How Long to Smoke a Turkey at 300°F? A Tale of Temp and Time

December 13, 2022

At this temp, the turkey will cook at a rate of 15 to 20 minutes per pound – remember that this is just an estimate and a lot of factors can alter the smoking rate.

I am going to be perfectly honest – I am not a fan of cooking turkey at higher temperatures. This is a delicate meat and needs to be treated as such. That being said, I do understand that you may be in a rush and want your bird cooked faster.

In this post, I will break down how long to smoke a turkey at 300 degrees and provide some tips that will ensure it is cooked to perfection. Let’s begin!

how long to smoke a turkey at 300

How Long to Smoke a Whole Turkey at 300 Degrees?

On average, you can expect a turkey to smoke at a rate of 15 to 20 minutes per pound at this temperature.

That being said, I do have to caution you against tracking the cooking process by cooking time alone. The reality is that it is very difficult to determine just how long to smoke a turkey at any temperature. This is because there is so many factors to consider.

To start with, no two smokers cook at the same temperature. Sure, the dial may say state a particular smoker temperature but actually, the temp inside the cooking chamber can vary quite a bit.

Even the ambient temperature can affect the rate at which the turkey smokes. For instance, the turkey may cook faster in the summer and slower in the winter.

This is why you should never take the chance and simply track the internal temperature instead. Using the cooking time as a guide for when you should check the internal temp of the bird.

When Is a Turkey Done?

Since knowing how long to smoke the turkey is only half the battle, you need to keep a lookout for the internal temp of the bird as well.

Now, with turkey, this can be a little tricky when cooking the whole turkey. This is because the bird can be sectioned into white meat and dark meat. The white sections are turkey breasts and wings. The dark portions are the turkey thighs and turkey legs.

The thing is that the white meat cooks faster and is done much more quickly than the dark portions. This is why you should keep track of the breast temperature. When the internal temp hits 150 degrees F, it is time to take the bird out.

A Warning About Smoking Turkey at 300 Degrees

Now, before I move on, I need to answer a more important question:

Can you cook a turkey on 300 degrees?

Yes, you can smoke turkey at 300 degrees, however, I don’t recommend it. The thing about turkey is that it is a rather delicate meat with very little moisture. Due to this, it is prone to drying out very easily.

This is why it is best to smoke the turkey at a smoker temperature of 225 degrees or 250 degrees. This allows the meat to cook at a low and slow rate, resulting in a far more moist bird.

At most, you can push it to 275 degrees.

Then:

How long do you smoke a 15 lb turkey at 275 degrees?

At this temperature, you can expect the 15 pound turkey to smoke at a rate of 20 – 25 minutes per pound. So, the turkey will take between 5 to 6 and a half hours to smoke.

How long does it take to smoke a 20 pound turkey at 275 degrees?

Based on the above estimate, it will take between 6.5 and 8.5 hours.

Smoking meat at 300 degrees will speed up the process but it also increases the risk of drying out. If you do wish to smoke turkey at this smoker temperature, then you need to be careful. Monitor the turkey cooking stringently and take it out at precisely the right internal temperature.

So, in case you were wondering:

Do you smoke a turkey at 325 or 350?

The answer is 300 degrees! As it is, 300 degrees is way too high for smoking a turkey. If you try to go even higher than this, then you can nearly guarantee that you will end up with a dry and tasteless smoked turkey.

Thanksgiving Turkey Barbecued on a Grill

The Top Tips for the Perfect Smoked Turkey

Here are the guidelines that you should follow when smoking your turkey:

Defrost the Bird Completely

Never try to smoke a frozen turkey – you will end up with an unevenly cooked bird. Instead, take the time to defrost it completely. For the best and safest result, let it thaw in the refrigerator.

Consider Butterflying the Turkey

This is also known as spatchcocking a turkey. It is where you remove the spinal bones and flatten out the turkey in a butterfly-like shape.

Now, I know that this isn’t a traditional shape for Thanksgiving dinner, but this extra effort is certainly worth it. This is because when you spatchcock a turkey, it cooks at a more even rate and smokes more quickly too!

Brine the Turkey

If you want a delicious and juicy turkey, then you have to brine it ahead of time – at least for 24 hours. This step can make all the difference.

Brining a turkey is very simple. Apply kosher salt over the entire bird, including under the skin. Then, place the turkey in the refrigerator, uncovered, and let it sit for 24 hours or until the skin is dry to the touch.

Choose the Right Wood

When it comes to smoking turkey, it is important to select the right wood for the perfect smoke flavor.

I prefer using apple, cherry, or maple wood chips as these are quite mild. Hickory and mesquite can often feel rather overpowering as the turkey flavor is quite mild.

If you do want a bit more smokiness to your turkey, though, then I would advise a mix of hickory or mesquite with some of the sweeter fruitwoods.

Place the Turkey Breast Side Down

As I mentioned, the breast will often cook faster than the rest of the bird. Due to this, arrange the turkey so that the breast is facing away from the heat source.

Now, in the cases of most smokers, the heat source comes from above. Due to this, place the breast side down so that it will not get direct heat.

Make sure to place a drip pan or water pan below the whole bird to catch any drippings.

Monitor the Temperature Carefully

As I said, you can’t really determine how long to smoke the turkey based on temperature and time alone.

Due to this, it is important to use a meat thermometer to track the temperature of the bird during the smoking process.

This is even more important if you are planning on smoking a whole turkey at 300 degrees. This is because the bird will cook at a much faster rate.

In this case, I suggest using a meat thermometer that can be kept in the turkey throughout the smoking. Make sure to place it into the thickest part of the breast meat – however, make sure to keep the thermometer at least an inch away from the bone.

Woman Measuring Temperature of Whole Roasted Turkey with Meat Thermometer

Be Careful Towards the End of the Process

One of the reasons to know how long to smoke a bird is so that you can use this as a guideline. Based on the cooking rate and your calculations, you can tell when the bird is close to being done.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the turkey when it is about half an hour away from being done. Once the breast hits 145 F, do not take your eyes off the thermometer. The moment that it registers 150 F, it is time to take the bird out.

Let the Bird Rest

As you are taking the bird out of the smoker quite early, it is imperative that you let it rest. The turkey will continue to cook by another 10 degrees or so during this period. This way, when it does finish cooking, it will be perfectly done.

The other benefit of resting the bird is that the meat reabsorbs any of the juices that it has lost as it was cooked. This ensures that your turkey is far more moist and tender.

Some people like to tent the turkey in aluminum foil, but you can simply place it on a wooden cutting board for a while too.

Remember – don’t cut into the turkey or remove the turkey legs until the bird has had time to completely rest.

Wrapping It Up

Well, there you have it – you now know how to safely smoke a turkey at a higher temperature. This should make it a lot easier to cook your bird quickly but also ensure that it is moist and delicious when you are done!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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