Turkey is synonymous with the holiday season. Can you think of a better way to celebrate the joyous holiday season than with a beautifully smoked turkey? I think not.
A smoked turkey will brighten up your holiday spread, whether it is Christmas or Thanksgiving.
However, when smoking a turkey, you must ask how long to smoke the bird. It takes about 8-12 hours to smoke a turkey at 225°F. Knowing the cooking prevents you from eating raw or overcooked turkey.
Can I Stuff a Smoked Turkey?
While some believe it is ok to stuff a smoked turkey, I advise against it. The stuffing must reach an internal temperature of 165°F. The bird must also reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
When the stuffing inside the turkey finally reaches the correct temperature, the bird will probably be overcooked. Therefore, it’s best to cook the stuffing separately. This way, the bird stays moist and juicy.
You can always add herbs, onions, apples, or citrus to the cavity to give the bird additional flavor. However, do not overfill the cavity. Air needs to circulate so the bird can cook evenly.
Additionally, discard any vegetables you stuffed the cavity with once it is finished cooking.
How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 225
As I stated above, it takes about 8-12 hours to smoke a turkey at 225°F. However, the cooking time may differ depending on the size of the turkey. For example, it takes about 5 hours to smoke a 10-pound turkey.
Either way, you should check your turkey after 3 1/2 hours. The turkey must pass through the temperature danger zone (40°F-140°F) within 4 hours.
After 4 hours, so many pathogenic bacteria will develop on the turkey that it is unsafe to eat. If you eat the turkey, it could make you sick. So you will have to discard the turkey if it is not above the temperature danger zone after 4 hours.
The turkey’s final temperature should be 180° F when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
How Long to Smoke a 15 LB Turkey at 225
It takes 30 minutes per pound to smoke turkey at 225°F. Therefore, it will take about 7 1/2-8 hours to smoke a 15-pound turkey at 225°F.
What Type of Wood Is Best for Smoking Turkey?
The type of wood for smoking turkey depends on the flavor you want your turkey to have. Cherry wood or apple wood imparts a mild flavor to the turkey.
In contrast, pecan wood gives it a nutty flavor. Maple wood provides the bird with a mellow sweet flavor.
You can use hickory if you want your turkey to have a dominant smoky flavor. It is mild enough to give the turkey a pronounced flavor but not so strong that it overpowers its mild flavor.
Tips for Smoking a Turkey
When smoking turkey, it is essential to maintain a stable low temperature. This means no opening the lid or door to take a peak at the bird.
Every time you open the cooking chamber, heat escapes. It takes a few minutes for the smoker to return to the correct temperature. So, opening the smoker constantly adds more time to the cooking time.
You should only open the smoker to check the bird’s temperature or add more wood chips to the wood chip box. Otherwise, keep the smoker closed.
Turkey can release a lot of juices. Before you add the turkey to the smoke, add 2-cups of water to a foil pan. The water will prevent the turkey’s juices from evaporating during cooking.
Place the foil pan beneath the cooking grate. Add the cooking grates to the smoker and place the turkey directly above the foil pan.
The foil pan will catch the turkey’s juices, preventing them from creating a gigantic mess. You can use the turkey drippings to make gravy for your delicious smoked turkey.
Coat the turkey skin with butter before you smoke it. The butter will help crisp up the skin.
How to Smoke a Turkey
Now that you know how long to cook a turkey at 225°F, let’s discuss how to smoke a turkey.
First, preheat your smoker. The secret to smoking turkey is smoking the turkey with indirect heat. Smokers are designed to use indirect heat for cooking food.
However, if you use a grill, you need to preheat it differently.Turn on half the grill burners if you use a gas grill. Leave the remaining burners off and let it preheat until it reaches 225°F.
Preheat your coals in a chimney starter if you use a charcoal grill. Once the coals ash over, pour them on one side of the grill. Open the grill vents about 25% and let it preheat.
If you use an offset grill, electric grill, or pellet smoker, simply preheat it to 225°F.
Once your smoker is preheated, place the turkey into the smoker. If you are smoking the turkey on a grill, place it on the cool side of the grill.
Cook the turkey for 8-12 hours until it has a temperature of 160°F. Note charcoal and gas grills have slightly higher temperatures than smokers. So, you will have to rotate the bird 3-4 times during the smoking process.
Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the smoker and place it onto a butcher block. Loosely cover the turkey with foil if desired.
The condensation from the foil may soften the skin. However, you can broil the turkey for 1-2 minutes until the skin crisps back up.
Do not walk away from the turkey once you place it in the broiler. It only takes a second, and your turkey will be burnt.
Let the bird rest for 15-30 minutes. Next, carve the turkey and serve it to your dinner guests.
Smoking A turkey is the perfect way to bring holiday cheer to your dinner table. Now that you know how long to smoke a turkey at 225°F, you can say goodbye to dry or raw turkeys.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.