Thanksgiving dinner and BBQ parties are incomplete without cooking a turkey. People mainly prepare it by roasting it in an oven or smoking it inside a smoker.
Both are great options, but smoking provides better results in terms of smoky flavors, tenderness, and juices.
On average, smoking a turkey at 300 °F takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours, though the exact time depends on the weight of your turkey.
This article has everything you need to know about how long to smoke a turkey at 300 °F. I will also share the tips and tricks for smoking a turkey like a pro. So, follow our guidelines to surprise your friends and family by preparing a delicious smoked turkey.
How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 300 °F?
There are several factors that play an important role in determining the duration of smoking your turkey, such as its weight and the type of smoker you will use.
You need to smoke a turkey for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 300 degrees. For instance, if you have a 10-pound turkey, it will require 2.5 to 3.5 hours to get cooked perfectly and to reach the ideal internal temperature of 165 °F in the thickest part of its breast.
You can also use a water pan inside your smoker to keep the hot air moist.
Moreover, I would encourage you to let the turkey rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. It will allow your smoked bird to distribute the juices evenly and become juicier.
Keep in mind that not all smokers have similar features and functionalities, making it clear that they may require slightly different cooking times.
Here, what’s the essential thing is the meat’s safest internal temperature. As soon as it reaches the scale of 165 °F, your smoked turkey is ready to come out of the smoker.
Smoking Time Based On Turkey Weight
Let me share the smoking time required for brisket based on its weight. But remember, these stats can also vary depending on the type of smoker you use.
|Turkey Weight||Required Smoking Time|
|8 – 12 lbs||2 to 4 hours|
|12 – 16 lbs||3 to 5.5 hours|
|16 – 20 lbs||4 to 6.5 hours|
|20 – 24 lbs||6 to 8.5 hours|
What Turkey to Choose for Smoking?
Choosing the right turkey before smoking is as important as any other step in the cooking process to ensure a perfect taste and rich smoky flavors from each bite.
Firstly, the size and weight will decide how many people you can serve at once. Therefore, you should always know the number of people that are going to be at the dinner and then choose turkey accordingly.
Suppose you have to feed 10 of your friends or family members. On average, you will need a 20-pound turkey, 2 pounds for each person.
If you plan to prepare more flavorful, tendered, and juicy turkey, I will suggest you to buy 2 of them weighing 10 pounds.
The reason is that a whole turkey with 16 pounds weight or more is usually male, while a female turkey weighs less and is more suitable for tendering.
The other important consideration is buying a fresh turkey, not a frozen one, because it may result in food poisoning.
Also, you will come across some turkeys with enhanced or basted tags. Skip them if you like seasoning your foods yourself. They come pre-brined, if you season them further, you may not achieve the desired taste.
So, here arises another question. Can you smoke a frozen turkey? The answer to this question is, “You can, but you should not.”
The reason is apparent, smoking is done at a lower smoker temperature, and smoking a whole turkey can take 12 hours. On the other hand, smoking a turkey at higher temp does not provide a ideal taste and flavor.
You can now imagine how long smoking a frozen turkey will take in a smoker. Still, the results won’t be as beneficial.
Check this out: Can you grill frozen chicken
Turkey Preparation Before Smoking
Preparing the whole turkey nicely before smoking is the first step for achieving a delicious and fully cooked whole bird. Here’s what you must do to ensure your turkey is fully ready to enter the smoker.
The first and foremost step in preparation is thawing the whole turkey, in which you need to place it inside the refrigerator until it is completely thawed. This process can take several days, depending on the size and quality of the turkey.
Brining is an essential step to perform if you like moisture and flavors in your food. So, you need to make a saltwater solution and keep your turkey inside it for around 8-18 hours, depending on weight.
Although seasoning is one of the most important things, you can do it to your preferences. Start the seasoning process when the bird is dried to get a crispy skin. You can use paper towels for drying.
Typically, people season the turkey with salt and pepper, and this combination provides extraordinary results. You can also go with garlic, spices, or herbs per your requirements.
Ensure you have entirely seasoned it from the top, between turkey legs and wings, and underneath. Once seasoned properly, let the bird rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to ensure even cooking.
Should You Spatchcock Turkey Before Smoking?
Butterflying or spatchcocking is a technique in which you remove the backbone of a turkey and flatten it into almost two pieces. This is not only suitable for turkeys but also for other meats like chicken and fish.
Spatchcocking your meats before the smoking process is your personal choice. Two of the most significant advantages of this process is that it allows for even cooking and smoking in a comparatively shorter time.
So, if you like turkey cooking too fast, you can choose this option.
Setting Up the Smoker Before Placing Turkey
Your smoker should be in a suitable condition before you place the turkey on its grates. There are a few tips and steps that you need to follow. Let me share them one by one.
- Preheating the smoker: The first and foremost step is to preheat your smoker to 225 °F – 250 °F. It can take 15-30 minutes, depending on what type of smoker you are using. For example, pellet and electric smokers are usually ready to smoke in 15 minutes.
- Adding right wood chips: Different types of wood chunks will provide different results, especially in terms of flavors. Among several options, the best woods for smoked turkey are hickory, maple wood, cherry, and pecan wood.
- Oiling the grates: To prevent food stickiness, I recommend you oil the grates before you start smoking. It will also make cleaning easier afterward, which annoys many of us.
- Use drip pan: The pan usually goes underneath the cooking grates. It catches the fats and drips from the food. As a result, the chances of flare-ups or fires are zero to none.
How to Know When Turkey is Done?
First thing first, when you have a smoked turkey, it’s essential to make sure it’s safe to eat before thinking of the taste, tenderness, and flavors. Here’s how to check if it is done and ready to serve.
The best way to determine the status is to know internal temp of a smoked turkey. The safest smoked turkey internal temperature is 165 °F in its thickest part, 170 °F in the turkey breast, and 180 °F in the thighs.
To check if it has reached the desired temperature, use a digital meat thermometer that provides accurate results.
Tips for Smoking Turkey
There are a few expert tips that you should follow to get more efficient results, such as taste, flavors, and crispiness.
Keep the Steady Temperature
If you have chosen 300 °F to smoke your bird, keep this smoker temperature throughout the cooking process.
It requires expertise, like adding the required amount of wood, controlling the temperature, and adjusting the airflow. You may find it challenging, especially when using charcoal and offset smokers.
You might also like: If you are a newbie and fond of preparing turkey through smoking, I have the list of best smokers for beginners that can help you smoke a mouth-watering and flavorful turkey.
Using a Water Pan
It is not an essential step to perform, but if it is cold outside, a water pan can be a stuiable option for keeping the same temperature until your smoking session is done.
It is not only good for regulating the heat but also for creating a friendly smoking environment by producing steam and moisture.
Eelctric smokers are usually designed for placing water pan in there and are a great option to smoke turkey. If you are tight with your budget, there are several best electric smokers under 500 that you can explore.
Don’t Overseason Turkey
You can make turkey juicier and tender by trying different seasonings because it is a versatile meat. Well, you need to ensure you don’t overload it to get the same flavorful outcome.
The most straightforward option here is to make a combination of salt and pepper and rub it all over your bird. You can add other light seasonings as well, like garlic and herbs.
Pink Turkey is Acceptable too
Many people have misconceptions about pink meat, but it is safe to eat as long as its internal temperature is 165 °F. So, you should be focused on the safest internal temperature, not the color.
You can also read the guidelines of USDA in this matter, where they have clarified that it’s the temperature, not the color of the meat, that determines if it’s safe to eat.
A turkey smoked with care and patience promises a mouth-watering taste, delightful smoky flavors, tenderness, juiciness inside, and crispy exterior.
I have provided all the information regarding how long to smoke a turkey at 300. You can now confidently achieve desired results by following the tips and guidelines I have shared.
I hope you will enjoy a perfect smoking turkey session.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the unsafe internal temperature for smoking a turkey?
If the internal temperature of your turkey is below 165 °F, it is unsafe to eat because it won’t properly eliminate the harmful bacteria from the bird. Also, use a meat thermometer that tells you the accurate temperature.
Should you use soaked wood when smoking turkey?
I don’t recommend it because you don’t need to. Soaked wood chips will produce steam and can expand the cooking time, and they won’t produce the required level of smoke unless all moisture inside them is gone.
How long to smoke a 20lb turkey at 300 °F?
If you wish to smoke a 20 lb turkey at 300 °F, you can expect the smoking session to be 5 to 6.5 hours longer, considering that per pound takes 15 to 20 minutes of smoking.
How long does it take to smoke a whole turkey at 300 degrees?
A whole turkey can be available in different sizes and weights, but generally, it requires 3.5 to 4 hours of smoking until your turkey reaches the internal temperature of 165 °F, which is the recommended minimal safest temperature.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.