With Turkey Day fast approaching, you must start thinking about how you want to cook your turkey. If you’ve only had roasted turkey, you are missing out. These days it’s all about smoking a turkey.
However, you cannot smoke a turkey at any temperature. You must know how long to smoke turkey at 250°F before you smoke it. It takes about 6 hours to smoke an average turkey at 250°F.
Tips For Smoking A Turkey
Before you put the bird in the smoker, there are a few tips you should be aware of.
- Brining is an optional step but brine the turkey if you can. You can use a wet brine r a dry brine. Either way, it will add so much flavor to the turkey. Brining will also help it stay moist and juicy.
- Smear butter all over and underneath the turkey skin. The butter will melt, turning the turkey’s skin a beautiful shade of gold.
- Put your turkey on a V-rack. A V rack is a V-shaped roasting rack designed for cooking poultry in a smoker or grill. The V-rack will make transferring the turkey in and out of the smoker easier. If you place the turkey directly onto the grill, it may fall apart because it is so tender when you try to remove it with a pair of tongs.
- Once the turkey is in the smoker, do not open the smoker. Opening the smoker causes temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations can lengthen the smoking process, so do not open the smoker unless you add more fuel or check the bird’s temperature.
- Do not overcook the turkey. Thermometers help you take the bird out of the smoker at the right time. You can use a double-probe smoker thermometer to keep track of the turkey’s temperature and the smoker’s ambient temperature.
- Remove the turkey from the smoker when it is 5-7 degrees below the recommended temperature. Turkey continues to cook once you remove it from the smoker, so it will have the recommended safe temperature when it is ready to eat.
- Let the smoked turkey rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. Resting the turkey prevents its juices from spilling all over your butcher block. If there aren’t any juices in the turkey, it will be dry, so let the turkey rest.
How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 250
How long to smoke a turkey at 250°F depends on many factors. For example, the type of thermometer you use could affect the cooking time.
If you are using your smoker’s built-in thermometer, it may give you an inaccurate reading. That’s why you should invest in a smoker thermometer.
How many times you open the smokers to add wood chips or fuel, baste the turkey, or measure its temperature cook also affects the cooking time. Opening the smoker can add up to 15 minutes of additional cooking time.
The wind may also impact the cooking time. If it is windy, keeping your smoker at a consistent temperature may be harder.
The turkey’s size can also impact the cooking time. Large turkeys will take longer to cook.
Nevertheless, it takes about 6 hours to cook an average turkey. However, if your turkey is larger or smaller than the average turkey, it will take 25-30 minutes per pound.
How Long Should I Smoke a 20 Pound Turkey at 250°F
As I mentioned above, cooking a turkey takes 25-30 minutes per pound. So a 20-pound turkey will take 8 1/2-10 hours to cook.
Since you are working with a bigger bird, it’s best to maintain a temperature that’s between 225°F and 250°F. The turkey needs to pass through the temperature danger zone (40°F-140°F) in 4 hours.
If the turkey does not make it out of this stage, it could cause food poisoning if it is eaten. At 250°F, the bird has enough time to make it past the temperature danger zone and still remains juicy and delicious.
If you are worried that a smoked 20-pound turkey is safe to eat, you can cook a smaller turkey. Nevertheless, as long the temperature is high enough, you can cook a 20-pound bird.
Alternatively, you can also partially smoke the turkey in your smoker. You can finish cooking the turkey in the oven to finish cooking. Partially smoking the turkey imparts a smoky flavor. Finishing the cook in the oven ensures the turkey gets out of the temperature danger zone within 4 hours.
Can I Smoke Turkey Overnight?
Yes, you can smoke turkey overnight. Six hours is a long time. Moreover, if you’ve got a big turkey, you will smoke the bird for at least 8-10 hours. That’s a whole night of sleep.
This method will give you more time to focus on side dishes or setting the table. But most importantly, your turkey will be finished by dinner time. So, smoking the bird at night may be the better option if you’ve got a larger bird.
Additionally, you will be less likely to open the smoker’s door since you will be asleep. As mentioned, temperature fluctuations lengthen the cooking time, so you are allowing the turkey to cook undisturbed using this method.
If you are smoking the turkey overnight, set the smoker’s temperature between 225°F-250°F. To smoke your turkey overnight, set up your smoker and preheat it.
Next, place the turkey onto a V-rack and place it into the smoker before you go to bed. Record the time you placed the turkey into the smoker and set the alarm for 8-10 hours later.
It’s best to check the turkey’s temperature after 8 hours. However, only smoke the bird for 10 hours. After ten hours, all, if not most, of the moisture will evaporate, leaving you with a dry, overcooked, tough turkey.
Smoking a turkey takes a long time. However, it is worth it. The smoky flavor is simply unbelievable.
Once you give yourself enough time to smoke the turkey at 250°F, you should have a moist, juicy turkey. Lastly, to prevent it from overcooking, remember to smoke it for 6-10 hours.
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.