How Long Does It Take To Smoke a Turkey? Cooking Tips To Make Your Holiday More Wonderful!

Cooking a juicy and tasty turkey is everybody’s challenge on Thanksgiving and other special occasions. There are many ways to fail this culinary task. One of the most important elements that affects the quality of your smoked turkey is the timing. Not adjusting the cooking time can ruin your holiday dinner. That's why we'll tell you how long it takes to smoke your next turkey meal. 

I've seen an overcooked turkey that was thrown into the trash, and it's changed badly the whole atmosphere of that day. To prevent this from happening, I have been searching for a lot of information and now summarize it in this article. It isn’t impossible if you follow our suggestion about how long to smoke a turkey.

Influenced factor

Some factors affect the cooking time. We will consider two main aspects: the turkey information and the temperature of the smoker.

The turkey information

The turkey information will give you a better view of the cooking time and make your dish taste more delicious.

  • The first is the size of your turkey. Obviously the bigger the turkey, the longer it will take.
  • Next is the quality of the product, if you choose a frozen turkey, it will take more than 50% of the normal cooking time compared with a fresh one.
  • Finally, the way you put it on the smoker. If it's stuffed the turkey, the cooking time becomes longer because the temperature of the smoker goes down a lot when it reaches your turkey. When the internal temperature of both turkey and the stuffing have to reach the 1650C and usually by the time the stuffing gets to temperature, the turkey is overcooked, so I don't recommend stuffing your bird.

The temperature of the smoker

The temperature of the smoker also affects the cooking time. As we can know, there are many kinds of the cooking machine. Depending on the type of the smoker you choose, the temperature and time will change differently. This article will provide you some parameters of the most popular cooking ways that everyone makes. It is cooked on the oven and cooked on the grill.

By the oven:


To smoke a turkey on the oven, timing is one of the most important things. These times below are based on placing the whole defrosted of fresh turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a 325-350oF oven (175oC). And it will take more than 50% longer than the recommended times if your product is a frozen bird. Sometimes you may want to raise the temperature higher than normal to make the time shorter. But if the temperature is too high, your turkey can be done outside but raw inside. Therefore, observing a certain temperature will produce an excellent dish.


By the grill:


The cooking time on the grill is complicated as each grill is massively different. But normally your turkey requires 30-40 minutes per pound at an ideal temperature 2300F. A 12-pound turkey will need 6 hours to smoke completely. But the actual time depends on your grill temperature and preserving the heat. Add more woods or coals as needed to maintain the temperature of your grill between 225 and 250oF.

Sum up

You got every factors that can affect your cooking time and the appropriate time for each of them. To clearly know how long to smoke your own turkey, you can compare the information of your food and the temperature of your own smoker with those conditions above to get the right timing for your dish.

Some Cautions

Some notices that you should know to be able to perfect your dish:

  • No matter which machine you use to cook your dish, the interior temperature of the whole turkey need to reach 165oF in both the thickest part of the thigh and the breast. It can move up and down from 2 to 5 degrees depending on whether the temperature is guaranteed to be stable or not. But a few degree difference will not affect your dish too much.
  • Avoid checking your dish too often. It will cause the temperature in the oven to fall and unstable. That will take more time to get back and lose the moisture of your bird.
  • To ensure the temperature of the smoker or the temperature of the turkey, you should have a thermometer. It will help you know the exact temperature to increase or decrease it appropriately. A thermometer will set your mind to rest.


To have a delicious and juicy taste, your smoked turkey needs to have a proper cooking time. After this post about how long to smoke a turkey, I definitely believe that you'd found out what is the exact cooking time for your dish. 

You will no longer have to worry about the lack of time for other tasks because you have the exact parameters that your turkey takes.

If you have any confusion or questions, let others know by commenting below.

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