We will show you the best way to cook or reheat your smoked turkey in the oven. Know how to keep your smoked turkey juicy and tender.
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I think there are two kinds of people that like a smoked turkey. Those that want an already cooked turkey and those that genuinely like the smoky flavor. Ok It may be possible to be both of those kinds of people at the same time.
If a smoked turkey is on your menu this Thanksgiving (or whenever you are reading this), the biggest turkey question has nothing to do with whether to brine or not, but how to reheat it.
And reheating is what we are concerned with, not cooking. A smoked turkey comes fully cooked.
Let's take some time and look at what it takes to reheat a smoked turkey. In this post we will be addressing whole turkey.
🦃 Fresh or Frozen?
But if frozen, your going to have to thaw that bad boy. If you find yourself close to Thanksgiving with a frozen turkey still, check out my methods for a quick turkey thaw. They apply to any frozen turkey, smoked or not.
🏆 What is the Best Oven Temperature
Your best option is to go low and slow. The goal is to still have a juicy turkey. You want the turkey to reheat as evenly as possible, lower temps are perfect for that. A higher temperature will dry out the external part of the turkey before the inside is warm enough. I think the process is not different than reheating a cooked ham.
🌡️ I suggest doing it at 250 degrees. If you are really in a rush, maybe up to 325, but really no higher than that or you could dry out the turkey.
This is a case of your patience rewarding you.
🌡️ What Internal Temperature?
When cooking a turkey I always cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast without touching any bones. However, already cooked smoked turkey doesn't need to get to 165. It just needs to get to the point of being out of the so-called danger zone. This is the temperature range that dangerous bacteria like to grow.
Your chances of getting sick increase if your food is in this danger zone too long. The range is from 40-140 degrees. This is why you need your fridge to be 40 and under at all times. In this case we are concerned about the other end. Cooking your smoked turkey to 140 degrees will get it out of the danger zone.
🌡️ Some people may say to reheat it all the way back to 165. There is debate about this with camps saying 140 and some saying 165. I personally feel comfortable just going out of the danger zone at 140. But if you are feeling a little nervous about that, then go to 165. I don't want you to have dry meat but I am more concerned about you feeling comfortable with the food you are eating.
⏲️ How Long Does It Take?
This depends on so many things, I really can't give you a perfect answer.
Depends on the size of your bird and the temperature of your oven you chose. If you go the lowest temperature I would say cook time is around 4 hours or so. If you do it at 325, maybe 2 ½ hours.
Again there are too many variables to nail down an exact time as much as I would like for you. I would start it early enough to make your meal time and you could always keep it in the oven on warm for a spell.
You will want to give it a 20-25 minute rest time before you carve just to like a regular turkey. This allows the juices in the turkey to be re-distributed.
To give yourself a leg up, remove the turkey from the fridge for an hour before hand to bring up the temperature. Don't worry that's not too long for it to be out of refrigeration.
I recommend having a probe thermometer on hand that you can place in the turkey and have a read out that sits outside the oven, so you can monitor what's going on inside. But if you don't have it you can also use an instant-read thermometer.
🥶 Can You Eat it Cold?
A smoked turkey is an already cooked turkey. Yes, you can eat it cold. Same is true for a ham.
🧊 What If Still Frozen on Thanksgiving?
If your smoked turkey is still frozen on the day of, I would still cook it, It's easer than a raw turkey that has to get to a higher temperature. It's still going to take longer and it's a higher chance you are going to dry it out before its hot enough. Cook it until it hits 140 degrees.
What you could do is defrost it enough to cut it into pieces that what it would reheat a lot faster. Be careful, I don't want you to cut yourself try to cut up a bird that is too hard.
🤏 Can You Stuff It?
Could you? Sure. Should you? I am not so sure.
I did some poking around to see what others were saying on the topic. Butterball whos sells a smoked whole turkey said do not stuff.
I think by adding more mass to the turkey it's going to take longer to get up to 140 degrees. And you have to be sure the stuffing itself is cooked to the proper temperature. I would skip it just as I do with a standard turkey and make dressing outside of the turkey (when it's out of the bird it's called dressing!)
Just because you choose not to stuff it that doesn't mean you have to leave the turkey cavity empty. This is a great time to add some aromatics, like garlic, onions, or herbs.
💡 More Tips
Here some other things to keep in mind
- Color of the meat may look pinkish or reddish. That's natural with a smoked turkey, it is not under cooked.
- To keep the turkey from drying out in the oven cover it completely in aluminum foil and place it into a shallow roasting pan. For a crispier skin you can remove the foil near the end of cooking.
- I haven't done this, but you could try re-heating it in a slow cooker. Although I think that would take too long to get to temperature, so I am not recommending it.
- In order to speed up the cook time, you can remove the turkey an hour before cooking and let it get up to room temperature It won't be there long enough to cause warm.
- Don't throw out the bones when you are done. You can uise them to make turkey stock that will have a smoky flavor!
👨🍳 Does Smoking Your Own Turkey Take Longer?
If you are going to take the time to reheat a smoked turkey, you could just smoke the turkey yourself. Smoking your own turkey may not take as long as it seems. If you buy a frozen smoked turkey, the time you spend thawing it and then reheating it, won't be much different then if you smoked a fresh turkey yourself.
Just something to ponder 🙂
🍠 Favorite Sides
Here are some of my favorite sides that would go great with a smoked turkey.
- Swirled Mashed Potatoes
- Buttered Roasted Carrots
- Green Chile Creamed Corn
- Sous Vide Sweet Potatoes
- Herb & Sausage Dressing
- Oven Roasted Vegetables
- Mac & Cheese
Smoked turkey leftovers would be amazing in any of these recipes:
Are you planning on a smoked turkey this year? Leave a comment below telling us how you plan to cook/reheat it.