Smoking 4 turkeys at once

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Original poster
Nov 20, 2016
Dallas, TX
Welcome your advice on my Thanksgiving challenge...smoking 4 turkeys (and a ham) at once.

Offset smoker (no brand; custom). Has the capacity, but have never smoked at higher temps. Turkeys + ham will fit on cook surface with room for smoke.
Four 13+ lb birds. (13.2-13.4). Frozen w 9% solution, will be thawed by Tue afternoon. Plan to brine. Haven't dried before, but sounds like a good idea for crisper skin. Plan to rub and use butter/baste/spray.
Want smoke to be finished by about 1:00 Thur. Of course I want the birds to be moist, with a crisp skin, taste great. Would prefer them to have a nice other words, perfect.

My key questions:
1) How much chaos should I expect with cook time with the full smoker?
2) What is the better strategy for cook temp? Have concerns with the birds that will be on the hot side of the cook surface if I cook at higher temp (300). (Will rotate at some point, but don't want to burn skin in meantime.) Concern with lower temp (240) is not only food safety but also leathery skin and drying the meat.
3) Will transport locally after the smoke, so rest time will automatically be hour or more. Want to make sure done in time, but concerned longer rest will cause skin to degrade. (E.g., if they all get to temp 3 hours ahead of time.) Is this a valid concern, and how should I rest them to preserve their perfect-ness coming off the smoke?
4) Re: Ham. It's a warming to 140 / flavoring of a sprial cut. Will do it in coolest part and just try to keep it from messing up the turkeys. Least of my concerns, but it's a detail.

So, I'm more after techniques than recipes. I look forward to all of your thoughts. THANK YOU for your time.
Howdy Mike.  

Welcome to the forum!. 

Save your time brining those birds. They've been packed in 9% of solution long enough!  It would be a wast of your time IMHO.

Remember a little smoke goes a long was with poultry. When I use my offset  ( a custom like yours) I burn charcoal for heat and add a little chunk or two  of wood for smoke. Wood abundantly  available us folks around DFW is post oak. I think it works well with turkey. 

You'll want to rotate those birds during the cook every 2 or 3 hours. You'll be cooking a lot of meat absorbing lots of heat. I'd cook at 250. Once the birds IT at the breast hits around 155 or so pour the coals on and get that smoker up to 300 for the last 45 min to an hour to crisp the skin.

Make sure you don't exceed 4 hours to get the IT to 140. Safety first! 

The skin might soften a bit if you let the bird loaf for longer than an hour.  But bet you'll be the only one that notices.

Good luck!


Looking for a different technique? Thanksgiving turkey on my electric unit. 
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Thank you, B. Great points here as well as in the link you shared. Appreciate you taking the time. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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