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I just spatchcocked a 12 lb turkey, smoked it in temperature around 225-275 F (107-135 C) for about 3 hours. I did it in a kamado joe classic 3 with SloRoller. It came out amazing. Fully cooked, tender and flavorful

I’m wondering Is it possible to do the same thing with a 20lb turkey?

Some random sources I googled suggested that that’s crossing into the “danger zone” anything above 12lb.

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2 Answers 2

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The main concern with smoking large whole turkeys is that heat may not get into the cavity, so the inside may not get up to temperature fast enough. When you spatchcock a turkey the heat can get to both sides evenly, so you take away this problem and a 20lb turkey should be fine. Kamado Joes (I have a Classic 2) have excellent heat circulation so I wouldn't expect you to have a problem with a whole one, but spatchcocking will give you better results.

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Yes, you can smoke a 20lb turkey. I have never had to spatchcock one, but I do not have a rotator or one of the premium smokers mentioned either. I have a simple "locker style" smoker (vertical with a propane burner). That said, I never have any problems with even the largest bird. My caveat here is that I leave the body fully open (i.e. no stuffing).

The key here is to not aim to fully cook the bird in the smoker itself. I typically smoke it at about 4 hours at 225 F. That should bring the bird to about the 150 F range. I then heat the oven to 400 F and pull the bird out into a baking pan. Cover the top with foil (leave the meat thermometer in) and put the bird in the oven for another 15-30 mins. That should bring it to your desirable 160 F.

I've done this for several years and get a perfect bird every time.

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