1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Expedited Turkey Smoke

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by scootermagoo, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic

    I would like to smoke a turkey on Sunday for a trial run for Thanksgiving.  I have purchased a 12 lb. turkey today and it is currently in the refrigerator.  Is it going to be possible for me to get this bird thawed and in a 12 hour brine in time to stick in the smoker by 10 or 11 a.m. this Sunday or am I just dreaming.  Any input will be of great help.
  2. Hi Scott

    I'm no expert, but I would think you would have about 3 days thawing in the fridge for a 12 pound bird.  If you can work on it today you can get it thawed out in water (submerge in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes).  Would take most of the day.  You could get it in the brine tonight for 24 hours, take it out tomorrow night to dry in the fridge overnight, then get it in the smoker Sunday morning.

    Here's a link with some more details:


    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this, don't want to leave a recommendation here that could make someone sick.
  3. I want to back you up WaywardSwede.  I think you are spot on.  Refrigerator thawing is preferred and the least labor-intensive but requires more time. Cold water thawing takes less time but requires more attention. Regardless of which method you choose, you should never thaw a turkey at room temperature.

    From Butterball website:
    • Thaw breast side down, in an unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover your turkey completely.
    • Change water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled.
    • Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per lb.
    • Consume product within 2-4 days of thawing
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  4. Is it necessary to fully change out the water, or can you just add a bit of ice from time to time?  That's what I've done in the past.  Didn't get sick, but don't want to take any unnecessary risks.  

    I wasn't sure if the main factor is the temp of the water, or if there's some reason that you need to get the "old" water off.
  5. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah....I think I am calling off the smoke for Sunday.  I don't want to make anybody in my house sick.  I am going to proceed by letting it thaw in the fridge, brine the 24 hours, let the skin dry out and smoke it during the week.  It was a last minute decision to buy the turkey but it is not worth getting anybody sick.
  6. I imagine changing the water helps draw the cold from the bird.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  7. little smokey

    little smokey Smoking Fanatic

    Now instead of changing out the water every half hour you can put the turkey in a large stock pot and keep cold water running real slowly into the pot.  This will keep the water moving and thawing the turkey quicker.  This method is used in most restaurants and hotels. Just make sure the water is cold water not not warm water.
  8. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic


    I ended up getting the turkey smoked.  I was browsing some other threads and went on a suggestion/method of another forum member.  I mixed up Tip's Slaughterhouse brine and thawed/brined the turkey in a large cooler.  I had bags of ice in with the turkey and brine and some bricks in Ziploc bags to occupy some space.  It thawed/brined for a little over 24 hours.  The biggest problem was getting the interior thawed so I could get the neck and "gut bag" pulled out.  Dried out the skin, rubbed with oil and sprinkled with Mrs. Dash.  Smoked it on Sunday in Reefer Madness at 275 for about 5 hrs.  I wasn't paying attention and the IT temp spiked to about 170°.  I wanted to pull it at 165°, oops.  I really need to get a Maverick 732 or iGrill.  I let it rest for about 1/2 hr.  Meanwhile, I looked for a video on YouTube on how to carve a turkey, I never carved one.  I carved it up, it turned out OK.  Everything was moist, the wife loved it.  I thought it was just OK.  I thought it could have had more flavor but that is probably because it was frozen during the brining process.  I also wanted just a little more smoke flavor.  It didn't suck up a lot of smoke even though I supplemented with an AMNPS.  It had just a hint of smokiness, which might not be a bad thing.  Sorry, I didn't get any pictures, I was too busy wiggin' out.  Shame on me.  The skin was crisp and a golden brown, actually a very nice looking bird.........but you guys wouldn't know...........I DIDN"T TAKE ANY PICTURES!

    I'd call this one a minor success.  Next time, I will plan way ahead.  I need to start thawing out the bird mid-week prior if I want to smoke on a Sunday.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  9. Been there, brother.  And the planning ahead thing still bites me on the backside sometimes, even when I think I have things under control.

    Still, sounds like you made something that was pretty good.  For my part, if I can keep my wife happy, well then that's a good day!  We are most times are own harshest critics, it was probably better than you think.

    And the remote thermometer (I have the Maverick) is one of things I never knew I needed until I got it, and now couldn't imagine being without it.  It just makes everything so much easier.
  10. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic

    Yea, it's the wireless remote feature that I could have benefited from yesterday.  I got wrapped up in another project running concurrently to the turkey smoke and I overshot my goal IT, piss me off!  Meh, it still turned out OK.  But now I have an excuse to get a Maverick......or iGrill, either one.