Need Advice for 1st Turkey Smoke

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by gordo, Jun 24, 2008.


    I would like to do a couple of turkeys this weekend, and have never done any poultry on the smoker before. Just butts, ribs, and a brisket.

    I have been trying to piece together what I need to know from various threads here, but want to make sure I am on the right track.

    I have two turkeys in the 10 lb range.

    BRINING: Looks like there are lots of good recipes mentioned here, so I shouldn't have any problems with that.

    SMOKER TEMP: 275 -Appears that you want to run it hotter than when doing a pork shoulder.

    INTERNAL TEMP: Need to reach 140 within 4 hours to be within the safe zone. Final temp of about 165 in thickest part of bird.

    Approximately how long does the average bird take?

    Thanks for any help, Gordo
  2. jfoust

    jfoust Smoke Blower

    I just did a turkey breast this weekend. Not quite the same as a whole turkey, but close enough.

    Brine - This is what I used and it was phenomenal. Don't remember if I got it here or somewhere else, but it's pretty good odds that it was from here. I brined for about 12 hours and on a breast that was just right.

    2 gallons water
    1 1/2 cups kosher salt
    3 tablespoons minced garlic
    1 tablespoon ground black pepper
    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    1/3 cup brown sugar

    Smoker Temp - Maybe just a little hotter than you would use for pork, but I wouldn't go much over 300. I did mine at 275 because I was doing other things at the same time and I didn't want them to dry out.

    Internal temp - final should be 170-180 for turkey. On my breast, I was obviously taking temp at the breast. Can't offer any help for a whole bird, unfortunately.

    Good luck and post pics! BTW, the turkey I did this weekend was easily the best tasting turkey I've ever eaten! It came out of the smoker so moist and full of flavor that it brought a tear to my eye.
  3. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Some of the information is a little off.

    You want to be at 140 degrees within 4 hours. Bacteria thrive in the 40-140 degree temperature range so it is best to go from the fridge to the smoker and get the bird to 140 by the time listed. A few minutes here or there is fine and with those smaller birds you will have no issue getting there.

    Temperature: it depends. If you want crispy skin you need the higher temperaure. 300 or above. If you don't care about the skin you can smoke it like a butt, low and slow at 225 - 250. You should still reach above 140 degrees internal by the recommended 4 hours. Some people will say there is no benefit to low and slow for poultry as there is little internal fat to render, or that the longer smoke time will dry out the bird, but I have found in my experience, especially with a brined or injected bird, this isn't the case. I prefer around 275 for my birds. If the skin is rubbery and I want to crisp it, a few minutes on a hot grill or broiler will do that.

    Thermometer should monitor the internal temp in the thickest part of the bird.

    The USDA recommended minimum internal temperature for poultry is 165 degrees. It's not 180 like it use to be. Some pull it out at 160 and let it sit and rise to 165. I try and be safe and go to 167 and pull it out then. I'm always rewarded with a juicy bird.

    The above is what is considered safe to eat; some may prefer the higher temps as the meat is "firmer".

    Good luck and let us know how you made out.
  4. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Actually the deal is 140°F within 4 hours. And into a thick meaty part. Check both. Use the lowest of course.
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Gordo I did a turkey a few weeks ago and I brined the bird then injected some of the brine as well. I smoked at 300-350* the bird was out of the danger zone quickly at the higher temps and was still very juicy. The skin was nice and crisp but by no means burnt. I removed when the breast hit 167* and tent foiled in a pan for 1/2 hour before slicing.

    How ever you choose to do it don't forget the Qview [​IMG]
  6. Thanks Ron50, that helps a lot.
  7. Brined overnight on the deck and cooked as you see it here. The weber is fitted with side baskets. Note the properly foiled thermo. Also, don't forget to roast your bones to a golden brown before making stock.

  8. generalee

    generalee Fire Starter


    I have been smoking those turkeys for the last 2 years. I do them each Thanksgiving and Christmas. Started by doing 2 then quickly increased to 6 each time.

    Something that I didn't see mentioned, is to keep the turkey to 12 pounds or less in size. Partially due to the need to reach the 140 zone by the 4 hour mark. Partially due to advice from other smokers about the birds seeming to be a bit less tender above the 12# size. That advise has kept me in good stead. If in doubt buy the birds with the pop up therms in them.

    I run the smoker temp at 250 ish, could run 275-300 but never over, and I try to keep at 250. Smoking time for my birds seem to run about 6 hours. I am cooking them to an internal temp of 170F or so. The whole bird is plenty juicy.

    Although to get juicy, you must brine the birds. I brine for a min of 24 hours. I found a recipe off the board here along time ago. Just a basic one, but works fabulously. Brining is really not an option IMHO. [​IMG]

    Another thing, the skin basically becomes decorational and sacrificial on my birds. Too tough and chewy and not really any taste. I peel it off before I begin carving.

    Be careful who you share the birds with.[​IMG][​IMG] Once they taste a good smoked turkey, there is no going back. Now I am the official cook for 25 people each holiday. Love to do it!

  9. A turkey would approximately thirty minutes per pound. If smoking a twelve pound turkey, the general guideline is 6.5 hours. Once you smoke a turkey, you never cook one in the oven again.

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