Turkey is the indisputable star of the holiday season. Nothing compares to a turkey with all the fixings on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.
However, put a smoked turkey on your table, and you will really get a reaction from your family and friends. They will be fascinated by the slightly darker golden color and the smoky flavor.
If you smoke a turkey, you’ve got to do it correctly by smoking it at the correct temperature. You can smoke your turkey at 300°F, and it will cook in as little as 2 1/2 hours.
Can I Smoke Frozen Turkey?
Technically speaking, you can smoke a frozen turkey. However, from a food safety standpoint, do not smoke frozen turkeys.
Frozen turkeys cook unevenly. The outside of the turkey will start cooking before the inside of the turkey.
By the time the outside of the turkey is cooked, the inside of the turkey will be dry. Furthermore, removing the turkey before the inside cooks completely could lead to food poisoning. So, do not cook frozen turkeys.
How To Choose a Turkey for Smoking
Before you can smoke a turkey, you must start with the right one. The number of guests determines the size of the turkey you need to smoke.
Plan for each person to consume 1 1/2 pounds of turkey, but you may need to increase the portion size to 2 pounds if you are feeding a big group.
This does not mean you should pick up the biggest turkey you see in the grocery store. Purchase an 8–16-pound turkey.
Turkeys that weigh more than 16 pounds are probably males. Male turkeys are less tender than female turkeys.
You can always buy 2-3 smaller turkeys if you plan to feed a large crowd. You can cook multiple turkeys simultaneously if they can fit into your smoker.
Alternatively, you can buy one turkey and a few pounds of turkey legs or breasts. However, remember that turkey parts will cook faster than the whole turkey.
You should also think about the quality of the turkey. Do not purchase turkeys with the terms basted or enhanced on the label.
These turkeys already have some form of seasoning. It’s easier to overseason the meat if you add more spices to the bird.
As I mentioned above, frozen turkeys are out of the question. Always buy a fresh turkey.
How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 300
It takes turkey approximately 20 minutes to smoke at 300°F. Therefore an 8-pound turkey will take about 2 1/2 hours. In contrast, an 11-pound turkey takes 3 1/2 hours, and a 16-pound turkey will take about 5 1/2 hours.
Although it will take much longer to smoke a 16-pound turkey at 300°F, do not increase the smoker’s temperature.
The higher the smoker’s temperature, the greater the risk of overcooking the turkey. If you want to speed up the cooking time, you can spatchcock (remove the spine and flatten it) the turkey before smoking it.
Do You Put Smoked Turkey in a Pan or on a Rack
You can put your turkey in a pan or a rack. You can put the turkey in a pan and place it on the cooking rack.
You can also place the turkey into a V-rack or directly onto the smoker’s cooking grates. But place a pan directly beneath the turkey to catch the drippings.
You can also place a pan of water a few inches from the pan to catch the drippings. It will add moisture to the bird.
How to Smoke Turkey in Cold Weather
Based on your location, you may have a white Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, just because it’s whiteout outside does not mean you cannot enjoy some delicious smoked turkey.
Since the air is much colder outside, it’s harder to control the smoker’s temperature. Nevertheless, you can still smoke the turkey in cold weather.
You can insulate your smoker. You can place a cardboard barrier around the smoker to block the cold air.
You can also add a wielding blanket to the smoker to help control the temperature. Lastly, you can build a plywood structure around the smoker and line it with insulation.
The goal is to protect your smoker from the harsh cold air. In addition to this, you will need more fuel to cook in cold weather. So, you may need twice the amount of coal or pellets to smoke your turkey.
Using an electric smoker or propane gas smoker, you won’t have to take as many precautions to protect the smoker.
The cold will not affect these smokers like charcoal or pellet smokers.
Smoking a turkey indoors may seem like a good idea, but do not smoke a turkey in the house. It will be extremely hard to get the smell out of your house.
What if My Turkey Is Cooking Too Fast
It may seem like a turkey cooking too fast is good. It is not necessarily a good thing. If the turkey is cooking too fast, it may overcook when the cooking time is finished.
Brined turkey will cook faster than unbrined turkey.
If your turkey is cooking too fast, try one of these methods to slow down the cooking process.
Turn the smoker down to a temperature between 225°F- 275°F. The lower temperature will slow down the cooking process.
Alternatively, if your bird is already at 160°F, remove the smoker and place it into a baking dish. Tent the turkey with foil.
Line a food-safe cooler with clean kitchen towels and place the turkey on the towels. The cooler will keep the turkey hot and prevent the turkey’s temperature from increasing. This way, the bird will still be moist and juicy.
Now that you have learned to how long to smoke a turkey at 300°F, you can say goodbye to dry, tough turkeys.
When you place the beautifully smoked turkey on the table, everyone will be talking about your turkey till next year.
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.