You certainly can smoke the turkey at 275 – the bird will cook at a rate of 20 to 25 minutes per pound at this temperature.
I don’t mean to brag but I have managed to get a lot of my friends on board with smoking turkeys. However, many of them don’t like the long time when smoking the bird at 225 F and asked me if it was possible to turn up the heat. I decided to do a little experiment to see how the turkey would turn out.
In this post, I will show you how to smoke turkey at 275 degrees and show you all the tips and tricks to make it perfect. Let’s begin!
Yes, you can smoke a whole turkey at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. The main benefit to doing so is that the turkey will smoke at a faster rate, cutting down on cooking time.
However, I often don’t recommend smoking turkey at 275 degrees, for one simple reason. Turkey is a more delicate meat that doesn’t contain a great deal of moisture. This is especially true for the sections of white meat.
As a result, when you cook the turkey at a higher temperature, there is a greater risk of drying it out.
If you do want to set the smoker temperature to 275 degrees, though, there is a way to do it and still end up with juicy meat. I am going to show you how to do this a little later on.
On average, a turkey will smoke at a rate of 20 to 25 minutes per pound. This means that a 10 pound turkey will take between 3.5 and 4 hours to cook.
I do want to stress that you should never rely on cooking time alone when smoking turkey.
This is because there are so many different factors that can affect cooking time. For instance, even though you may have set a certain temperature on your smoker doesn’t mean that this is the temperature inside the cooking chamber.
What’s more, factors like ambient temperature and wind can also alter the cooking time. Due to this, it is very difficult to make an accurate estimate of how long it will take to smoke your turkey.
This is why you are better off tracking the internal temperature of the turkey as it is smoking. This will let you know precisely when to take the bird out of the smoker.
Here is a step by step guide to smoking turkey at this temperature:
Sprinkle kosher salt over the whole turkey, including under the skin.
After you brine the turkey, leave it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for between 24 and 48 hours.
Take the turkey out about an hour before smoking.
Combine the ingredients of your dry rub and apply liberally to the turkey, including under the skin.
Add the wood to the smoker. Due to the delicate flavor of the turkey, I have found that the fruit woods work the best for a light smoke flavor. You can choose from apple or cherry. If you would prefer something a little different, maple and pecan are a nice touch too.
Set the cooking temperature to 275 F and let the smoker preheat.
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Make sure the tip of the probe is at least an inch away from any bone.
Place the turkey on the smoker, turkey breast side down. Close the lid.
When the internal temperature of the breast meat reads 150 F, take the smoked turkey out.
Let the smoked turkey rest for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when smoking your turkey at a higher temperature:
Since you are cooking the turkey at a higher temperature, it is important to brine the turkey. Avoid a wet brine as this can be rather messy – a dry brine is the way to go.
This is easy – it simply involves sprinkling kosher salt over the whole turkey, including under the skin.
When you do this, the salt penetrates deep into the turkey meat. Here, it breaks down some of the proteins in the muscles. This prevents the muscles from contracting as hard when the meat is heated. In turn, the turkey is better equipped to retain the moisture in the meat and this makes for juicy meat.
As an added bonus, it makes the skin nice and crispy too.
If you aren’t preparing a turkey for Thanksgiving and if the presentation isn’t an issue, I would suggest that you butterfly the turkey.
This involves removing the backbone of the chicken and getting it to lie flat on the grill.
What I like about this method is that it ensures that whole turkeys cook at a more even rate. This way, you don’t have to worry about certain sections of the bird being done before the others.
Even if other smoked turkey recipes don’t mention this, I suggest giving it a try.
The turkey is going to cook a lot faster so this means that you have to keep a close eye on the temperature.
A leave-in thermometer is best, particularly if it can be synced up to an app. This way, you get continuous updates on how the turkey is cooking.
If this is not possible, check the turkey every 15 minutes or so. Once the turkey gets to 130 F, stick close to the smoker. This way, you will be able to take it out the moment that it is done and prevent the smoked turkey from overcooking.
I get it – you are looking at 150 F, the temperature that you are supposed to take the turkey out, and are thinking this is far too low.
I get your concern as dark meat often needs to cook to a higher temperature.
That being said, there is one important thing to remember – even after the turkey is taken out of the smoker, it will continue to cook. It will often go up by as much as 10 degrees. Taking it out earlier is a good way to prevent the meat from drying out.
Far too many people think that resting is just for steaks and cuts of beef. This isn’t the case at all, though! It is just as important to rest turkey.
The meat can then cool down, the muscles will relax, and the bird will absorb any juices it has lost.
Well, there you go, the next time that you want to cook a 10 pound turkey or a 12 pound turkey a bit faster, you now know what to do. Follow all the guidelines that I have provided here and you are guaranteed to get wonderful results!