Sorry if this is a redundant question, but I'm finding conflicting advice about this: If I want to smoke an ~18 lb turkey, is there a great risk of it spending too much time in the temperature "danger zone" if I stuff it with traditional stuffing?

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    Welcome to the site @Scott, are you taking about hot smoking or cold smoking? If hot, what temperature would you be smoking at and for how long? – GdD Nov 5 '18 at 9:53
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    Maybe cold smoking just the turkey, and then finishing it in the oven with stuffing might work? Might want to see if there's anything out there on the Interwebs about that. – PoloHoleSet Nov 5 '18 at 17:10
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    Thank you! Sorry for the question being vague. I was referring to hot smoking, well above the temperatures where bacteria get comfy. Exact temperature is TBD, but I'd assumed it would need to be over 250 degrees for me to have a fighting chance. (Still learning!) – Scott Nov 5 '18 at 21:51

I've had delicious hot smoked/grilled turkey, which was brined first (not stuffed). However, stuffing always becomes a problem with turkey. Whether you smoke, or cook in the oven, you are going to over cook the white meat by the time the center of your stuffing is at a safe temperature. You can certainly make it safe by using the appropriate temperature, time, and measuring with a thermometer. ...and, brining can help retain moisture. Having to wait for the center of the stuffing to reach a safe temperature means that the question will be, how overcooked can you stand your turkey meat?

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    Agreed. You'd be better off having the stuffing under the turkey to catch any drippings, but then you'd get smoked stuffing. (which might not be bad, if you didn't over smoke it). And you can throw the pan of stuffing into the oven if it hasn't reached the necessary temperature. – Joe Nov 5 '18 at 14:55
  • I did a brined fresh turkey in my rotisserie oven, stuffed. The white meat drying out was not an issue, but that bird was exceptionally juicy (unbelievable amount of pan juices, especially for a stuffed bird). I don't think I'd be as confident smoking it with the stuffing already in it, though. – PoloHoleSet Nov 5 '18 at 17:08
  • Thank you! All of your comments have given me some stuff to think about and a couple new ideas to try. – Scott Nov 5 '18 at 21:51

For an 18 pound turkey, I would suggest that you are tempting fate. You would be smoking a large bird, at presumably a low temperature (under 300*F). And you are going to be stuffing its cavity with a large thermal mass that does not conduct heat very well. It seems unlikely you would reach inactivation temperature in a reasonably safe amount of time.

  • Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of. I think I'm going to go the unstuffed route. Thanks! – Scott Nov 7 '18 at 17:09
  • Good call. I think it's a little too much on the risky side, and I tend to go right up to that line. On a tangential note, consider spatchcocking the bird if you are going to smoke it. Cooks faster and more evenly. – Sean Hart Nov 16 '18 at 19:45

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