How long to smoke a turkey at 250?

How long to smoke a turkey at 250?

Smoking a turkey to perfection can be tricky, as the ideal cooking time varies based on various factors, including weight and type of meat. Fortunately, with just a few tips, you can learn how long to smoke a turkey at 250 degrees so you end up with moist and flavorful results that your family will enjoy. Here’s all the info you need regarding correctly smoking an entire turkey without overcooking or drying out its juices.

What’s So Good about Smoked Turkey?

Our fresh whole turkey offers a rich protein, vitamin A, iron, and calcium source. What’s even better is that turkey meat is naturally lean, making it an excellent option for those looking to shed some pounds.

Immerse your turkey in the smoky goodness of a smoker to enhance its flavor and reduce its fat content, resulting in a leaner and more delectable dish. You can experiment with pecan, maple, hickory, or cherry wood to elevate the taste of your smoked turkey, adding a touch of culinary delight.

Preparing Turkey for the Smoker

Proper preparation is crucial if you want the best results when you smoke a turkey. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve the best outcome:

-Thawing Your Turkey: If your turkey is frozen, the first step is to thaw it. Place the frozen turkey in a 40°F fridge for 24 to 36 hours. Thawing ensures even cooking and prevents longer cooking times.

-Preparing the Turkey: Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey after thawing. Then, choose either a dry or wet brining method to enhance the flavor and moisture of the turkey. You can skip the thawing process for a fresh turkey and proceed directly to brining.

What You’ll Need

To smoke a turkey, you’ll need the following items:

How long to smoke a turkey at 250

1)Smoker or Grill: One can use a wood smoker or charcoal grill to achieve that distinct smoky flavor when a traditional smoker is not readily accessible.

2)Shady Brook Farms Turkey: Opt for a fresh or frozen whole turkey. If a whole turkey feels overwhelming, consider a bone-in turkey breast.

3)Seasonings: Use a store-bought dry rub or create your blend with kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, and any other preferred spices.

4)Large Roasting Pan with Cooking Grate: This setup ensures the turkey is held securely in the grate while allowing the drippings to be collected in the pan during the roasting process.

5)Wireless Thermometer: A wireless thermometer monitors the turkey’s internal temperature effortlessly. Opening the smoker or grill frequently can result in heat loss and increased cooking time, making a wireless thermometer a more convenient choice.

Instructions for Smoking a Turkey

When it comes to making a delicious smoked turkey, here’s a step-by-step guide to using a grill or smoker:

How long to smoke a turkey at 250

Step 1: Prepare the Smoker

To obtain that mouth-watering smoky flavor, opt for a charcoal grill or wood smoker, although a gas or electric smoker will work too. Soak your wood in water to slow down the burning process using a charcoal smoker or grill. The recommended woods for smoking turkey are apple, hickory, cherry, or pecan wood. Meanwhile, clean the grates thoroughly and season them with oil or non-stick cooking spray. Preheat the smoker or grill by igniting the wood or charcoal.

Step 2: Get the Turkey Ready

Ensure your turkey is completely thawed, and pat the interior and exterior dry with paper towels. If the turkey skin remains moist, the seasonings might not stick, resulting in less crispy skin. You can use a store-bought dry rub or create your own, incorporating kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and onion powder.

Step 3: Season Turkey

If you’ve dry-brined the turkey, additional seasonings may be optional. Apply oil to the bird before placing it on the smoker or grill. However, if you’ve wet-brined the turkey, oil its dried body before adding the dry rub. Cover the turkey generously with the seasonings, and for accurate monitoring, insert an oven-safe wireless thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. Remember not to stuff the turkey before smoking.

Step 4: Smoking Turkey

Place the seasoned turkey breast side up on your preheated grill or smoker.

Ensure a pan is underneath to collect drippings and prevent charring due to flare-ups.

Close the smoker or grill and smoke the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

The cooking time will vary depending on the turkey’s size and the grill temperature.

For example, at 225°F, it takes approximately 30-45 minutes per pound of turkey. Thus, a 12-pound turkey would require at least six hours to cook in a smoker.

For a faster smoking process, increase the smoker’s temperature to 250°F to 275°F:

At 250°F, it takes around 25 minutes per pound, meaning a 12-pound turkey would be ready in about five hours.

At 275°F, it takes approximately 20 minutes per pound, resulting in a four-hour cook time for a 12-pound turkey.

Remember, the key is reaching an internal temperature of 165°F.

Step 5: Resting and Enjoying the Smoked Turkey

Once the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, could you remove it from the smoker or grill? Could you not cut it immediately?

How long to smoke a turkey at 250

Allow the turkey to rest on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

Resting the turkey before carving is crucial, allowing the juices to redistribute and settle. Cutting the meat without resting it could cause the juices to escape, resulting in a loss of juiciness and flavor.

Tips For Smoking A Turkey

Preparing to smoke a turkey? Here are some essential tips to ensure a successful and flavorful outcome:

1)Consider brining: Though optional, brining the turkey is highly recommended. Whether you choose a wet or dry brine, this step adds incredible flavor and helps retain moisture and juiciness.

2)Butter it up: Generously apply butter all over and underneath the turkey skin before smoking. It will impart a beautiful golden hue to the skin as it melts, enhancing appearance and taste.

3)Opt for a V-rack: Place the turkey on a V-shaped roasting rack designed for smokers or grills. This rack makes transferring the turkey in and out of the smoker easier without risking it falling apart.

4)Resist the urge to peek: Avoid opening it unnecessarily once the turkey is in the smoker. Temperature fluctuations caused by frequent openings can prolong the smoking process. Open the smoker or check the bird’s temperature if you need more fuel.

5)Cook with precision: To avoid overcooking, use a reliable thermometer to monitor the turkey’s internal temperature. A double-probe smoker thermometer is recommended to keep track of both the turkey and the smoker’s ambient temperature.

6)Timing is key: Remove the turkey from the smoker when it reaches a temperature of 5-7 degrees below the recommended level. Remember, the turkey continues to cook even after removal, ensuring it reaches the recommended safe temperature.

7)Allow it to rest: After smoking, let the turkey rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. This essential step helps the juices redistribute, resulting in a moist and succulent turkey. Allowing the turkey to rest prevents any potential mess on your butcher block.

How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 250

The type of thermometer you use is crucial in determining the cooking time. While relying on a built-in thermometer may yield inaccurate readings, investing in a smoker thermometer ensures precision.

The frequency of opening the smoker to add wood chips, fuel, baste the turkey, or measure its temperature can affect the cooking time. Each time the smoker is opened, 15 minutes may be added to the cooking process.

External factors such as wind can challenge maintaining a consistent cooking temperature. If it is windy, extra effort is required to effectively control the smoker’s temperature.

The turkey’s size plays a significant role in determining the cooking time. Larger turkeys naturally require more time to cook thoroughly.

For reference, at 250°F, you can expect approximately 25 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey. Therefore, for a 12-pound turkey, you should plan for around five hours of smoking time. Alternatively, if you smoke at 275°F, the cooking time decreases to approximately 20 minutes per pound, resulting in a total cook time of four hours for a 12-pound turkey.

How Long Should I Smoke a 20-Pound Turkey at 250°F?

Cooking a turkey requires around 25-30 minutes per pound, so a 20-pound turkey will take approximately 8 1/2-10 hours to cook. To ensure food safety, the turkey must pass through the temperature danger zone of 40°F-140°F within 4 hours. Maintaining a temperature between 225°F and 250°F is ideal for larger birds, as it allows them enough time to reach a safe temperature while retaining their juiciness and deliciousness.

If you have concerns about the safety of a smoked 20-pound turkey, you can opt for a smaller turkey. However, a 20-pound bird can be cooked without issues if the temperature remains sufficiently high.

Another option is to partially smoke the turkey in your smoker, imparting a smoky flavor, and then finish cooking it in the oven. This method ensures that the turkey gets out of the temperature danger zone within 4 hours while enjoying the benefits of being partially smoked.

Can I Smoke Turkey Overnight?

Yes, you can smoke turkey overnight. Although it may seem like a long time (about 6 hours for a smaller turkey or up to 8-10 hours for a larger one), it offers some great advantages.

Firstly, it lets you focus on tasks such as preparing side dishes or setting the table. Plus, when dinner rolls around, your turkey will be perfectly cooked and ready to impress your guests.

Another benefit of smoking the turkey overnight is that it reduces the temptation to open the smoker’s door constantly. This helps ensure a more consistent temperature inside, resulting in a more even cooking and shorter cooking time.

To smoke your turkey overnight, set your smoker’s temperature between 225°F and 250°F. Preheat your smoker and then place the turkey on a V-rack before you go to bed. It’s a good idea to keep track of when you put the turkey in and set the alarm for 8-10 hours later.

Around the 8-hour mark, check the turkey’s internal temperature to gauge its doneness. Remember, though, not to exceed 10 hours of smoking time. Any longer, and you risk drying out the turkey.

So, if you’re up for a flavorful and hassle-free turkey smoking experience, try it overnight. Get your smoker ready, tuck in for the night, and wake up to a deliciously smoked turkey that will impress everyone around your table.

Explore our Delicious Smoked Turkey Recipes

Discover a world of exquisite flavors with these tantalizing smoked turkey recipes:

-Smoked Turkey: Indulge in the ultimate smoked turkey experience by wet brining your bird in a delightful mix of water, brown sugar, garlic powder, and lime. This brine will work magic, delivering a succulent and flavorful smoked turkey. Enhance the experience further by applying a mouth-watering dry rub. After it’s done smoking, you’ll be left with a stunning golden brown centerpiece, perfect for serving up to 12 hungry guests.

-Pecan Smoked Turkey: Elevate your taste buds with the sensational combination of dry-brined turkey and the delectable flavors of pecan wood smoke. The result? A tantalizingly crispy exterior complemented by moist and flavorful meat. The essence of pecan wood will infuse a sweet and nutty undertone, adding a unique twist to your smoked turkey creation.

-Fresh Smoked Turkey: If you crave the unrivaled taste of fresh turkey, look no further. This recipe guarantees a culinary masterpiece that surpasses even the highest expectations. 

Prepare for your feast by procuring one whole, fresh turkey with butter, garlic, onions, chicken stock, and your favorite herbs. Inject the turkey with the delightful stock and coat it with a luxurious blend of butter, dry rub, and fragrant herbs. The result? A sumptuous turkey that bursts with savory flavors both inside and out.

Now that you’ve unlocked the secrets of smoking a turkey on a charcoal grill or smoker, it’s time to embark on this mouth-watering journey. Bring your preferred smoked turkey recipe to life today using fresh or frozen whole turkeys from Shady Brook Farms.

Recipe: Smoked Turkey at 250

Serving smoked turkey is an excellent way to impress guests at any gathering or event. This comprehensive recipe walks you through the steps for preparing a perfectly tender and delicious smoked turkey at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long to smoke a turkey at 250

1)Choosing the Perfect Turkey Size

Plan on serving one pound of turkey per guest to determine the ideal turkey size. Here’s a quick reference:

  • For 6-8 guests: Choose an 8-10 lb turkey
  • For 10-12 guests: Choose a 12-14 lb turkey
  • For 14-16 guests: Choose a 16-18 lb turkey

2)Selecting a Wood Type for Flavor

The type of wood you choose for smoking will greatly influence the flavor of your turkey. Here are some popular options:

  • Applewood: Provides a mild, sweet, and fruity flavor
  • Cherry: Offers a subtle sweetness with a slightly tart flavor
  • Hickory: Imparts a strong, smoky, and savory taste
  • Mesquite: Gives a bold, earthy, and intense flavor

Feel free to mix different wood types to achieve a unique flavor profile.

3)Brining and Seasoning Turkey


To brine your turkey, follow these simple steps:

  1. In a large pot, combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of brown sugar. Add any herbs or spices (garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc.).
  2. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  3. Submerge the turkey in the brine, making sure it’s fully covered. (Remove neck and giblets before brining.)
  4. Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for 24 hours.


  1. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Apply a thin coating of oil to the outside of the bird, followed by your choice of dry rub or herbs.
  3. Allow the turkey to sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours before smoking.

4)Preparing and Maintaining the Smoker

To prepare your smoker for a 250°F smoke, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat the smoker to 250°F.
  2. If using a charcoal smoker, add lump charcoal and allow it to become ash-covered before adjusting vents to maintain the desired temperature.
  3. If using a gas or electric smoker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reach and maintain the set temperature.
  4. Add the chosen wood chips to the smoker, either directly on the coals or in a wood chip box.

5)Smoking Turkey

Place the seasoned turkey on the smoker rack, breast side up.

  1. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.
  2. Close the smoker and let the turkey cook at 250°F. Check the internal temperature periodically to avoid overcooking. (Note: A 12 lb turkey typically takes 6-7 hours at this temperature.)
  3. When the internal temperature reaches 165°F, remove the turkey from the smoker.
  4. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

Now you’re ready to serve a mouth-watering smoked turkey cooked to perfection.

FAQs About How long to smoke a turkey at 250

How do I get crispy skin on a smoked turkey?

For crispy skin, pat the turkey dry with paper towels before applying the rub or seasoning. This will remove excess moisture from the skin and help it crisp up during cooking. You can also increase the heat of your smoker slightly (275°F-300°F) for a few minutes at the end of cooking to achieve extra crispness.

Why is the breast meat dry on my smoked turkey?

The breast meat may be dry because it was cooked for too long or at too high a temperature. This causes the proteins to contract and expel moisture, resulting in dryer meat. Monitor your turkey’s internal temperature and remove it from the smoker when it reaches 165°F.

How long does it take to smoke a turkey?

It takes approximately 6-7 hours to smoke a 12 lb turkey at 250°F. However, the cooking time may vary depending on factors such as the size of your bird and the type of smoker you’re using. It’s always best to check the internal temperature of your turkey periodically throughout the smoking process to ensure it doesn’t overcook.

How do I know when my smoked turkey is done?

When your smoked turkey is done, the internal temperature will reach 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh. To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into this area and wait until it reads 165°F. Alternatively, you can use an instant-read thermometer to gauge when your turkey is ready. 

Final Thoughts: How long to smoke a turkey at 250

Smoking a turkey requires patience and time; however, the rewarding smoky flavor makes it all worthwhile. For optimal results, smoke the turkey at a temperature of 250°F, ensuring a moist and juicy texture. Remember to dedicate 6-10 hours of smoking time to prevent overcooking. The result will be a delectable masterpiece of flavor and tenderness.



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