How Long to Smoke a Turkey per Pound: A Comprehensive Guide

This recipe for smoked turkey consists of coating an entire turkey with a homemade spice rub and slow-smoking it until it is perfectly juicy and tender. An incredibly simple and elegant main dish for the holidays that doesn’t require any oven space!

Looking for something a little different from your typical roasted turkey? This smoked turkey is a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving dish that looks stunning and is so easy to make even a non-cook can create a beautiful and delectable masterpiece. Present your turkey with a homemade cranberry sauce and observe the positive feedback that follows!

Although I enjoy cooking turkey for the holidays, I dislike how much oven space it takes up on the big day. Now that I’ve started smoking my turkey instead of roasting it, the outcome is simply amazing.

Smoking a turkey is a delicious and flavorful way to prepare the bird for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, achieving perfect results requires paying close attention to cooking time and temperature. This guide will provide you with expert advice on how long to smoke a turkey per pound, ensuring a juicy and tender bird that will impress your guests.

Smoking Time and Temperature:

General Guidelines:

  • 225-250°F: This is the optimal temperature range for smoking a turkey, as it allows for slow and even cooking while retaining moisture.
  • 30 minutes per pound: This is a general guideline for smoking time at 225-250°F. However, some experts recommend 45 minutes to an hour per pound for a more flavorful result.

Specific Smoking Times:

Turkey Weight (lbs) Smoking Time (hours)
10 5
12 6
14 7
16 8
18 9
20 10
22 11
24 12

Expert Opinions:

  • Myron Mixon (competition pitmaster): “Plan on about 45 minutes to an hour of smoking time per pound of turkey.”
  • Chris Lilly (competition pitmaster): “Aim for a temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and smoke the turkey for about 30 minutes per pound.”
  • Aaron Franklin (competition pitmaster): “A well-brined turkey will have a moist, flavorful finished product.”
  • Bobby Flay (celebrity chef): “One of the keys to smoking a delicious turkey is to use a dry rub to add flavor to the meat.”
  • Steven Raichlen (BBQ expert): “To get that perfect smoky flavor in your turkey, make sure to use a good quality wood.”
  • Gordon Ramsay (celebrity chef): “For a perfectly cooked smoked turkey, you’ll want to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the bird reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”
  • Jamie Purviance (grilling expert): “To keep the turkey moist while smoking, try using a spritzer bottle filled with water and apple cider vinegar.”
  • Tyler Florence (celebrity chef): “Basting the skin regularly will keep it from drying out and add flavor.”
  • Adam Perry Lang (BBQ expert): “Applying a dry rub to the skin and placing the turkey in the smoker breast-side down for the first hour of cooking will give you a crispy skin.”
  • Emeril Lagasse (celebrity chef): “Brining the turkey for at least 12 hours before smoking will ensure a moist and flavorful bird.”
  • Tom Colicchio (celebrity chef): “A combination of oak and hickory wood will give your turkey a deep, smoky flavor.”
  • Mario Batali (celebrity chef): “Adding a mixture of herbs and butter under the skin before smoking will enhance the flavor.”
  • Guy Fieri (celebrity chef): “Basting the bird regularly with a mixture of butter and your favorite BBQ sauce will add extra flavor and moisture.”

Additional Tips:

  • Brining: Brining the turkey before smoking is highly recommended. This will help to keep the meat moist and flavorful.
  • Spatchcocking: Spatchcocking the turkey (removing the backbone) will help it cook more evenly.
  • Positioning: Place the turkey with the breast away from the heat source if possible.
  • Internal Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F in the breast and 175°F in the thigh.
  • Basting: Baste the turkey regularly with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar or your favorite BBQ sauce to keep it moist.
  • Crispy Skin: Apply a dry rub to the skin and place the turkey in the smoker breast-side down for the first hour of cooking for a crispy skin.
  • Wood Choice: Use a good quality wood like pecan, cherry, or hickory for a delicious smoky flavor.

Smoking a turkey is an art that requires patience and attention to detail. By following these guidelines and expert advice you can achieve a perfectly cooked juicy, and flavorful turkey that will be the star of your holiday feast. Remember to adjust the cooking time based on the size of your turkey and your desired level of smokiness.

Tips for the best smoked turkey

  • I find that leaving the turkey in the disposable pan while it smokes makes cleanup much simpler than moving it straight onto the rack.
  • A probe thermometer is a must-have when making smoked turkey. Always go by the temperature rather than the cooking time because smokers can occasionally have inconsistent temperatures.
  • I usually use an electric smoker because I find they are easy to use, even for complete novices, and they regulate heat well.

how long smoke turkey per pound

Starting early in the day will ensure that the turkey is finished by dinnertime because smoking a turkey can take a while. A medium-sized turkey requires at least five hours to smoke at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. To cook a turkey, allow it to cook for approximately 25-30 minutes per pound. Depending on the kind of smoker you’re using and how well it maintains a constant temperature, this timing may change. The best way to determine when the turkey is done is to use a thermometer, not a clock.

I enjoy smoking poultry with apple wood because it adds a subtle sweetness to the meat. Apple wood is readily available in most stores. Other great choices are cherry wood or hickory.

When a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the turkey is done. I use a digital thermometer that I leave in the turkey while it smokes so that I can use a temperature remote from inside the house to keep an eye on its progress.

Since nobody likes a dry turkey, I prefer to baste my smoked turkey, sometimes adding a little chicken broth while it cooks to keep the turkey moist. If your turkey has already been brined, you can omit the basting step.

Assuming one pound of turkey per person will help you determine the approximate size of turkey you will need. Aim for 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person if you want a lot of leftovers.

how long smoke turkey per pound

This recipe tastes great just the way it is, but if you’d like, you can alter the flavors to suit your preferences.

  • Spice Rub: If you’re not in the mood for barbecue, this recipe also tastes great with blackened, Creole, or Cajun seasoning.
  • Brine: You can vary the taste of the brine by adding different fruits, like pears or apples, or utilizing different herbs and honey as a sweetener.
  • Stuffing: You can try other ingredients like apples, a halved head of garlic, carrots, orange slices, or leeks instead of stuffing the bird with onion and lemon.

The outcome is a flavorful, juicy, and tender turkey that is exquisitely browned. A smoked turkey is always a good choice, and I appreciate that it clears up some oven space so I can bake the sides and desserts for the big feast.

How do you smoke a turkey?

If brining, immerse the turkey in the brine mixture two days prior to cooking. Preheat your smoker with the wood of your choice. Tuck the turkey’s wings under the bird and place it in a disposable aluminum pan. After adding the onion, lemon, and herbs to the turkey’s cavity, fasten the legs together with twine. Apply the barbecue sauce all over the turkey’s exterior. After moving the pan of turkey to the smoker, cook it, bashing it periodically, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the turkey rest, then carve it and serve.

how long smoke turkey per pound

How long do you smoke a turkey breast per pound?


Is it better to smoke a turkey at 225 or 250?

When smoking at 225°F, it can take about 30 to 45 minutes to cook one pound of turkey. That means a 12-pound turkey should take at least six hours to cook in a smoker. To smoke your turkey faster, increase the smoker’s temperature to 250°F to 275°F.

How long to smoke a 15 lb turkey at 250 degrees?

Smoking a turkey can be a long process, so be sure to start early in the day so that the turkey will be done by dinner time. Typically, it takes at least 5 hours to smoke an average sized turkey at 250 degrees F. Plan on having your turkey cook for about 25-30 minutes per pound.

How long to smoke a 20lb turkey at 225?

Set the smoker to 225° F. Place the turkey on a cooking rack and cook for 8 to 12 hours or until the inner thigh temperature reaches 180° F. Check the temperature of your turkey after 3½ hours. Your turkey must pass through a critical range of 40° F to 140° F in 4 hours or less.

Is a 20 lb turkey too big to smoke?

In fact, it might be best to avoid smoking big birds (say, 20 pounds), because the increased time required could increase your risk of the bacteria issues we noted above. We’d recommend adding a pan of water as well, to help keep the smoking chamber moist.

How long does it take to smoke a 20 pound turkey?

This includes the size of the turkey, the temperature of the smoker, the type of smoker, and the smoker’s experience. However, you should generally allow about 30-40 minutes of smoking per pound if you use lower temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, it will generally take 10 to 12 hours to smoke a 20-pound turkey completely.

How long do you cook a Turkey in a smoker?

As a quick tip, we recommend taking the turkey of the grill our out of the smoker when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. It will continue to cook while it rests, leaving it exactly at the safe temperature of 165°F by the time you are ready to dig in Set smoker to 240°F. Cook 30-40 minutes per pound.

Can you smoke a 15 lb Turkey?

The reason I recommend avoiding smoking a turkey over 15 pounds is that it can take too long to cook. Your bird will be sitting in the food safety danger zone between 40-140 degrees F for too long, and you risk bacteria overgrowing and spoiling your turkey before it is finished. It’s best to cook 2-3 smaller turkeys versus a large one.

What temperature should a Turkey be smoked at?

When smoking a turkey, it’s important to keep the temperature low and slow. Chris Lilly, competition pitmaster and BBQ expert, recommends a temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and smoking the turkey for about 30 minutes per pound.

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