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Smoking 20lbs Turkey - Yay or Nay?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've read a few places that do not recommend smoking a turkey over 12lbs since it will be in the danger zone for too long. I have a 20lbs turkey I was planning to smoke for Thanksgiving. Am I okay to smoke it?
post #2 of 25
It's been done. I stick ta the 12 pounders myself. But yer gonna have ta run yer heat up there in the 350° - 375° area. I'd spatchcock that bird to.
post #3 of 25
It would depend on what temps you smoke it at....if you can smoke at the same temps your oven is. then there is no difference for the amount of time in the danger zone. that's a big freakin turkey
post #4 of 25
I'm doing one this year and have before. Not a problem. Kick your temps up to the 300º + range and enjoy. Just remember to keep your prep area clean and sanitized and don't mess around.

Bring pics!
post #5 of 25
I have grill/smoked a 23 pounder before.My temps were 340-360 degrees.I used 3 funnels of charcoal in my WSM and ran her wide open and know water...

I like 16-18 pounders myself and prefer Hens over toms.The big 20 pound tom turkeys have way more bone structure then a hen which has more meat and less bone from my experiences...
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Will smoking it at 300-350 dry it out at all? Also, what's spatchcock??

Also, how long should I expect it to take?
post #7 of 25
Travconman is correct. Only way to safely follow USDA recommendations and smoke it is to spatchcock it. Going by Jeff's recommendations and safe food handling practices, that turkey is too big to smoke whole. Spatchcock means to use poultry shears and cut out the spine and lay the bird flat.

Anybody that says differently is contradicting Jeff.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Just read about spatchcocking. Does that change the moisture, flavor, or texture of the finished product?
post #9 of 25
It will only dry out if overcooked.

I use 14 minutes a pound at 320-340 as a basic guidline.Thats when i start checking the thighs..
post #10 of 25
Spatchcocking is removing the bone structure from the bird. Some remove just the back bone, some all the bone. Look it up on Google or YouTube.

As for contradicting Jeff - I don't mind. I have done it and it can be done safely and very effectively. Use safe food handling and prep practices and don't mess around with low n slow for poultry - ever. It doesn't help the meat tenderize it just gives it a chance to breed bacteria.

My opinion is to go for it and enjoy your meal. Be safe first and foremost.
post #11 of 25
The key thing here is temps...you can smoke things above 300 degrees. so in essence it is just like putting it in a oven. So you can smoke your turkey and conform to USDA guidelines at the same time.PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
I guess I to will contradict Jeff..lol
post #12 of 25
I'd brine it, but ya don't have ta. It shouldn't be much different then cookin that bird in yer oven, cept yer addin smoke to it.

A good sharp pair a kitchen shears, ya cut down each side a the backbone an remove it. Lets ya lay ther bird out flat so there is more surface area an less hollow cavities as such. Speeds up the cookin time it does.

Ya can also use a nice spritz ta help with flavour, moisture an color.
post #13 of 25
I do like the idea of spatchcocking or what ever it's called..thanks travcoman45 I had never heard of that.
post #14 of 25
This isn't a turkey, but it is the same procedure for both.

post #15 of 25
I find myself in the same boat as brandonb with a 20# bird. The first turkey I smoked, I stood up --- it wasn't attractive but tasted good. Would that work a larger bird?

post #16 of 25
I agree spatchcocking is the only way to do this safely - good luck with the smoke
post #17 of 25
I would not advocate any of you guys smoking 20 lb birds. But since it appears many of you are going too, make sure you use extra charcoal or turn that propane up and get that thing hottttttt. If you don't, you're playing with salmonella and sick holiday guests.
post #18 of 25
New member, been smoking meat for about five years. This is the exact question I came here to ask. Awesome!

I'm getting a free bird from work tomorrow and they say it could be 'up to 18 pounds'. I've smoked smaller birds to great success but I'd hate to ruin this one, I have family over.

I was thinking about making a 'back-up brisket' but I was worried about the higher temperature for the turkey. Is there a problem smoking a modest-sized (let's say 8-9 pounds, I don't have the brisket yet either. It's coming from a firend who's in the wholesale butchering business and that's how big they sell their briskets) brisket at 320+ degrees?

Any advice, including 'don't do it'?
post #19 of 25
Not so long ago, I smoked this one (spatchcocked). This was about a 19 pound. Came out perfect.

post #20 of 25
Then I'll have to contradict him. icon_eek.gif
I did a big (18-20 lb) turkey last year. Smoked all night and day, with the smoker never getting past 225. It came out great, and no one got sick.

Maybe I was just lucky.
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