Can you smoke a 17 lb turkey?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you’re probably already thinking about how to cook the perfect turkey. Smoking your bird is a popular choice that can give it a unique and delicious flavor. But what if you have a 17 lb turkey? Can you smoke it?

Smoking is a slow-cooking process that uses smoke and indirect heat to infuse food with a smoky flavor and aroma that’s hard to beat. While smoking is an excellent way to cook a turkey, there are some things to keep in mind when dealing with such a large bird.

A 17 lb turkey might seem daunting at first, but with proper preparation, it’s definitely doable. You’ll need to make sure your turkey is thawed, of course, and that it will fit comfortably in your smoker. Larger birds also require more cooking time than smaller ones, so be sure to plan accordingly.

So can you smoke a 17 lb turkey? Absolutely. In this post, we’ll share our best tips and tricks for smoking your bird to perfection. We’ll cover everything from preparing the turkey and selecting the right wood chips to cooking temperatures and techniques that will leave your guests raving about your Thanksgiving feast.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of smoking a 17 lb turkey (and trust us, it’s worth it), then let’s dive into the details together.


What Is Needed To Smoke a 17 lb Turkey?

Smoking a 17 lb turkey may seem intimidating, but with the proper equipment and technique, it’s an achievable feat. To smoke a turkey of this size, you will need to gather a few essential items:

  • Smoker: The first and most crucial item you’ll need is a smoker that can accommodate a 17 lb turkey. You have a few options to choose from, including electric, charcoal, or gas smokers. Consider your preference and needs when selecting the smoker.
  • Wood Chips or Chunks: To impart your turkey with a smoky flavor, you’ll need wood chips or chunks. The type of wood you choose will impact the taste of your turkey. For example, hickory wood chips produce a strong and robust flavor, while applewood chips add a sweet and fruity taste.
  • Meat Thermometer: Smoking a turkey takes longer than roasting it in an oven, so it’s crucial to monitor the temperature regularly. A meat thermometer is essential to ensure that your turkey is cooked thoroughly and reaches the ideal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Seasoning: Adding seasoning to your turkey will elevate its flavor and make it more delicious. You can use dry rubs or marinades that include garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, black pepper, and salt to give your turkey an irresistible taste.
  • Brine: Brining your turkey before smoking is highly recommended as it helps to keep the meat moist and adds flavor. You can use a dry brine or a wet brine depending on your preference.

Once you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients, it’s time to prepare your turkey for smoking. Begin by brining your turkey beforehand to allow it to absorb the flavors fully. Preheat your smoker to the ideal temperature range and add your wood chips or chunks. Place the turkey on the smoker rack with the breast-side up and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the bird.

Remember to keep an eye on both the smoker and the turkey’s temperature throughout the smoking process until it reaches the ideal temperature of 165°F. This can take anywhere from 5-7 hours, depending on your specific smoker and cooking conditions.

Preparing the Smoker for Smoking

Smoking a 17 lb turkey is a surefire way to impress your guests and elevate your grilling game. But before you start, it’s crucial to prepare your smoker for smoking. As an expert in this area, let me guide you through the necessary steps to ensure that your turkey turns out juicy, flavorful, and absolutely delicious.

Step 1: Choose the Right Smoker

There are different types of smokers available on the market, each with its unique characteristics. Charcoal smokers give you that classic smoky flavor, while electric smokers are convenient and easy to use. Gas smokers offer precise temperature control. Consider your needs and preferences when choosing a smoker.

Step 2: Clean and Season Your Smoker

Before using your smoker for the first time, give it a good cleaning and check all components are in good working order. Then, season the smoker by coating its inside with oil or cooking spray and heating it up to a high temperature for at least an hour. This process eliminates any harmful chemicals and creates a protective layer that prevents rusting.

Step 3: Add Wood Chips

The type of wood chips you use will depend on your personal preference, but some popular choices include hickory, mesquite, and applewood. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker. This will help prevent them from catching fire and create a steady smoke that flavors the meat.

Step 4: Light It Up

If you’re using a charcoal smoker, light the charcoal and wait for it to become hot and ashy before adding the wood chips and turkey. If you’re using an electric or gas smoker, turn it on and set it to the desired temperature. Make sure you have enough wood chips on hand to maintain a consistent smoke throughout the cooking process.

Bonus Tips:

  • Use a drip pan underneath the turkey to catch any drippings and prevent flare-ups.
  • Monitor the temperature regularly using a thermometer until it reaches 165°F.
  • Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to distribute evenly.

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Brining the Turkey

Then, you must not overlook the crucial step of brining. Brining is like a luxurious spa day for your turkey, allowing it to soak up all the goodness of salt, sugar, and other flavorings, resulting in a succulent and flavorful bird. It’s a simple process that yields impressive results.

To start, you’ll need a large container such as a cooler or food-grade plastic bucket to hold both the turkey and the brine solution. For the brine solution, mix 1 cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar per gallon of water. Don’t be afraid to add additional ingredients like herbs, spices, citrus fruits, or apple cider to create a unique taste profile.

Before brining your turkey, remove any giblets or neck from the cavity and rinse it inside and out with cold water. Once you’ve prepared your turkey, submerge it entirely in the brine solution, ensuring that it’s fully covered. To keep it submerged, you may need to weigh it down with a plate or other heavy object.

Now, the hard part – waiting. Refrigerate your turkey in the brine solution for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will allow the salt and other flavors to penetrate deep into the meat fibers. After brining, remove the turkey from the solution and rinse it thoroughly with cold water to eliminate any excess salt. Pat it dry with paper towels before smoking.

Brining your turkey is an essential step that ensures your smoked turkey is moist and packed with flavor. Some added benefits of brining are that it helps break down muscle fibers in the turkey that allows it to absorb more moisture and flavor. It also reduces cooking time as it starts the cooking process before you place it on the smoker or grill.

Monitoring Temperatures

Then, listen up, because monitoring temperatures is essential when smoking a turkey. You don’t want to risk serving up an undercooked turkey that could make your guests sick.

So why is temperature monitoring so critical when smoking a turkey? Firstly, it ensures that harmful bacteria in the meat are eliminated. The USDA recommends cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in all parts of the bird. Secondly, by keeping a watchful eye on the smoker’s temperature and the internal temperature of the bird, you can guarantee that your turkey is cooked evenly and thoroughly.

Let’s dive into the two temperatures that require your attention when smoking a turkey. First, let’s talk about the smoker temperature. You need to maintain a consistent temperature between 225°F and 250°F (107°C and 121°C) throughout the entire cooking process. This means adjusting the vents and adding wood chips as needed to keep the smoker temperature stable.

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Secondly, it’s critical to monitor the internal temperature of the bird. To do this, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh without touching the bone. It’s crucial to check this temperature every hour until it reaches 165°F (74°C). Depending on your bird’s size, you might want to start checking its internal temperature after 3-4 hours of cooking.

If you notice that your smoker temperature is fluctuating or dropping below 225°F (107°C), don’t fret. Simply adjust your vents or add more charcoal or wood chips to maintain a consistent temperature. And if your turkey’s internal temperature isn’t rising fast enough, increase your smoker’s temperature by adding more fuel or adjusting the vents.

To summarize, monitoring temperatures is vital when smoking a turkey. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Maintain a consistent smoker temperature between 225°F and 250°F (107°C and 121°C) throughout the entire cooking process.
  • Check the internal temperature of the bird every hour until it reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Start checking the internal temperature after 3-4 hours of cooking, depending on your bird’s size.
  • Adjust your smoker temperature as needed using vents, charcoal, or wood chips.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a 17 lb Turkey?

Smoking a turkey is an art form that requires patience, attention, and a little bit of science. And when it comes to smoking a 17 lb turkey, many people wonder how long it will take to achieve tender, juicy perfection. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and are ready to share our findings.

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the type of smoker you’re using, the temperature of your smoker, and your desired level of doneness. On average, it takes roughly 30 minutes per pound to smoke a turkey, which means that a 17 lb turkey could take approximately 8-9 hours to smoke. However, keep in mind that this is just an estimate, and the actual time may vary depending on the aforementioned factors.

One critical factor to consider when smoking your turkey is the temperature of your smoker. To achieve the best results, it’s recommended to maintain a consistent temperature between 225-250°F. This temperature range ensures that your bird cooks evenly and retains its moisture for maximum flavor.

Another crucial consideration is your preferred level of doneness. If you like your turkey well-done, it may take longer to smoke than if you prefer a medium-rare bird. Regardless of your preference, the USDA recommends cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F for safe consumption.

To monitor the internal temperature of your turkey, use a meat thermometer regularly. This will help you gauge its progress and make any necessary adjustments along the way.

Tips and Tricks for Smoking a 17 lb Turkey

Smoking a 17 lb turkey may seem overwhelming, but with the right tips and tricks, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Here are five sub-sections to guide you through the process of smoking a mouth-watering turkey.

Choosing the Perfect Smoker

The type of smoker you choose can significantly impact the flavor and texture of your turkey. Electric smokers are user-friendly and great for beginners, while charcoal or wood smokers offer a more authentic smoky flavor. Regardless of your preference, ensure that your smoker is large enough to accommodate the size of your turkey and has proper ventilation.

Preparing the Turkey

Before smoking your turkey, ensure that it is fully thawed. Brining the turkey overnight will keep it moist throughout the smoking process and enhance its flavor. You can opt for a dry brine by rubbing salt and other spices onto the turkey or a wet brine by soaking it in a saltwater solution along with herbs and spices.

Seasoning Your Turkey

Seasoning your turkey is crucial to infuse it with delicious flavors. Garlic, thyme, rosemary, and sage are popular choices for seasoning smoked turkey. Ensure that you generously apply your choice of seasonings both inside and outside of the bird.

Choosing the Right Wood Chips

The type of wood chips you use can greatly affect the flavor of your smoked turkey. Hickory, apple, and cherry wood are popular choices that complement the taste of poultry. Soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using them in your smoker.

Maintaining Consistent Temperature

Maintaining a consistent temperature is essential to achieve perfectly smoked turkey. Smoke your turkey at a temperature between 225-250°F for approximately 30 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature periodically until it reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the bird.

Resting Time

Letting your turkey rest for at least 15 minutes after smoking is essential to ensure that it remains juicy and flavorsome. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a tender and succulent bird.

Common Pitfalls When Smoking a 17 lb Turkey

So, you’re ready to take on the challenge of smoking a 17 lb turkey. But before you start, it’s important to know the common pitfalls that can ruin your bird and leave you with a less-than-perfect meal.

First and foremost, proper thawing is essential to ensure even cooking and juicy meat. Don’t rush this process by leaving the turkey out on the counter or in hot water – instead, plan ahead and allow for at least three days of thawing time in the refrigerator.

Brining is another crucial step in keeping your turkey moist and adding flavor. A simple brine of water, salt, sugar, and seasonings can work wonders for your bird, but make sure to let it soak for at least 12 hours before smoking.

Temperature control is key when smoking a turkey. Overcooking or undercooking can ruin your bird and leave you with dry or undercooked meat. Invest in a good meat thermometer and monitor the temperature regularly throughout the smoking process. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the turkey should reach 165°F for safe consumption.

Resist the temptation to open that smoker too often. Each time you peek inside, you’re letting heat and smoke escape, which can increase cooking time and impact the flavor of your meat. Try to only open the smoker when necessary and resist any urges to check on your bird too often.

Lastly, don’t forget to let your turkey rest before carving. Allowing it to rest for at least 15-20 minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute throughout the bird, resulting in moist and flavorful meat.

To recap:

  • Thaw your turkey properly with enough time.
  • Brine your turkey for at least 12 hours before smoking.
  • Monitor the temperature regularly with a meat thermometer.
  • Resist opening the smoker too often.
  • Let your turkey rest before carving.

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To achieve a perfectly smoked 17 lb turkey, it’s essential to have the right equipment and preparation. With a smoker that can accommodate your bird, wood chips or chunks, a meat thermometer, seasoning, and brine, you’re well on your way to creating a unique and delicious flavor that will be hard to beat.

However, the process doesn’t stop there. Preparing your smoker correctly is crucial for ensuring juicy, flavorful meat. This means cleaning and seasoning it properly, adding wood chips or chunks in just the right amount, and lighting it up at the perfect time.

Brining your turkey before smoking is also highly recommended as it helps keep the meat moist while adding extra flavor. And when it comes to monitoring temperatures, you can’t be too careful. Regularly checking both the smoker and bird’s temperature with a meat thermometer ensures harmful bacteria are eliminated while keeping the meat juicy.

But what about common pitfalls? Thawing your turkey properly is crucial before brining for at least 12 hours before smoking. It’s also important to resist opening the smoker too often during cooking.

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