Setting WSM temp for 15lb Turkey

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by dalton325, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Hey smokers,

    I need a little help with my Weber Smokey Mountain 22". You can find on another post I made where I tried to smoke my first turkey a while back and though the internal temp read 165* on the breast and 175* on the leg/thigh and the 2.5hrs it took to smoke the 9lb bird was within some of the time ranges I've seen, I'm pretty sure the bird was undercooked. It had a bloody looking liquid in the cavity when I took it off, that I think should have cooked off before it was done. 

    I'm looking to avoid that mistake with my second bird. I'm doing a dry run before T-Day. I bought a 15lb, fresh, young turkey hen from Walmart. It was the smallest they had, which is funny, because last month, the 9lb+ was the largest. I bought it Monday, let it thaw till Thursday. I brined it on Thursday and plan to take it out today, on Friday. That's 24hrs of brine and it'll get a pat down and 12+ hrs in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before going on the smoker.

    I currently have no instant read thermometer (one is ordered, but amazon is late), I do have a working Maverick ET732 with a grill probe and meat probe. I have the smoker listed above. I keep seeing variations on what temp to cook the bird. I see some saying to cook around 250-275*. I see others (my first attempt was in this range) say 325-350*. The first attempt instructed me to use two weber chimneys of lit coals with an empty water pan. There was a drip pan on the lower grate with liquid, but the grill temp soared. I waited for it to come close to the ideal temp range before adding the bird. It quickly dropped in temp, mostly because of a combo of the cold bird and me taking too long with the lid open fiddling, and was slow to rise back up. From the other post, you'll know I only had one working probe. I kept it on the grill for an hour and then put it in the bird. It took another 1.5hrs for the breast to rise to 165*. I then took the probe and put it in the meat in various spots. I consistently got 165* in the breast and 175* in the leg/thigh. I thought this was perfect, though the bird wasn't super dark. However, it had a funky taste and a slight (only describe as raw-ish) smell to some of the meat. Especially the dark meat.

    I really want to avoid this with the second bird and I need suggestions. There were parts of the breast on the first bird that had no smell, no off taste, and actually tasted pretty good and was super tender and juicy. I want the whole bird that way on the second attempt. Should I use one lit chimney of coals instead of two? Should I do one lit and one unlit, use the waterpan, etc...? From what I can find online, they say that using the water pan usually puts the smoker around the 225-250* range and not using it puts you around the 325-350* range. I'd prefer the higher temps and shorter cooking times as I'm not big on getting up at the crack of dawn and we do thanksgiving at around 11-11:30am.

    I'm using kingsford briquetts. I have a 15lb, brined turkey. The temp will be approx. 58* with sunshine on Saturday. I'm cooking on the top grate. I have cherry wood chips that I'll soak overnight tonight. Can anyone help me determine the amount of lit/unlit coals to use and rough vent position. Thanks for the help. I know I'll have to adjust things, but I want to be as close to the mark as I can. As opposed to struggling through with no knowledge. Thanks.


    This was my first failed attempt, using the recipe for the Ultimate Turkey, from The spice rub looks heavy and you can see that there doesn't appear to be enough color on it. Couldn't see that in the dark, when taking it off. Had to do it after work, because it didn't thaw out fast enough.
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here is my Turkey from last year on my 22.5" WSM.

    For turkey my set up is half a ring of unlit briquets/charcoal topped with 1 full chimney of lit briquets/charcoal. I cook mine in the 250-275 range and take the internal temps to 175-180. Between the brine and the lower cooking temp they still come out very juicy and tender.

    Also I highly suggest you skip the wood chips and get either some chunks (think fist sized to double fist sized) or some splits. You can buy them at almost all of the big box stores. I usually mix about 5 chunks into the unlit charcoal then add 1-2 chunks each hour - if you are using chunks. If your are using splits place 2 splits on the opposite sides of the charcoal ring, on top of the unlit charcoal, then dump the lit charcoal between them. You may need to add one additional split, but that's about it.

    .... and don't soak the chunks or splits, just toss them on.

    I'm guessing your cook was to short the first time around, you will probably be looking at a 4-5 hour smoke.... maybe a tad longer depending on if your turkey is 100% thawed and your ability to hold steady temps.

    Good luck!

  3. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dalton , I don't see anything wrong with the color of your Bird .. Looks like you had the right amount of smoke on her , leaving her with that nice Mahogany color .

    Johnny led you down a good road . Now , as for the am't of Charcoal , I'm not sure as I am a stick burner ! However , you xhould take the time to insure your temp. is good (_ 225*F to 300 *F ) before adding the the Turkey .

    Ths time should be 4-5 hs. to get to 165 *F. The liquid would be moisture residual from juices and in Fowl ,can look a bit pinkish . If your temps. are correct , you'll have a finishec Bird.

    Have a good , Blessed Thanksgiving , and . . .
  4. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dalton, Good advice so far. I prefer chunks for better heat with the smoke. Never used chips, but they should be ok, just don't ever soak any wood. I would think that you should check the accuracy of your therms. For a better all around doneness, I have switched to spatchcoking all of my birds. They seem to get a more thorough dose of heat.

    Good luck, just don't eat any underdone fowl. Joe
  5. I'll try to cook it at a lower temp. I also forgot to pick up charcoal (dur-her), so I could still pick up some chunks. Last time the two chimneys shot the temp up to near 400*. Then it came back down and after adding the bird it dropped to 300*. Then it slowly rose back up from there, till the bird was "done".
  6. oldschoolbbq, the temp was around 350* when the bird went on and dropped to just below 300*, then steadily rose for an hour. At that point, I had to swap my one working probe to the meat till it was done.

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