How long can a turkey rest after smoking? The right answer

Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 12:18 am

Resting is really important for preserving and enhancing the flavor of your smoked turkey.

You could end up wasting all of your resting effort if you don’t rest your turkey for enough time.

In this guide, we are going to discuss how long a turkey can rest after smoking.

As per general rule, you need to let the turkey rest for at least 15–30 minutes before slicing it.

If you slice the turkey immediately after taking it out of the smoker, then you might end up spilling the meat juices out of the turkey.

When I was new to smoking, I myself was guilty of this mistake.

It usually costs heavily because if the meat juices are spilled out, then the deeper portion of the turkey will become dry and hardened.

But over time, I have researched and practiced that resting your turkey is the only solution for this.

By resting the turkey, the meat juices present on the surface of the turkey sink back into the deeper portion of the turkey.

After that, the meat juices are absorbed by the meat fibers, which makes the turkey more tender and juicy.

How long can a turkey rest after smoking?

According on the size of the turkey, it can rest for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.

15 minutes will be plenty if you are smoking a little turkey; however, you will need at least 30 minutes to rest bigger turkeys.

The period for resting is primarily determined by the size of the turkey.

The size of the cow or any other animal at the time of butchering determines the size of the turkey.

Therefore, a smaller turkey will be softer and need less time to rest.

When the turkey’s internal temperature hits boiling during smoking, the moisture begins to evaporate. The stall phase is another name for it.

Turkey absorbs less smoke when its temperature increases. so you need to smoke it in the first few hours .you can check our guide on What temp does turkey stop taking smoke for more information.

As a result, the moisture in the turkey is attracted to its surface by evaporation.

due to which , the exterior of the turkey accumulates moisture, leaving the deeper part of the bird dry.

The meat fluids will run out and change the look of the turkey if it is cut into slices right away after smoking. We rest turkey because of this.

in order for the liquid on the turkey’s surface to penetrate and be reabsorbed by the meat’s fibers.

Before choosing a choice, it’s crucial to consider the size of the turkey because this technique differs based on its size.

In order to make the turkey moist and soft, it should be rested for at least some minutes before cutting.

Depending on the size of the turkey, the resting period will change.

What does “carryover cooking” mean while resting a turkey?

After the turkey has been taken out of the smoker, carryover cooking refers to an ongoing rise in temperature.

Typically, during the resting period, carryover cooking takes place.

Temperature increases of between 5 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit are possible, depending on the size and texture of the turkey.

Therefore, it’s crucial to remember that even after you take the turkey out of the smoker, the cooking process will continue.

The turkey should be taken out five to ten degrees before the desired temperature.

For instance, it is a good idea to remove a turkey at 185°F and set it aside for resting if you want to cook it at 190°F.

Otherwise, residual cooking will cause the temperature to rise and the turkey will be overcooked.

Really, smoking requires a lot of rest.

The turkey’s resting range should be kept within both a minimum and a maximum range.

The fluids from the flesh will leak if you carve the turkey too soon.

The turkey will continue to cook or cool down if you leave it to rest for a longer period of time.

Therefore, it’s crucial to establish a certain range for the turkey’s resting time.

Turkey should be rested for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes, depending on size.

For the turkey to rest, this area is crucial.

Every turkey cannot be rested for 15 or 30 minutes at a time.

Consider the size of the turkey while choosing amongst the above-mentioned parameters.

However, you shouldn’t let decision-making overwhelm you because it’s the only way to effectively master smoking.

Why do we need to rest turkeys?

In turkey, resting is a very crucial phase.

It is necessary to let the turkey rest before slicing it; it is not an optional step.

Resting turkeys has several advantages.

Below are a few of them.

It allows redistribution of meat juices

The meat fluids may be distributed more evenly by resting a turkey.

When turkey is allowed to rest, the meat fluids will penetrate and be reabsorbed by the flesh fibers.

As a result, when the meat is cut, the fluids won’t leak out.

One of the most crucial components of smoked turkey is the meat fluids.

Usually, the moisture in the turkey is responsible for this.

When smoking a turkey, the bird is pierced to examine the color of the meat fluids and determine when it is done.

Making sure turkey is done before pulling it off the smoker is really important. it can affect the flavor and texture of turkey. you can check our guide on how to check when ground turkey is done for more information.

You are aware that the turkey’s surface is covered with flesh fluids, which release when you poke the bird.

Do you know where these fluids originate, though?

The moisture from the turkey itself is what is attracted to the surface during evaporation, is the correct response.

In the stall phase, it is attracted to the surface.

Although whether or not a turkey stalls during smoking is up for discussion.

you can check our guide on does a turkey stall when smoking for more information.

But once the turkey has finished smoking, the tar is still visible on the bird’s skin.

Therefore, the meat fluids will leak out and change the texture of the turkey if it is cut into slices right away after smoking.

It increases the tenderness of turkey

Resting helps to make turkey more supple and soft in addition to redistributing the meat fluids.

Two main factors contribute to the softness of turkey: carryover cooking and moisture retention when covered.

Carryover cooking is one of the most neglected phenomena in the smoking world.

The temperature of the turkey will keep rising after it has been removed from the smoker.

The flesh will become more soft and the fibers will be broken down by the rise in temperature.

Second, if the turkey is covered while it is resting, the moisture will be retained, allowing the turkey to cook for a while by steaming.

The turkey will become even more moist and tender as a result.

The turkey will be sufficiently tender to be readily pulled off the bone after resting for a while.

enhances the flavor

The taste of a turkey is also improved by resting it.

It’s like giving the rub and other ingredients one more chance to fully penetrate the turkey.

Along with the meat juices, the rubbed particles will penetrate the turkey more deeply.

To allow the rub to sink in properly ,you need to give it enough time. usually 2 to 7 hours are enough time for rub to sink in. For more information, you can read our guide on when to put rub on turkey before smoking.

Additionally, the flavor of the turkey will improve even more while it is resting if sauce was added to it by mopping while it was being smoked.

The turkey will combine with the sauce and rub that have been applied, enhancing its taste.

Should you wrap the turkey while resting?

Another widely discussed subject in the barbecue community is wrapping or covering turkeys while they rest.

On this subject, there are hundreds of schools of opinion.

The first wants to cover the turkey, while the second prefers to keep it uncovered.

And it appears that both of them are correct.

There is no hard and fast rule on whether or not to wrap your turkey while it is resting. It is all up to you.

Both tactics offer advantages, and you must choose which one you prefer based on your particular preferences.

Because it promotes faster redistribution of meat liquids, covering the turkey while resting makes it more soft and moist.

It also cooks turkey by steaming it for a period, which softens it and boosts its softness.

Resting the turkey without covering it, on the other hand, helps us keep a better and crisper bark.

As previously stated, moisture trapped within the foil when wrapping might alter the bark of the turkey and make it untidy.

So whether you choose to cover turkey or not is entirely up to you.

Cover the turkey if you want it to be nice and soft.

If you want a crispy and flavorful bark, don’t cover the turkey while it rests.

Is it harmful to over-rest a turkey?

The basic and direct answer to this question is always yes.

It’s a natural law that an excess of anything is dangerous, and a resting turkey is no exception.

You must establish a range for resting a turkey.

Turkeys should be rested for no more than 30 minutes in general.

After 30 minutes, the turkey will begin to chill and solidify.

As a result, you should consider serving your turkey after resting it for no more than 30 minutes.

As previously said, resting has several advantages, ranging from redistribution of meat liquids to tenderizing the turkey.

However, if overused, these advantages might become disadvantages.

You should consider setting a time limit of 30 minutes for resting turkeys.

The most prevalent side effect of over-resting a turkey is that it begins to chill and stiffen.

If your turkey has cooled, it will not be particularly attractive when served to guests.

You may avoid chilling the turkey by placing it in the oven or using the faux cambro method.

However, if you rest the turkey for too long, it may overcook.

While resting the turkey in the oven, pay close attention to the interior temperature.

To ensure that the turkey preserves its natural texture, rest it for no more than 30 minutes.

If the resting point and flat parts are counted individually, the maximum range is reduced to 3 hours.

How to Rest the Turkey from the Oven

If you want to rest your turkey without chilling it down, the oven is an excellent option.

It is possible to rest your turkey for up to 8 hours before serving.

It is often utilized when the turkey has been cooked for many hours before serving.

Although this is a wonderful approach for storing your turkey for hours, there is still a risk involved.

While resting your turkey in the oven, you may overcook it, affecting the texture of your turkey.

Choose a turkey with a low temperature of 160°F-170°F if you intend to rest it in the oven.

If you can’t locate one with that range, look for one with a smaller range of no more than 180°F.

There are no problems associated with resting your turkey in the oven.

Simply preheat your oven to the lowest setting and place your turkey inside.

You don’t have to wait for the oven to reach the correct temperature; instead, put the turkey in the oven as soon as you remove it from the smoker.

Make careful to insert a temperature probe into the turkey before placing it in the oven.

It will assist you in keeping track of the internal temperature of the turkey and avoiding overcooking.

If the internal temperature of the turkey surpasses 160°F, it should be removed from the oven.

Should you position the turkey breast side up or down while resting?

As per general guidelines, you need to rest the turkey while keeping its breast side up.

Because if you face the breast side down, then it will get messy and soggy because of the accumulation of the meat juices in it due to gravity.

Resting the turkey with its breast side facing helps it to redistribute the meat juices evenly throughout the whole turkey.

In addition, the breast is the most important part of the turkey and no one wants to mess with it by improper handling.

Resting is important for smoking turkey breast effectively, but you need to make sure that it is done before it off the smoker. Here is a complete guide on deciding whether turkey breast is done or not without thermometer.


You need to rest the turkey for 15–30 minutes to allow the turkey to reabsorb the meat juices while preventing it from cooling down.

If you want to store turkey for a longer time, then make sure to use the faux cambro technique or oven .

Jakob miller