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16lb Turkey in MES 30 thoughts..


Joined Jan 8, 2013
Thanks for taking a moment to read my thread.

I am looking for some help on my first turkey smoke in my MES 30. I have relied on you guys in the past for brisket and other meats and have had great success. However, I seem to always get nervous when I am hosting family/friends and haven't smoked a particular type of meat. I was going to get a 16lb turkey for about 7 people for thanksgiving. I was thinking that was enough for leftovers which goes over well in my family.

Wondering though, what would be some tricks and tips for rocking this smoke? From my research on here, it seems that I need to max the smoker out at 275 and expect to take about 7ish hours. I don't really care about time, but will be shooting for 165 breast and 175 thigh. I also plan to brine and throw on a light rub, use apple chips, and not sure what to do in the water pan. I have used apple juice before, but am reading that maybe I just foil and don't use any water/apple juice for a turkey?!?

My main concern is the size of the turkey in the MES 30 for one and if it will even fit, and my other concern is maxing at 275 and getting past 140 in 4hrs. Let me know your thoughts!! Thanks.


Master of the Pit
Joined Dec 31, 2012
Interested from hearing answers from MES owners on this...i would think you need to spatch it to get close to finishing quick enough. 


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
Joined Feb 3, 2009
Don't think you will be able to get a 16 lb bird thru the safe zone to 140 degrees in 4 hrs on MES.

Maybe if you spatchcock it.  One thing i do is smoke 3 hrs then straight into 375 - 400 degree oil.


Meat Mopper
Joined Aug 28, 2013
I smoked a turkey a few months ago but I think it was a 9 pounder.  I cannot remember how long I smoked it but it sure was good.


Smoking Guru
Staff member
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
OTBS Admin
Group Lead
Joined Jul 7, 2005
Kamikazeape-Unless you can push your temps up into the 350°-375° range, the SMF recommended max weight for turkeys is around 12 lbs. Like eman said you could possibly do it but you basically have to cut them in half. On my Lang 60 the largest I've done was a 20 lb bird only because I ran the smoker at 350° the entire time.

The reason spatchcocking larger birds is recommended is that you eliminate the hollow body cavity that seems to take for ever to heat up. Plus spatching gets the bone-side of the bird closer to your cooking source.


Thread starter
Joined Jan 8, 2013
Thanks for the responses.  So after talking with the wife, we might do a 12lb turkey and a ham (wont smoke that).  So with a 12lber, maxing my MES at 275 should keep me safe and work fine?


Smoke Blower
Joined Jun 8, 2009
I cooked 2 20lb turkeys last year in the MES 40 and it all worked out right. I expected that 5-6 hours

would be needed to cook them but I was wrong!! The one on the left side was up to 165 in 3.5 hours

and the one on the right side took another 30 minutes to reach 165.

The cooking temp was set at 250 but we all know that the temp swing in the MES is -10/+20 on most


The ambient temp that day was in the low 60's and sunny.

Next week, I am cooking 2 of the 19 pound variety. They will be brined and rubbed before the introduction

to the smoke.



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 22, 2011
The way I see it, you should be able to do it with the 16 pounder. I'm all about spatchcocking birds, EXCEPT, at Thanksgiving. There's just something about that beautiful mahogany whole bird coming to the table. It's a vital element to the whole experience, at least in my mind.

What I'd do is smoke it for 3 hours in the MES at 275˚. Give it a good dose of smoke the whole time. Use an Amaze-N smoker of you have it.  If you're looking for color, cherry works well and I think it goes very well with turkey. At the 3 hour mark, have your oven ready and waiting at 375˚ and move the bird directly into it. I'd also take this opportunity to baste it with melted butter. My guess is that by hour 4 your bird should be safely through the danger zone and will hit it's mark (165˚) right around 5 hours. The high heat finish will also fight off the dreaded rubbery skin.

Also, if you brine, do it a day early and give the bird a 24 hour rest UNCOVERED in the bottom of the fridge to dry out the skin before cooking. This makes a huge difference.

Good luck and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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