Smoking a pair of turkeys for Christmas Dinner

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MileHighSmokerGirl

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Nov 29, 2019
382
1,050
Denver, CO
I have a pair of 16 lb turkeys I’m smoking on Christmas for dinner with friends and neighbors.

My smoker tends to run a little hot (which I want for this smoke) when I leave the vents open.

What I’m uncertain about is

- when to start the fire.
- how long to plan for.

We plan on eating around 6 pm Mountain Time.

I also plan to cut each turkey in half to assist with a faster smoke time. Two halves on each rack.

Any tips, insight or advice would be appreciated.

The turkeys have been removed from the deep freeze and are in the process of thawing.

(If memory serves me right my smoke on my old Brinkmann charcoal smoker went 9 hrs and some change).
 
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Well hotter is better for sure. If you smoke 325F+ smoker temp then your skin will be edible rather than leather.

I don't know about 2 turkeys but a 25lb+ takes me about 4.5 hours at a steady 325F smoker temp to hit 165F in the breast.

I think being cut in half the smoke may also go faster.

The main thing is you can go as hot as you like as long as you aren't burning the thing.
You know your smoker better than any of us and worse case just throw those suckers on a hot grill and finish them out if you must speed things up :)

Wish I could be of more help :)
 
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Two 16 lb turkeys with hollow cavities will take the same amount of time as one 16 lb turkey at the same chamber temp. I go 325+. Spatch 'em will save 25% of your time. At a constant temp of 325-350F you're looking at 2.5 to 3.5 hours once loaded if they are completely thawed. If they are still slightly frozen, add up to another hour.
 
I have no idea what spatch is.

I think I’m more worried about starting them too early and then having to keep them in the oven until it’s time to eat.
 
Spatchcock is cutting the spine out of the bird and then spreading them out flat to increase surface area to heat. Cooked breast up and thighs flat on the grill. I can’t imagine more than 4-5 hours on the cook. Need a little rest time too.

I have no idea what spatch is.

I think I’m more worried about starting them too early and then having to keep them in the oven until it’s time to eat.
 
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If your going to smoke them at 325-350 then you don't really need to cut them in half or spatchcock them, that's pretty much oven temps. Unless of course you need to cut them to fit in the smoker better.
If they are cut in half and you are smoking in the 325-350 range then I would agree with Noboundries time estimate.
As was also said you can finish in a hot oven if you were to get short on time. Maybe smoke at 225 to get more smoke flavor then an hour or hour and a half before serving time transfer them into an already heated oven at 350 or so to finish
 
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Well like it was said... you know your smoker better than anyone but in my eyes still better to finish early and hold in oven, even add some broth and cover with foil to keep moist. Better to finish early then wanting to eat and it's not done yet...KFC isn't that great lol!
Good luck and merry Christmas!

Ryan
 
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I'll second the recommendation of spatchcocking the birds. They cook faster and much more evenly. Be sure to press down on the breast bones to flatten the birds down fully. If they are not heavily enhanced already I'd dry brine them with salt or a packaged brine if you have one. Several companies make them.

If you have never seen this here's how I'd carve the birds.


ETA - Spatchcocking can be done with a knife or kitchen shears but is best done with poultry shears or limb loppers.
 
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What I’m uncertain about is

- when to start the fire.
- how long to plan for.
I usually do one every Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year is a little different, though. But anyway, my offset stick burner takes about an hour or so to get up to temp so I allow myself 6 hours from lighting the smoker to finished cooking. My turkeys are around the same weight as yours, are wet brined, injected, and the cavities filled with raw onion halves, celery, carrots and apple halves. I usually run my smoker around 325℉-350℉.
 
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I usually do one every Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year is a little different, though. But anyway, my offset stick burner takes about an hour or so to get up to temp so I allow myself 6 hours from lighting the smoker to finished cooking. My turkeys are around the same weight as yours, are wet brined, injected, and the cavities filled with raw onion halves, celery, carrots and apple halves. I usually run my smoker around 325℉-350℉.

But do you cut yours in half that's going to make a difference in time
 
I think I’m more worried about starting them too early and then having to keep them in the oven until it’s time to eat.

You can put them in the oven uncovered no problem. Don't bother turning the oven on at all. The hot mass of the two turkeys will provide all the heat you'll need to keep them warm and safe.

I generally like to rest turkeys for about an hour, but you can get by with less or more time.

If short on oven space, you can cover it on the counter with HD aluminum foil and an old towel. It tends to soften the crispy skin, though.
 
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Lots of recipes on here but the concept is the same.

My turkey brine is about 1 1/2 gallons of water, 3/4 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar, a large bottle of hard cider, granulated garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, dried rosemary, dried basil, lemon juice, and worcestershire sauce. The key parts of the brine are the first 3 items and after that its really up to you. I let the turkey soak in a food safe bucket 24 to 48 hours, I let dry for an hour or two before prepping turkey for smoking.

I did a couple birds for Thanksgiving including one for someone else. They commented how moist and flavorful it was and their biggest complaint was it was too small so no leftovers. Good luck.
 
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Off and running! The turkeys are on the smoker.

I’m also serving

Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole (neighbor is bringing that)
Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes
Fruit Salad
Sweet dinner rolls (friend is bringing those)

Apple Pie (I’m terrible at making crusts lol but it’s still edible!)
Chocolate Cream Pie w/ Meringue (a friend is bringing that)
Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookies.


It is going to be a magnificent feast!
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