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Smoking A Whole Turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by 45freedom, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. sgilbert2

    sgilbert2 Newbie

    Do you think the whole turkey needs the 4-5 hours smoking, or something less?
  2. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Not necessarily, the amount of smoke is really your preference. I start and finish my turkeys on the smoker, but I don't see anything wrong with your idea.
  3. cpeezy

    cpeezy Newbie

    What temperature do you cook at for a whole turkey? 

    I am also smoking a 5 lb prime rib at the same time. 

  4. quigon73

    quigon73 Newbie

    Although late to the party, I'm in the similar boat as the Freedom45:
    I have a masterbuilt 30", and I'm going to be smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving, but my questions center on the wood and how much to use, as it is my understanding that too much smoke can create an overpowering bitter taste in turkey.
    I'm doing a trial smoke tomorrow so my family is not left hungry on Thanksgiving, and I have a 13lbs turkey in a brine now.
    My question is, once I get the smoker up to temperature (275°F) and put the bird in, how much wood do I use over the course of the entire smoking process? I'm using Applewood and will be assuming an hour per pound of turkey. I will remove the bird at an internal temp of 160°F, and the wrap in foil until it reaches an internal temp 165°F.
    My smoker is new, so I've only preseasoned it to this point, but I have noticed that it can only hold a cup of wood at any one time. Is this enough wood for the entire smoking process? If not, when should I add more wood and how much wood should I add? Should the wood be soaked in water?
    I'm also interested in understanding how the water pan fits into the equation. Should it be filled with water? Something else that would add more flavor? Does it need to be refilled during the course of the smoking process?
    Any and all help is appreciated.
  5. you are correct, too much smoke can create an overpowering bitter taste in ANYTHING.  I call it the ashtray effect.

    I personally like to cook poultry at more like 325-350*F to crisp the skin.  275*F yields a rubbery skin IMHO.  I also did not use water because it holds temps down.  Adding flavor liquids probably doesn't do much but some folks really like to add stuff to the water pan.

    I've also never had a turkey go as long as an hour per lb.  I did a 23# turkey last year on the WSM and it took ~ 6 hrs. (For some reason I thought it took much less time but I referred back to my cook log for that cook and it says it went 6 hrs.)

    Generally, I plan smoke to be added for about half the planned time of the cook.  In this case the first three hours.  However, I doubt I added that much smoke.  I generally throw a chunk on and when there's no smoke I may add another chunk and I may not.
  6. I think part of the process for people new to smoking (and I count myself in that group) is to figure out how much smoke is the right amount.  I'm finding that for myself and my family a lesser amount of smoke flavor tastes good, and that it doesn't take much for the smoke to start being overpowering for us.  I'm now factoring that in as I look through recipes and recommendations on this forum and other places.

    I'll be doing a turkey this Thanksgiving, too, and plan to do a test next weekend.  I'll be brining and setting the smoker up at 325 without water in the pan.  I'll be using charcoal and wood chunks, so it's easier for me to get the the higher temperatures.  Even with that, I know I only need a couple of hours of smoke on the bird, so I'll be pulling and finishing in the oven until it gets to temperature.

    There are some purists that would never consider doing that, but I personally don't have a problem with it.  For me, once you're done with the smoke the meat doesn't know if the heat is coming from s smoker or an oven.  And I know for our tastes that to put smoke to the bird for the entire time is too much.
  7. Great plan WaywardSwede.  Although I would consider that the oven is going to be some valuable real estate come Thanksgiving day.  Pies, Stuffing, Casseroles, etc will all compete for that space.  One advantage to smoking the bird is to free up the oven for other morsels.  I would take that into consideration on your test run to see how your pit can do under the full cook time.
  8. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I di like smoked turkey be sure and share some pictures.

  9. Bama, when we bought our house it had an electric oven / range, which we didn't like.  So we replaced it with a gas unit, and I put the electric in the basement.  We only use it 4 or 5 times a year, but we could not live without it now.  This year we got the extra fridge in the garage, and already can't live without that.  Especially now that it's going to be filled with bacon, ham and sausage curing all the time! 
  10. Ah ha! Now I'm pickin up what you're lain down.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  11. Does anyone stuff their birds while smoking? The best birds I ever smoked were ones I had soaked in a homemade banana wine. And stuffed with quartered apples and celery sticks. All soaked in the wine. And the wine was added to the water pan. Was done in a brinkman charcoal smoker. 12 hours for a 12 lb bird. Using a mix of Apple wood and hickory. Light on the hickory. When the pan would get low. I would pour more of the wine over the top of the bird. Filling the pan back up.

    The apples and celery stuffing seemed to keep the bird more moist. I also chopped them up and made an actual stuffing with them. Good stuffs.

    Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
  12. I prefer not to stuff a turkey to ensure I get to 140*F in less than 4 hours.  The stuffing blocks the air circulation in the cavity that can prevent that.  Also, Butterball (IMHO the authority on how to cook a turkey) recommends not stuffing a smoked turkey.

    Your wine method sounds very interesting!
  13. I don't stuff it completely full. And they are large chunks. So its not the same as regular stuffing. There is some breathing room there.

    I tried a sweet Apple wine the first go. It didn't turn out that great. But the dry banana wine worked really good. So if I was to try it again. I would go with a dry white wine.

    Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
  14. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member


     you should use a palm full of chips every 45 min - 1 hour. As long as you smell smoke you are smoking
  15. bargie

    bargie Newbie

    I recently did the same thing and marinated mine in Spiedie sauce for two day's prior to smoking. 

    I doubled wrapper the bird in two 8 gallon garbage bags after pouring the sauce in and squeezing

    all the air out of the bag.  The turkey took on just enough flavor from the marinate and smoke, but

    it wasn't over powering.  I too, cooked my turkey for approx. 6 hours and took it out at about 175.

    Once we were done with dinner I stripped the carcas and made turkey salad which was excellent.

    I have a question:  Is it possible to  over smoke meat to the point where it won't penetrate any more and create a smoke ring? 

     I'm fairly new to smoking and used Hickory chips this time.  I smoked the turkey for the first 4 hours and it looked fantastic, but

    it only had a faint taste of smoke when we ate it.  I din't mind it because the taste of the turkey shown through, but I feel like my

    smoking technique is wrong.  Any suggestions to enhance the penetration of the smoke?
  16. drheat

    drheat Newbie

    Hey, you guys need to try put'n the turkey in a 5gal bucket, cut a couple of oranges in half squeeze um thro peels in bucket fill to top with 2liter bottles of 7up cover with lid 2days before turkey smoken time . best tasten smoked turkey ever no bull.
  17. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower

    I new to this as well..two questions. water in the water pan or no? soak the wood chips or dry?  Well, maybe three questions, hickory, mesquite, alder, cherry or apple wood? I usually use hickory on red meats and mesquite on poultry. I haven't tried any of the others but from what I read, they all have their subtle differences and the fruit wood is milder..This will be my first turkey using my MES electric smoker so the more advice the better. I'm pretty much decided on brining and will most likely try Tips brine as many of you have recommended. Thanks.
  18. When you say "Lay Off" the salt in the brine for a pre-treated turkey, exactly how much do you mean?  Eliminate the Kosher salt in the Slaughterhouse recipe all together?  Or cut it in half?

    Doing my first smoked turkey this week, and using the good info on this and another forum.  Just don't want it to be too salty!
  19. I too am new to smoking. I have a Traeger Lil Tex Elite. My wife bought a 17 pound(a bit big in my opinion) turkey. Brined it overnight and was going to smoke it for 4 hrs and then cook it at 350 until the breast is 160 degrees (budgeting 8 hours all in). Any suggestions of thoughts on this idea?
  20. I know, my lack of planning does not constitute anyone else's emergency... but I too am curious if I should soak my wood chips, and if I should put anything in the water pan. I have a Masterbuild 30" electric smoker that I have used 2 times (pork shoulder and ribs) and although they were very tasty, I found them both to be a bit tough. I am having a hard time finding recipes/guides for my smoker. I just stumbled upon this site today because of this topic, and I hope to perfect this machine while Im here.

    PS Im am planning on putting the 11# turkey in the brine tonight (using the recommended Tip's brine)