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20 lb. Turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by pangomike23, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. I am smoking a 20 lb turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving. I am going to do one practice bird ahead of time. I have no idea where to start. Can anyone give me advice for cooking a bird this size? I have a charcoal smoker. Any help would be great.
  2. Whoa, 20 Lbs just might be too big of a size to smoke.  If you search this forum, they all recommend about a no bigger than 14 lb bird to run through the smoker.  You might be better off smoking 2 12 or 13 Lb birds with better results and enough meat for the crowd your going to feed.

  3. Well I already bought 1-20 lb so I have to try it. Brine 24 hours, stuff with apples, celery and onion, inject and baste every 4 hours, wrap tips in foil to avoid burning? is this a good plan?
  4. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Who in the heck said you can't smoke a 20 lb bird???     Mike you can smoke that no problem...what specifically is your smoker?
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Palladini...you're not supposed to post outside links on here..just an fwi

    You don't cook turkeys at those temps, it's best @ 325 and higher.  I prefer 350.  If you spatchcock your turkey it will cook much much faster also.  I'm doing a couple of 18-20 lb birds and it won't take any more than about 12 minutes per pound.
  6. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    As a general rule it is recommended to not smoke over a 12 lb Turkey there are however exceptions to the rule. When they talk about smoking in general they are talking smoker temps in the 225 degree range smoking at 325-350 changes things. Spatchcocking a bird also changes things.

    If smoking at 225 or so then follow the recommendations and stick with 12 lb and under birds so they get to a safe internal temp within food safety guidelines also don't put stuffing in the turkey as recommended
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Mike a good plan is to brine but it's not super important if it's enhanced...not enhanced i would brine.

    Simple brine. 24 hours is fine.

    1 gallon water 

    1 gallon vegetable stock

    1 cup kosher salt

    1/2 cup light brown sugar

    1TB pepper corns

    Dry bird well, if you spatch it and lay it out flat it will cook faster because you're spreading it out and cooking the inside out. 350 is a great temp for a bird...it gets plenty of smoke and will be juicy and the skin will be crisp.  Feel free to pm me with any questions...i'd be glad to help any way i can. Keith
  8. I plan to smoke a 13lb test bird today, it been in the brine for 24hrs. I have no idea on temps and times. I got a 25lber for thanksgiving. From what I just read that was a mistake. I'm pretty new to smoking using the webber Smokey Mtn. 18". What kind of wood is good for turkey? I had planned to stuff it just read I shouldn't do that.

    So, to recap
    18" Smokey Mtn. / kingsford charcoal
    Do not stuff any part of the bird.
    I plan to use a disposable pan, is that ok?
    My smoker will run between 250 and 300 no problem. Temp time recommendation?
    Temp time rule of thumb for turkey?
    What kind of wood is good??
    What internal temp do I need to get to to pull it out.
    Can I do anything with that 25lber the smoker?

    Sorry for the hijack, and thanks in advance.
  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Disposable pan is fine...personally i'd go right on the grate with a pan below the grate to catch dripping for  gravy and spatchcock.  Cut out the back bone,press it down (you'll hear a crack) lay it flat breast side up. 

    I wouldn't do water (foil your pan) or no pan and get your WSM hotter towards 325 at least... 350 if you can. Don't rely on your dome therm...unreliable

    Time depends on your pit temp , if you're using a pan, if you're using water and if you're spatching or not. 

    Fruit woods like apple is good for poultry.

    165 in the thickest part of the breast is good

    The 25 lb is too big for your 18 inch WSM so i'd go in the oven over 350...definitely brine it. 
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  10. Thank you for the info!!!!!

  11. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    The guys are right. A smaller or Spatchcock Bird is the more logical way... Now if you must have a whole 20lb. bird , make sure the stuffing is hot or at least real warm so the meat will cook through and through. Cold stuffing will tend to transfer the temp. to the inside of the bird and it will be red around the breast bone . And wherer the little Raw/Done line is located  . . . bad news [​IMG]. I opt for a Spatched Bird and go for two cooks , one early so it will go into the Refridgerator and the other to come off at mealtime.The other half can be munched on through the day,cold. Good sammies [​IMG]

    Use a probe to track the temp. in the Breast ,and when it gets golden Brown , cover with foil to protect the skin.Smoke inside down.

    Just my opinion , but will be done through and through and no chance of Bacteria growing.

    Do it safely and have a grand Thanksgiving , until later...have fun and...
  12. No stuffing in this bird (13lber), It went on at 9am got the smoker up to 260 temp came down and stabilized at 240. I'm expecting the temp to come up a bit (aiming for 275) how many hours before I crack that top and stick a gauge in it?

    My plan for that 25lber is the oven now.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  13. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Can't get any hotter huh?  Are you cooking with a waat burner?     
  14. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    oh that's right...Crank that sucker up!
  15. Does less water in the bowl mean more heat? I nearly filled it... Stable now @ 250F 2.5hrs in. When do I want to check it?
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  16. I've done bigger birds, 18 lbs or so, a couple times with good results but always smoke turkeys at around 325-350 degF and with no water in the smoker. The higher temp and lack of water ensures that thin, crisp skin everyone loves. Also, the higher temp brings the bird through the temp danger zone faster so there isn't worry of getting everyone sick. I tried a lower, slower smoke on a chicken once and wasn't happy with the results but everyone has their own likes. So long as you can smoke above 300 degF in your rig the big bird won't be a problem.
  17. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I would have went no water and foiled the bowl but since you did just let the water evaporate and don't refill so you can get hotter temps to crisp the skin. These smokers with water pans were designed to keep lower temps with water...no water you'll be able to get well into the 300's.