What temp does turkey stop taking smoke

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Last Updated on: 12th February 2023, 06:42 pm

With the least effort, turkey is one of the finest types of meat that can give you mouth-watering smoked flavor.

But there is a lot of misinformation related to this on the internet. One of these controversial topics is at what temperature does a turkey stop smoking?

it is a confusing question , because not much information is available online on it. in addition , their are no authorized platform where one can go and verify what is the accurate temperature when turkey stop taking smoke.

so the only way to find it out is by testing it yourself. to your surprise, i have done the part and experiment it myself. today i m going to share with you the findings of my experiment

key takeaway: turkey will stop absorbing smoke after its internal temperature reaches 160 °F. but smoke will continue to deposit on its surface after that. so the its smoky flavor will still keep increasing after 160 °F

In this blog post we are going to explain this briefly, and after reading this, you will be able to smoke turkey more effectively.

The simplest answer is that turkeys will absorb a low level of smoke once they have reached around 160 °F.

However, smoke will continue to accumulate on the bark of turkeys.As a result, the turkey will continue to take smoke throughout the smoking process.

The only way that turkey can stop absorbing smoke while being placed inside the smoker is when it is wrapped in foil.

In that case, smoke will not come into direct contact with the turkey, and the turkey will be cooked only through heat.

These confusions about smoke absorption arise due to various misunderstandings about the basics of smoking.

turkey leg

one of the most common misconception that is found among the pitmasters, especially the beginners is that smoke ring is a determinant of smoked turkey flavor.

But when we dig deeper , smoke ring was really way off than the flavor of turkey. a turkey can have intense smoky flavor without having smoke ring. here is why.

smoke ring develops on the surface of turkey due the reaction of myoglobin and the gases present inside the moke. so the intensity and the size of smoke ring can vary depending on the amount of myoglobin and gases.

Does cooking method affect smoke absorption?

Yes, the smoking method can definitely affect the smoke absorption of turkey.

There are two types of cooking methods in terms of heat: low and slow (smoking) and hot or direct heat method (grilling). Both of these have different levels of smoke absorption.

When you are cooking turkey low and slow, it will take a longer time for the smoker to reach 76 °C and stop the development of a smoke ring.

After that, the rub components will heat up, which results in the development of bark.

After the development of bark, the smoke will deposit on the bark rather than on the turkey.

Low and slow cooking will allow meat like turkey or brisket to absorb more than enough smoke to give a delicious smoky flavor before the development of bark.

While in the case of high temperature cooking, the rub will be heated quickly and form a crispy structure on the surface of the turkey.

Due to this, the inner side of the turkey will not be able to absorb much smoke and will have a less smoked flavor.

Although low and slow cooking allows us to smoke turkey for a longer time, you should keep this in mind to avoid over-smoking it.

Over-smoking turkey is as dangerous as under-smoking it. Over-smoking can usually result in the bitter flavor of the turkey.

The turkey will keep absorbing smoke as long as it’s placed inside the smoker. But you should consider being careful about the time given for smoking and the composition of smoke. To get a good smokey flavor, half of the smoking time is usually set aside for smoke absorption.

smoked turkey in tray

In our opinion, the smoke absorption by a turkey placed inside a smoker can be divided into two main types.

The smoke absorbed by the internal side of the turkey and the smoke absorbed by the external surface of the turkey while placed in the smoker

How long will the internal side of the turkey absorb smoke?

By the internal side of the turkey, we mean the deep part of the turkey or simply the part below the bark.

It is our core part, and it should absorb enough smoke to give a universal flavor throughout the turkey chunk. It absorbs smoke until the development of bark.

After the development of the bark, it will not be exposed to smoke and thus will not be able to absorb smoke any further.

So, to maximize the absorption of smoke by the internal side of the turkey, you should consider smoking at a low temperature.

By smoking at a low temperature, the bark will develop later after the turkey has absorbed enough smoke to taste better.

Furthermore, low and slow cooking also helps in getting a good smoke ring. So it’s a win-win situation.

How long will the external side of the turkey absorb smoke?

By the external side of the turkey, we actually mean the bark rather than the turkey surface.

Bark can absorb turkey throughout the smoking process as long as the turkey is placed within the smoker. But you should consider being careful about over-smoking it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that bark will not absorb the smoke, but rather the smoke particles will adsorb to the surface of the bark.

Which means they will not penetrate deeper and just attach to the surface of the bark.

We have limited time to smoke the internal side, but the external surface of the turkey can be smoked for a longer time to get your desired flavor.

However, you should keep in mind not to over-smoke it while smoking it for an extended period of time.

How long does turkey absorb smoke for?

The black and white answer to this question is that the turkey can absorb smoke throughout the smoking process while being placed inside the smoker.

Even when it does not penetrate deeper, it will still continue to deposit on the surface of Turkey.

But to ensure that the turkey is smoked perfectly without over-smoking or under-smoking it, you should consider smoking it for the proper amount of time.

Does a Turkey Stop Absorbing Smoke Flavor

The smoke absorption time can usually range from 6–8 hours depending on the texture of the turkey.

It is a common misconception that turkeys stop absorbing smoke after 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s incorrect because the smoke ring will stop expanding after 170°F rather than 140°F, but the turkey will still keep absorbing smoke.

To achieve the perfect smoky flavor, half of the smoking process time is usually dedicated to smoke absorption.

After that, the turkey is usually wrapped in foil to avoid over-smoking it and is then cooked by heat.

The smoke absorption time can vary from turkey to turkey depending on the texture of the turkey.

Lean and soft turkey can be smoked for 2-8 hours, while hard turkey like brisket can take more than 20 hours to be smoked properly.

Effect of cooking method on smoke absorption

Smoke absorption of any meat let be turkey or any other meat depends on the cooking method. some method allow turkey to absorb more smoke while other decrease the smoke absorption after some time.

one of the common thing that affects the smoke absorption of turkey is wrapping it during stall. usually , turkey doesn’t have a stall , but if smoked ineffectively , then it can also hit stall . you can read our guide on Does a turkey stall when smoking? for more information.

so if turkey is wrapped during the stall , then it will stop absorbing smoke. although smoke can seep inside if you using butcher paper, it will be in much lesser quantity thaan being directly exposed to the smoke.

on the other hand,on the flip side if you force through the stall without wrapping the brisket by increasing the temperature , then it will absorb more smoke than being wrapped, no matter what the internal temperature is.

Can you pull turkey off smoker at 160?

yes,you can pull off your turkey at 160°F and it is completely safe to eat. according to usda , it is essential for turkey to reach the temperature of 160°F to be considered safe for eating.

it is because of the bacteria and other pathogens that might be present on turkey. once the temperature of turkey exceeds 160°F, then almost all of the pathogens are killed and it becomes safe to eat.

but if you want it to become more tender so that it should fall off the bones,then you can smoke t for some time to increase its flavor and tenderness

Can you smoke a turkey too long?

No, you should avoid smoking for too long . as they say, excess of anything is bad.you can only smoke turkey for a set period of time until it becomes tender and its temperature exceeds 160 °F, then you should pull it off the smoker.

smoking for too long usually does more harm than good. it can make the flavor of turkey intense and bitter. moreover, it can also result in charring which is often related with stomach cancer.

What is the Danger Zone for smoking turkey?

Danger zone is temperature range between 40°F and 140°F when smoking turkey. it is known as danger zone because it is favorable for the growth of bacteria and other pathogens.
if Turkey is left to smoke in this temperature range for longer time , then it can be contaminated with pathogens and will not be safe to eat.so it is advised to not smoke turkey in this temperature range for longer time.

Tips for getting a good smoky flavor

Smoking is a longer process that can take hours or even days to complete, but you should consider following best practices to make sure to get a mouth-watering flavor.

Here are some tips that you should consider following to increase your chances of getting a good flavor.

  • First of all, you should consider smoking low and slow. It is really helpful whether you are trying to get a smoke ring or a smoky flavor. It will give the turkey more time to be exposed to smoke and absorb enough smoke to taste better.
  • Secondly, you should consider wrapping your turkey in aluminum foil after some time. It should help you avoid over-smoking it while allowing it to be cooked to perfection. Over-smoking turkey is as hazardous as under-smoking.
  • Furthermore, you should consider sprinkling your turkey with water or any other liquid to keep its internal temperature low. If the internal temperature of the turkey is increased, then the smoke ring will stop and the turkey will be overcooked on the outside while undercooked on the inside.
  • Additionally, you should consider using appropriate wood for smoking your turkey. Wood type is the most crucial determinant of the smoky flavor of turkey. If you smoke with low quality wood, then it will have a bad impact on your turkey flavor.
  • Finally, you should consider using a wood type with mild smoke after a while to avoid over-smoking it. You can use intense smoked wood at the start, but if the smoke is not monitored carefully, then it can result in a bitter taste.

The Final Verdict

The turkey does not stop absorbing smoke throughout the smoking process. Although it will absorb less smoke after it reaches a 160°F temperature.

Moreover, the smoke ring stops developing after the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 76°C. A turkey can only stop absorbing smoke if it’s wrapped inside aluminum foil.

Usually, the turkey is smoked for half of the smoking process. The turkey smoking time can vary from turkey to turkey depending on its texture.

We hope that this blog post helps you clear up all the misconceptions related to when turkey stops absorbing smoke during the smoking process.

if you are interested in learning more,than make sure to read our guide on What temp does chicken stop taking smoke

Jakob miller
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