How to Cook a Smoked Turkey (raw, pre-smoked, and reheating)


Turkey is a staple in many family gatherings all year and during the holidays. But some people like to smoke their own turkey while others buy pre-smoked turkeys. And either way, you often have to re-heat them too. So here’s how long to cook a smoked turkey.

Cook a turkey in a smoker for about 30 minutes per pound at 250° F until it reaches an internal temperature of 170°F in the breast. Already smoked turkeys can simply be reheated in a 275° F oven for 3-4 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 150° F.

Below I give you exact times based on all the popular sizes of turkeys.

Although smoking a turkey requires more time than roasting, you will love the very different flavor profile it produces.

For one, smoking gives the turkey a unique flavor you can’t get from roasting. Additionally, it is much easier to control the temperature when smoking a turkey, which helps to ensure that the meat is cooked evenly throughout.

Looking for the best turkey (and beef, steaks, chicken or pork) and unhappy with what your local store has?

Now thanks to FarmFoodsMarket, you can get 100% hormone and antibiotic-free whole turkey delivered right to your door. All vegetarian diet, and GMO-free.

Once you try it, you’ll be astounded at how much better the quality is! Imagine the taste of that pasture-raised turkey fresh off your smoker!

Enjoy 10% off your first order with code WELCOME on FarmFoodsMarket.com!

No doubt you’ve seen FarmFoodsMarket raved about by Forbes and The Washington Post. Now it’s your turn! Flash-frozen and vacuum-sealed mean it will be farm fresh whenever you’re ready!

With every purchase, you support building a better food system for the animals, the planet, and us. Humanly raised and processed.

CLICK HERE to see all their amazing offerings on their website.

How long do you cook an already-smoked turkey?

1 – 3 hours. The duration is fairly minimal because you’re cooking a turkey that’s already been smoked. You should expect your cook time to be much shorter than if it was your first time with a fresh turkey you bought at the local grocery store.

If you are reheating your Thanksgiving turkey using a lower temperature, like 275 degrees Fahrenheit, the good rule of thumb is to cook the turkey for about 3-4 hours. Remember you aren’t cooking it since it’s already cooked. You just need to reheat it until it reaches an internal temperature of 150° F.

Some people consider higher temperatures, so if you’re reheating a leftover smoked turkey, you can also reheat it at 325 degrees.

Either way, consider wrapping it in foil or an oven bag to help it stay moist.

You need to understand that slow heating the turkey at temperatures up to 250°F is essential for the best results if you don’t want to lose any of the turkey’s juiciness. However, you can go up to 325°F if you are in a rush, but not any further because it can make your turkey dry.

Irrespective of the temperature you choose for your pre-cooked turkey, you’ll need to thaw it in the refrigerator if you have a frozen turkey. Testing it with a meat thermometer is the best way to know if your entire turkey is heated.

If you’re looking for a terrific way to cook a turkey this holiday season, consider getting a smoker. However, the variety available at different prices can make selection quite a bore.

If you are searching for a brilliant smoker without breaking the bank, visit my most recent article.

Here I reviewed 15 of the best budget smokers that can make your smoking experience a unique adventure.

How long does it take to smoke a raw turkey?

10 lb Turkey 12 lb Turkey 15 lb Turkey 20 lb Turkey 25 lb Turkey
Total Smoke Time 5 – 6 hours 6 – 8 hours 8 – 10 hours 10 – 12 hours 12 – 16 hours

The duration to smoke a raw turkey depends on a lot of factors. This includes the size of the turkey, the temperature of the smoker, the type of smoker, and the smoker’s experience.

However, you should generally allow about 30-40 minutes of smoking per pound if you use lower temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, it will generally take 10 to 12 hours to smoke a 20-pound turkey completely.

Making a flawlessly smoked turkey is simpler than you might imagine. It is vital to start by rinsing the turkey in cold water and dried with paper towels.

After that, follow the best-smoked turkey recipe and place the covered turkey inside the preheated smoker after adding wood chips according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

But, as always, using an instant-read thermometer is a great way to determine when the bird is done. First, ensure the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit by sticking the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the breast while avoiding the bone.

But remember that internal temp will still go up slightly even after you take it out of the smoker or oven.

Once your turkey reaches that safe temperature, allow the turkey to rest a bit, and you can prepare to serve.

If you’re a BBQ enthusiast, you know that grills and smokers are two of the most important tools of the trade. But what’s the difference between the two? And which one is right for you?

If you are searching for answers to this, you should visit my most recent article. Here I explained the different types of grills and smokers and their unique distinctions. You may want to know if you can use these appliances interchangeably; the article also addressed that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you keep a smoked turkey moist?

Brining is a fantastic choice. However, it is not the only way to keep your turkey moist when smoking. For starters, you may use a fresh turkey.

A fresh turkey is less likely to be dry than one that has been kept frozen for a long time.

Also, consider soaking the turkey in a wet brine for 12 hours before smoking. Brining your turkey is the process of soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution. This helps to keep the turkey moist during the smoking process.

However, wet brining can be tricky because if you don’t use the right ratio of salt to the water, your turkey can become too salty.

As an alternative to wet brine, you can also use dry brine to keep your turkey moist when smoking.

Dry brining is a simpler method that doesn’t require finding a container big enough to fit your turkey. Instead, apply a spice rub blend all over the outside of the turkey. This dry rub method works because the salt helps break down the proteins in the turkey, just like wet brining.

Many people also use a drip pan to moisten the turkey during smoking.

Placing a water pan under your turkey will catch any drippings and help keep the whole bird moist. You can also choose to baste your turkey. Basting your turkey with a little bit of melted butter or olive oil will help keep the skin moist and prevent it from drying.

It is a good idea to place the larger turkey in an aluminum pan and cover it up while smoking. Placing your turkey in an airtight container or a roasting pan and covering it while it’s smoking will help trap the moisture and prevent the turkey from drying out.

A Traeger wood pellet barbecue is a great choice if you want the Cadillac of grills/smokers. However, if you’re used to charcoal or propane, these can be confusing.

So how do you use a Traeger?

You should check out my most recent article if you’re in the same scenario and need more help with your Traeger wood pellet barbecue. Here, I went over the Traeger wood pellet grill, its different components, and how important each one is for a special cooking experience.

The article also covered how to get the Traeger wood pellet grill up to temperature, which may be something else you need to know.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Do I need to baste a smoked turkey?

Yes, you may need to baste a smoked turkey during the smoking process.

Basting your smoked turkey is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your perfect turkey is juicy and flavorful during the cooking process. When you baste your turkey in chicken stock, you are essentially adding flavor to the outside of the turkey, which will seep into the meat as it cooks.

Additionally, basting is a fantastic technique to give your turkey more flavor and helps keep it moist. Basting using vegetable oil, for example, will also allow you to control the level of smoke flavor in your turkey.

You can baste more frequently if you want a more intense smoke flavor. If you want a milder smoke flavor, you can baste less frequently.

When it comes to your turkey, the right level of smoke is key. Too much smoke and your turkey will be dry and bitter. Too little smoke, and it won’t have that signature smoked flavor.

On the other hand, the perfect amount of smoke will give your turkey a delicious, smoky flavor that everyone will love. You can control the amount of smoke produced by using the best smoker.

In addition, basting in cranberry sauce is a great option that helps to create a crispy skin on your turkey. When smoking your turkey on a pellet grill, it is important to use wood known for producing a flavorful smoke. Some of the best woods for smoking turkey include hickory, mesquite, and apple wood chips. You will want to avoid using pine or cedar, as these woods can give your turkey a bitter flavor.

Try smoking your turkey in a gas smoker if you want to give it some flavor this year.

You can read my most recent article to learn how to smoke a turkey in a gas smoker from preparation to cooking. Here, I addressed a few concerns, like the temperature required to smoke a turkey on a gas smoker and what to do if your bird stalls throughout the smoking process. The post also addressed whether you should wrap your turkey in foil when smoking it.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How long does it take to reheat smoked turkey?

10 minutes per pound. When reheating smoked turkey, the key is not to overcook it. Smoked turkey is already cooked, so you’re just reheating it. So, if you have a 4-pound smoked turkey, you would reheat it for about 40 minutes.

If you’re reheating a larger bird, you may need to increase the reheating time to 15 minutes per pound. When reheating smoked turkey, keep it covered with aluminum foil or a lid so it doesn’t dry out during the smoking process. You can also add a little water or chicken broth to the pan to help keep the turkey moist.

Several benefits come with using aluminum foil for your turkey.

One of the biggest benefits is that it can help to keep your turkey moist. If you cook your turkey on a roasting rack, even with indirect heat, the chances are that the bottom of the turkey will get dry and tough.

However, if you cook it in aluminum foil, it will help keep the juices in, keeping your turkey moist and delicious.

As always, one of the most important things is to use a probe thermometer to ensure the meat is at the right temperature. Once your smoked turkey is heated, let it rest for a few minutes before carving or serving. This will help the juices redistribute and make the turkey more juicy and flavorful.

Final Thoughts

It can be quite challenging to smoke a tasty turkey for your family gathering, especially if it’s your first time, but following a few great recipes can make the process rather simple.

Like many others, you can stuff the turkey’s cavity with the usual filling or get inventive and try new fillings.

Any grill, including the electric smoker and the gas grills, can give the best tasty flavors; however, choosing the one you’re most comfortable with is important. Set the wood chips directly on the embers for the best flavor when using a charcoal grill.

Before cutting, the turkey must rest for at least 30 minutes. This facilitates the redistribution of liquids and makes carving the turkey simpler.

Looking for the best turkey (and beef, steaks, chicken or pork) and unhappy with what your local store has?

Now thanks to FarmFoodsMarket, you can get 100% hormone and antibiotic-free whole turkey delivered right to your door. All vegetarian diet, and GMO-free.

Once you try it, you’ll be astounded at how much better the quality is! Imagine the taste of that pasture-raised turkey fresh off your smoker!

Enjoy 10% off your first order with code WELCOME on FarmFoodsMarket.com!

No doubt you’ve seen FarmFoodsMarket raved about by Forbes and The Washington Post. Now it’s your turn! Flash-frozen and vacuum-sealed mean it will be farm fresh whenever you’re ready!

With every purchase, you support building a better food system for the animals, the planet, and us. Humanly raised and processed.

CLICK HERE to see all their amazing offerings on their website.


Image by Kehl Mack from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with 3 daughters, practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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