How Long Can a Turkey Rest After Smoking? Process, Methods, and Tips

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Smoking a turkey is not an easy task. It takes some time and patience. But it is worth the wait because of the taste and aroma that you will feel after smoking.

Once smoked, the turkey needs to rest for the flavor to develop properly. You should put it in an appropriate container, on a plate or bowl with about two inches of cold water over the top for five hours or longer. In this article, you will know how long can a turkey rest after smoking.

What Is the Process of Smoking a Turkey and How Long Does It Take?

Smoking a turkey is one of the most popular Thanksgiving activities. If you want to make sure that your bird turns out right, it is important to make sure that you follow the correct process.

There are two types of smokers available:

  • Charcoal, which uses lighter fluid as fuel
  • Electric, which uses electricity as the fuel

The most popular method for smoking a turkey is the electric smoker because it takes less time to cook it than other methods like using charcoal or wood chips to smoke turkey meat.


Nevertheless, the process consists of five important steps:

  • Brining – This is where salt and sugar are mixed into water and then poured over the turkey’s exterior
  • Drying – The step dries off the water to absorb moisture
  • Salt- Added as flavor enhancer during this step
  • Smoking – All meats are smoked in this step, turkeys included
  • Cooking & Roasting – This is where food cooks and meat can be removed from the heat source

Is Smoke or No Smoke Better for Cooking a Turkey?

The difference between smoked and no-smoked turkeys depends on the cooking method.

Smoking is a process that involves the use of dry wood smoke to cook meat. The soot from burning wood is drawn into the cavity of a bird, where it penetrates the muscle and coats it by adhering to its silvery surface.

No-smoking turkeys are usually roasted without any smoke, but they contain some visible black marks from charring on their skin that provide flavor and moisture in the same way that smoke does.

No-smoked turkeys are dry-brined, they have more flavor and taste better than smoked turkeys. They do not have any of the spices used to make them ‘smokey’.

The downside of no-smoked turkeys is that they are difficult to cook because you need about 8-10 hours of cooking time whereas a smoked turkey would be ready in about 3 hours.

Different Smoking Methods That You Can Try

Different Smoking Methods That You Can Try

Smoking turkey is a complex process. The tricky part is finding the best method for it. You may follow any of the following smoking methods:

1. Hot Smoke Method

This is a quick and easy method that involves using wood or charcoal to smoke the turkey for about 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cold Smoke Method

For this, you will need either natural wood or charcoal to smoke your turkey at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Traditional Smoked Method

You may also use this traditional smoked approach if you don’t have access to smoking apparatus or if you want to leave room in your oven for other cooking tasks like roasting vegetables or baking pies.

This involves smoking the turkey at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can rest before carving or slicing.

Related: How to Make Turkey Fries With a Peanut Oil Fryer?

What Is the Best Way to Hang a Smoked Turkey?

Hanging a smoked turkey is a process that’s not always easy. Today, we have tools and methods to make the process much easier.

The best way to hang a smoked turkey is by using a 19-gauge wire which can also be used for hanging meat. You should have a pot or bucket with boiled water, salt, sugar, and white pepper placed underneath the turkey.

Hang your smoked turkeys in an open place to get the full effect of the smoke over time. You should also leave space underneath the bird so that heat can escape as well as air circulates your smoking process.

Tips on When to Take Your Smoked Turkey off the Grill

Tips on When to Take Your Smoked Turkey off the Grill

One of the most important parts of cooking a turkey is to have it removed from the grill at the right time. This is usually when it is cooked all the way through and starts to release some of its juice. When you pull your turkey off, do not let go until it has been resting for at least 10 minutes before serving.

There are a lot of factors that can have an impact on when you should take your turkey off the grill and this includes where you live, how big your turkey was, whether or not you like well-done meat, etc.

One way to determine the perfect time for your turkey is by checking the temperature of the meat. If you put your hand on top of the thigh and can feel your skin, then it needs to be removed from heat.

Another way is by using a meat thermometer. If it reads 165°F, then you should remove it from heat and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Or if you have an instant-read thermometer, you can use this to check the temperature of your turkey.

If the temperature is 165°F, then you can remove it from the heat and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Also Read: How to Season a Ribeye Steak for Grilling?


The length of time that you should rest a turkey after smoking it is best described as “a few hours to overnight.” As mentioned before, resting a smoked turkey for at least 2 hours is ideal.

Once you have rested the turkey adequately and removed any remaining smoker smell, it is safe to place the turkey in your refrigerator to store.

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