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Smoking Turkey

Smoking is a slow cooking and flavoring method using specialized equipment. Most smokers are cylinder-shaped devices and use electricity, gas or charcoal for heat. Smokers require liquid to create the moist, hot smoke needed for cooking. Follow manufacturer's instructions for smoking turkey when available.

Charcoal Smoking

1. Place a pan of water (apple juice or other liquid you desire) at the bottom center of the smoker to create steam. Be sure to add water/liquid during smoking to maintain a good steam.

2. Build a hot fire, fill charcoal pan with a good quality charcoal. Light the charcoal and place the cover on the smoker. You are ready to begin smoking when smoker reaches 250-300°F; charcoal will have a gray-white ash covering. If desired, add water-soaked hardwood chips for flavor. Do not use woods containing pitch, such as pine, as it gives the food an off flavor and deposits resin on the meat.

3. Remove giblets and neck; rinse turkey skin and cavity.

4. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of inner thigh (not touching the bone).

5. Center fresh or thawed whole unstuffed 10-12 lb. Foster Farms turkey over the water pan and close lid or door. Never stuff poultry for smoking; the stuffing temperature rises too slowly to safely destroy bacteria and the stuffing will have an undesirable smoky flavor.

6. Cover and adjust vents according to manufacturer's directions.

7. To ensure that the smoker maintains a safe temperature of 250-300°F, add charcoal every 1-2 hours as needed. Add water and soaked wood chips as needed. Check the smoker and internal turkey temperature using two separate thermometers. If a thermometer is not built into the smoker, you can insert a thermometer in a cork inside a vent of the dome.

8. The turkey is done when the meat thermometer in the thigh reaches 180-185°F. Depending on the size of the bird and outside weather conditions, the process can take up to 8 hours or longer.

Additional Tips

  • Always follow equipment manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Turkey may be brined before smoking.
  • Cook times will vary depending on wind, weather, altitude, and equipment. Place the smoker in an area shielded from winds to maintain a safe cooking temperature.
  • For safety, turkey must reach 140°F in 4 hours or less. If temperature is low, finish cooking in oven.
  • Remove lid or open door as little as possible.
  • Always use a food thermometer to measure doneness.
  • Store leftover turkey in the refrigerator.