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Why are my smoked turkeys turning black and cooking really fast???

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I used to use an old red cylinder Brinkmann smoker. It took forever to cook a turkey but they were beautiful in color! Now, I'm using a Masterbuilt 30" smoker at 275 F, with the AMPS setup (smoking on both ends):




I smoked two turkeys for Thanksgiving in 2012 and two this year. All four turned out black in color, just like the picture of the last one I smoked below. Are my turkeys burned, cresote, too much smoke, etc.??? Also they cook very fast, I'm talking 15 minutes a pound to reach 165 F. That seems really quick to me.



Any input is greatly appreciated!!!

post #2 of 20
So a few more questions.

1. Do you brine? What's the brine recipe

2. What's your rub.

3. Wood, what type how much?

I hot smoke my turkeys at temps around 325+/-. Looking at your turkey I would assume lots if sugar in your brine, or rub, and probably bad smoke for whatever reason.

This is what I did this year. Average smoker temp 325*. Brined, simple rub of SPOG.
post #3 of 20

how hot were you running your grill? Last time I did a turkey we butchered our own and it was about a 15 # turkey....I had it all set up and started to smoke at 225 degrees at more than most the day. Took me only 4 hrs to cook that bad boy and had to keep it in a warm box till we were ready to eat. Seems to me that a turkey cooks faster than a pork butt or brisket even though its the same #s just because its hollow and not solid. Just been my experience. I've also noticed that when I pan it to make sure it stays nice and juicy it takes a bit longer to cook that way as well. Maybe because the juice or whatever liquid is absorbing some of the heat?

post #4 of 20

You only need one end of the AMPS. Both ends is for cold smoking. One end is more than enough smoke when cooking.


I am guessing you might also be using a hard wood, Mesquite? Hickory? Hard smokes like these tend to deeply color a bird. Hickory will make it blackest.


Vent position? Is it at least 1/2 opened? High temps you need it full open.


Smoke coming out, white smoke? It might come from over heat, and water in the water tray.


Get a separate thermometer, that you have faith in, and check the box temp. for accuracy. MES30's are notoriously inaccurate. Once you check and establish your Delta T, (differential temperature), you can the set your box accordingly to establish your temps you want.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Some excellent input. Here are some of the parameters of my smokes.


Smoker was set to 275 F the entire time. I don't know if it's off or not. I guess I better figure out if it's off or not.


Out of my four smoke, twice I've brined and twice I have not. All four turned out black.


I'm using a hickory-apple-cherry-maple pellet blend on all four smokes.


No water tray, just a drippings tray.


Vent is wide open, all of the time.


Sometimes it is thin blue smoke, but there are times where it's smoking like a freight train (exaggeration).

post #6 of 20

This is one I did in 2006.  It is the only time I had one this color.  I think I had hickory and cherry mixed on that smoke.  Tasted great though.


post #7 of 20

dward51, yours looks awesome. I did a turkey with apple this Thanksgiving and got that same look on the skin. Tasted like candy. Crispy, sweet, delicious.

post #8 of 20

I did that one at 275 in my MES 40 yesterday with pit master's choice. Actual smoker temp was 275-285 and this 18 lb bird cooked in about 5 hours
post #9 of 20
Forgot to add all I did on the outside was coat with vegetable oil and salt and pepper
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Foamheart View Post

You only need one end of the AMPS. Both ends is for cold smoking. One end is more than enough smoke when cooking.


What he said, Also, check your temps.

post #11 of 20
Try grape seed oil next time. It's takes the heat better. Also I used A 80/20 blend of apple/ hickory. My guess..... It's the veggie oil and the temp. I baste with grape seed oil and sea salt / pepper after two hours then crank the heat from 275 up to 350 to finish and only apply smoke for the first 2 hrs.
post #12 of 20

Yep...verify your temp with another thermometer.  I did mine at 300° .  Oiled the skin with EVOO.


post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

One thing I wanted to mention is that the meat tastes great (except the one that accidently was overcooked ;) )! When I brought the turkey over to the inlaws last year everyone asked if I had burned it! I honestly didn't know at the time, since it was the first time I smoked with my new smoker and the pellets I currently use. Once people started eating, they were saying it was the best one I had smoked. Still, I wanted to get to the bottom of the black outside and quick cooking times.


It seems the consensus is that I possible combination of too much smoke, compounded by cherry wood in the blend and possibly a very inaccurate temperature gauge on the MES 30.


I have nearly 30 pounds of pellets left and it will take a good while for me to use them up. The first course of action is that I can control the smoke better and verify my actual smoker temperature.


Thanks for the input so far!

post #14 of 20
That's the tough thing with smoking.. Controlling the temp and making sure the guest LOVE it. LoL. I will spatchcock the turkey next year if I go over a 15lb turkey. But the family loved the smoked flavor and spices. With out the people on this forum I don't think I would have tried a 18lb turkey. Hope you have a great holiday and keep the pics coming!!
post #15 of 20

The only thing I did different from what you did was have my vents closed smaller and I had several pieces of bacon on the rack above to baste. I smoked with hickory saw dust and a couple of soaked chunks. My turkey cooked really quick this year though, so quick I was kinda concerned. It was really good and looked about like Meddling Kids turkey.

post #16 of 20

Cherry wood shouldn't give it that dark color...I use cherry and it gives it a red color..

post #17 of 20
I cooked 3 turkeys this year; one to test out, one to sell, and one for turkey day. The test bird and the one for turkey day I brined and used Simply Marvelous cherry rub and sprayed the skin with Pam Olive Oil, the one I sold I brined, used Jeff's rub and DIDNT spray the skin. All three I used the same recipe and smoked with cherry and kingsford blue in my UDS.

The one I didnt spray the skin turned black, it scared the hell out of me thinking I had burned it. I was cooking at 275 for 5 hours, I suspect the combo of the brown sugar in the rub *I use turbinado in my rub, but its a bit too spicy for turkey* combined with not spraying the skin. I went back to the way I did the first bird and got the same red skin that Im used to with cherry.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

I decided to try the techniques mentioned above on another bird. The picture is of the bird after sitting about 18 hours in the refrigerator. I think the picture speaks for itself.


post #19 of 20

I agree with Foamheart.  Light one end of the AMNPS and have the exhaust open.

post #20 of 20

I have been having the same problems with food tuning black.

Good info here. Anymore tips would be great.

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