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How long to smoke a 20lb turkey?

 
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Clob



Joined: 01 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02 14 8:07 am    Post subject: How long to smoke a 20lb turkey? Reply with quote

First time poster but I've been reading this forum occasionally for the last couple of years. Lots of good stuff. And good recipes.

My question: How long should it take to smoke a 20 lb turkey?

I've read things on other sites that it might take 30-40 minutes per pound at 225. I've discovered that isn't true. I've smoked two turkeys in the last year and they haven't taken NEARLY that long.

Case in point, the last one I did, I put it on the smoker at noon, assuming it'd be done around 7:30-ish. It was done at 4:30. I ended up having to wrap it up in a cooler until everything else was done for dinner.

Both turkeys were great but it just kind of sucks preparing the rest of the dinner when you have no clue how long it should take.

The background:

-Both were done on Masterbuilt electric smokers which were set to 225 (two different smokers so the temp isn't off in one of them).

-I always brine the turkey the night before which I know speeds up the cooking time but it shouldn't make a difference of many hours.

-I use a good digital thermometer that I put in the bird when it goes in the oven or smoker so I can watch the temp rise and get a good idea of when it will be done. I take it out when it hits 160 in the breast and let it sit for at least thirty minutes.

I've cooked a lot of turkeys on Weber grills and in the oven and have a good idea how long they will take. I'm usually not off by more than 15-30 minutes. However, the smoker has thrown me for a loop. Just wondering because I'm doing another one for a family get together next weekend.

Any ideas?
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fish&q
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02 14 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would not smoke a 20lb turkey low and slow for health reasons. I try to cook no more than a 14lb turkey between 275-325
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BUGSnBBQ
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03 14 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 20lb turkey done in 4 hours @225? Methinks your temps are a bit higher (300ish?). Get a cheapo oven therm and set it on the grate to confirm the temp. You can get one at a grocery store for $5-6. And fish&q makes a good point about big birds, low temps, and safety. 14lb is the ideal size for lower temps. I shoot for 275-300 degrees when smoking turkeys.
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k.c.hawg
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03 14 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will 3rd that. 20 pounder @ 225 sounds a bit dangerous.
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toymaster
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03 14 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fish&q wrote:
I would not smoke a 20lb turkey low and slow for health reasons. I try to cook no more than a 14lb turkey between 275-325


Ditto. If you have to smoke a turkey that big, you need to brine it and spatchcock (butterfly it) to cook it faster. It is easier, faster and safer to cook two 12 lb birds than cooking one 20 lb bird.
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Tony
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03 14 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Clob to The Smoke Ring Forums!

Question: How many Pounds were the first two Turkeys that You smoked last year?


Heed the Words of fish&q and BUGSnBBQ.Wink

Basically, If 'Yer gonna' cook a 20# Behemoth of a Bird, Jack Up those Cooking temps...

Both fish&q and BUGSnBBQ indicate the higher temps when cooking a large bird...Yours @ 20# necessitates 325'F-350'F.

You are using an electric smoker set @ 225'F...How do you know that the cooker temp is actually what you set it for?

Follow Bug's advice and dial in your cookers temps.

The above points are only my opinions-Your Mileage May Vary.Wink

Best Regards,

Tony

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GoBlues



Joined: 24 Dec 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12 14 12:13 pm    Post subject: Re: How long to smoke a 20lb turkey? Reply with quote

Regardless if your cooking on a BGE or not this has worked for me in the past.

http://www.nakedwhiz.com/madmaxturkey.htm
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Wreckless
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Joined: 15 May 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13 14 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great suggestions to Clob on raising the smoking temps up above 225F. Here is another, endorsed by "Amazing ribs / cookshack 101" adding a small teaspoon of Tenderquick to my brine. Yah, before you blast me for using nitrates, it is a small amount that adds a GREAT amount of peace of mind to my Holiday smoke. Should I go AWOL from my cooker / distracted when time to add a split or 2 for a short spell and the temps drop below what I am typically comfortable with, I like the comfort of having a small amount of cure in that bird. Cannot recall any stories of folks visiting the ER from a teaspoon or so of having added Tenderquick to the brine ( and essentially into the bird) but the Botulism stories are many. Just my $.02 worth. Cool
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