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Whole Turkey Smoke Questions


Joined Jun 25, 2012
Hey everybody.  There are a bunch of threads that I have come across for smoking a whole turkey, but I can't seem to find the answers to my specific questions before I get started doing one!  My family wants me to do one for Christmas this year so I want to run a few trials first!  This will be in a 30" Electric Smoker.

Here's my specific questions:
  • If I have a 15lb bird how long does it need to brine for?  Do I put it in the brine right out of the freezer and just let it thaw in there?
  • How many hours per pound will a turkey take?  I thought I saw somewhere that it's 40 minutes per pound, but that seems way too long considering I just saw somebody say a 23# took 6 hours.  I don't want to start it way too early or too late!
  • Recommended smoker temperature?  I'd like it to be a little crisp on the outside but I don't want it to open like the Turkey on 'National Lampoons Christmas Vacation'.
Any help is greatly appreciated folks, you guys are the best!


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Mar 11, 2010
There are so many ways to do a turkey.......in fact I've changed how I do them a few times. For the last two years, and this year, I will be doing 3 birds at about 16 to 18 lb range. I will brine them over night after a full thaw in the refer. I find that a slow thaw gives better meat texture. Then it is into the smoker at 325* for about 4 hours......give or take. I will use lump for overall heat with a little oak and some peach wood.

Hope this helps you......



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
Joined Nov 18, 2010
There are many ways to smoke a turkey as previously stated...to answer your questions:

- Usually brining is a 24 hour process, some people will do 24-48 hours. I would mix up the brine and stick it in freezer to get cooler quicker but not frozen, then stick turkey in and put in fridge, covered. The basic principle is that you want the water cold so that the warm water doesnt bring the turkey up to a unsafe temperature.

- hours per pound dont really work (in my opinion for poultry as it does for beef/pork). Generally turkeys that are 15-20lbs take between 4-6 hours, but you need to closely monitor temps. smaller turkeys can take much less. I've done a 14lber in 4 hours. 

- I've smoked anywhere between 250-350..depends how high  you can get your smoker. Under 250 is useless and could potentially be unsafe as your turkey might not get to temp quick enough. Poultry doesn't need to be broken down low and slow like large cuts of beef and pork that have alot of fat and muscle to break down

If it were me...i'd brine for 24 hours, get smoker up to 300 and put turkey in, leave alone for 4 hours then check breast and thigh/legs and see what temp your at

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