First Turkey

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Original poster
Oct 5, 2010
Hi. I just bought a turkey to smoke  this weekend. I bought  a 20 pound bird. Just read on the web site that they recommend only a 14 pound bird. Why? I estimate the cooking time time to be around 13 hours, does this sound right.

 I have a master built propane smoker. There is lots of room for the big guy. Am I crazy  to attempt this? Should I get a smaller bird? Can I do 2 turkeys the same weight at the same time? Thanks in advance for your replies.


SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
Sep 12, 2009
Macungie, PA
I have not even attempted a turkey yet.

If I do, it will be smaller than 20 pounds, especially for my first one.

I believe one of the problems is getting it done before it goes bad, but I really haven't looked into it.

Somebody who knows a lot more about smoking turkeys than I do, should be along soon.

I think since this is your first post, you should go to "Roll Call" and introduce yourself, so we can all welcome you.

You might want to slow down a bit & start with an easier chore.

Welcome to a great place Osully,



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Jan 19, 2008
A Holler in North Iowa
Best ta spatchcock a bird that big ta get it outa the danger zone in less then 4 hours.  That be why we stick with bout 12 lb a bird.

Two 10 lb'ers won't take much longer then a 20 pounder, acutally might be a bit quicker.
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Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Oct 18, 2007
West Fargo, ND / Northern MN
Yea the reason they say to not do a bird that big is because of the danger zone. You want your meat to go from 40 degrees to 140 degrees in four hours or less because of the risk of bacteria etc. You could probably pull it off with the 20lb bird but you would probably want to kick up the smoker temps a bit to make sure you get it out of the danger zone. Normally we prefer to go with a smaller bird so you don't have to worry about the danger zone.


Legendary Pitmaster
SMF Premier Member
Oct 17, 2009
Hendertucky, Nv.
I did a 20# last year on my UDS and it hit 140* in 3 1/2 hours and I was sweating it. 13 hours and you will have a room full of sick folks. I'm very confident with this smoker but will smoke a smaller one this year just to be on the safe side. Rule of thumb is 40* to 140* in 4 hours.
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Smoking Fanatic
Apr 29, 2008
Powhatan, Virginia
All very good advice..  Don't want that bird taking too long to get to temp.  I did a turkey a few weekends ago and I think it is one of the best ways to cook it.  good luck and wanna see QView.


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
Feb 3, 2009

 First off welcome to the SMF family,

 I don't know if you have access to a turkey fryer or not? But if you do you can smoke it for 3.5 hrs and then fry.

 The best of both worlds, and no worries about getting out of the danger zone in 4 hours w/ that big bird..


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Mar 12, 2009

First off welcome there Osally to SMF. I would recommand that you follow the direction of Tip (travcoman) he knows what he's talking about and for that so do the rest of the good fellows that have given you advice. Now I would tell you the same as they have. So I would spatchcock that bird and smoke it but next time I would go with a smaller bird heck buy 2 if you need that much meat. So after thats all said and done welcome to SMF. you'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks (like all that have answered you questions) here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now go get something to smoke and if you have any question just post it here and we will come a runnin.

Welcome To Your New Addiction.


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Jun 21, 2007
Welcome to the SMF. When smoking poultry, Low and slow isn't needed like when your using cuts of beef/pork, Higher smoker temp would help when using a large bird. I never smoke under 350° when I'm working with poultry.It's all good my friend.


Original poster
Thread starter
Oct 5, 2010
Sorry folks, didn't know there was a protocol. I just looked a role call and didn't see where I could write a message.

First off thanks to all for their feed back. Came home from work today with two 10 pound birds.Ill strart with those 

I've been smoking for over a year now. Started with a small electric now I have a bigger propane unit. I've Only done pulled pork and ribs so far.

 I have the families stamp of approval on those. Still using store bought rubs and sauces. Changing that will be next summers challenge.

Thanks to all.

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Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
May 1, 2007

Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us.

This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

For those of you new to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.

Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourseE

When I do a Turkey I rub butter under the skin and then rub the outside with Cavendars Seasoning... Then I smoke it @275º F until it is done.  This gives a great juicy bird and it has a great mahogany color...