be absorbed into the turkey and make its skin soft and soggy.

While using a dry rub on the surface of your turkey will make the bark crisper.

The reason for this is that dry rubs typically contain salt.

The salt present inside the rub draws out the moisture of the turkey, which is then evaporated when the temperature increases.

If you are brining your turkey, then you should consider dry brining it.

Apply oil or butter to the surface of the turkey prior to smoking.

One thing that did the trick for me when trying to get a crispy skin on my turkey was to rub it with baking powder or mustard and then apply oil to it.

Baking powder basically absorbs the moisture present inside the turkey and also helps the oil stick to the surface of the bird.

When the temperature of the smoker is increased, the mixture of oil and baking powder present on the surface of the turkey will dry up, helping the skin to become crispy.

In addition, it will also help to avoid the rupturing of turkey skin.

Why is my smoked turkey skin rubbery?

As a general rule, the most common cause of the rubbery skin on a smoked turkey is low temperatures and high moisture.
If the temperature of the smoker is kept low, the moisture in the turkey will not evaporate, resulting in rubbery skin.

In addition, if you over-spritz the turkey or the moisture content of the smoker is increased, then it can also result in making the skin rubbery.
The only way to fix it is to bake or grill the turkey at 350-400°F for 20-30 minutes.

Why is my smoked turkey skin black?

The black-and-white answer to this question is that the skin of smoked turkey becomes black if it is smoked for a longer time at higher temperatures.
It is usually not a bad thing unless the skin of the turkey is charred.
Blackening of bark is generally thought to be a good thing in smoking.
It basically means that the turkey has been exposed to smoke for enough time to be smoked properly.
The skin can also turn black if the turkey is placed on a grill to make the bark dry and crispy.

Is chewy turkey undercooked?

The simple and straightforward answer to this question will be yes on all three counts.
If the turkey is chewy and rubbery in texture, then it is not done yet.
You should consider placing it back in the smoker.
To avoid getting a chewy texture, you need to make sure the turkey is done before taking it off the smoker.


To get a crispy skin on your turkey, you need to smoke it at higher temperatures.

Usually, you can get crispy skin by following the tips mentioned above.

But you need to keep in mind that you can only master it with practice.

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