How Long Can A Turkey Rest After Smoking?

March 02, 2023 5 min read

How Long Can A Turkey Rest After Smoking

Cooking a turkey can be daunting and challenging as most people need help getting it right. It may be because it is usually cooked once a year by many people. So feeling nervous about it being overcooked or having a bland flavor seems rational.

As cooking a turkey is often seen as a hassle, it explains why there are so many ways to cook it. Of course, you can always turn over to the internet, where there are thousands of recipes for roasting, frying or smoking the turkey. However, one question still lingers how long can a turkey rest after smoking?

How Long Should You Put Turkey To Rest Once Smoked?

When cooking a turkey, the main goal is to keep it succulent and moist. Most experts often advise giving the turkey enough resting time to achieve this. It sounds like a vague suggestion as it is hard to deduce enough time to let the turkey rest. Nevertheless, it is a ubiquitous question asked by most people, so here is the information that might be helpful for you.

The resting period depends totally on the size of the turkey. The bigger the bird, the more resting time the turkey needs to keep it from getting dry. Generally, ten minutes per pound is considered enough resting time for a turkey, but it all depends on how big it is.

A small-sized turkey typically weighs around 8-12 pounds, so 20-30 minutes would be enough resting time to give the turkey. In contrast, an enormous turkey weighs about 14 to 18 pounds making its resting phase 45-60 minutes. It's a simple rule that has helped many people who find preparing turkey difficult.

So all you need to focus on is setting the correct time limit. However, the more resting time after smoking, the more tender and juicier the turkey will be from the inside.

Compared to the whole bird, a turkey breast requires less resting time; a smaller breast weighing less than 6 pounds usually requires a resting phase of 15 minutes, while larger breasts need around 20 minutes.

On his show, a famous British chef named Gordon Ramsey said you could put turkey at rest as long as you cook it. The statement triggered a debate about whether it is reasonable for the turkey to be at rest for long hours.

Rationally speaking, one hour is enough to let the turkey rest, and again it dramatically depends on the size of the bird. So never stretch the resting period beyond two hours as it may get easily contaminated, resulting in a sour taste.

Why Is It Important To Allow Turkey To Rest After Smoking?

You must have seen nearly all world-famous chefs emphasizing resting the turkey meat after smoking. It helps the meat retain juices, thus keeping it from becoming dry or bland when serving. So if you are wondering how it happens, you must pay attention to the information we were just about to share.

The protein molecules inside unwind when smoking meat, not just turkey. Once you begin cooking, the protein molecules chain up and coil back the way they were initially. Upon curling back, the meat proteins become firm, thus letting the moisture exude from the cell wall.

The moisture is the drippings or seasonings you see when smoking the meat. When you allow the turkey to rest after smoking, the moisture gets reabsorbed and softens the complex proteins. This way, the meat becomes tender and moist. So, never put the turkey straight to the chopping board for cutting once smoked; leave it to rest for a few minutes.

Should Turkey Be Left At Rest Covered Or Uncovered?

Cooking and putting the turkey at rest is more complex than it sounds. Slight negligence on your part can ruin your main course. It is terrible, especially when you have many people to feed. There are a few technicalities of which you need to be aware.

First, you should know the right way to rest the turkey, which means setting a resting duration is insufficient. So one of the best ways of resting a turkey is to place it upside down. In other words, the breast side of the turkey should be facing downwards, allowing the moisture to flow properly toward the surface.

Another common query most renowned chef’s face is whether the turkey at rest should be left covered or uncovered. It is entirely up to you to go the turkey covered or uncovered at rest. Since most people like to have their turkey fully hot from the surface to the center, covering during the rest phase sounds prudent.

Aluminum foil would help cover the turkey. Wrap the turkey loosely, as covering the turkey with a tight sheet of foil can overcook it, losing away the crunchiness. But if you want to give the surface a crunchy texture, then uncovering is the way. However, it would be best if you did not leave the turkey uncovered for too long as all the heat and moisture may escape entirely, leaving it all dry and cold. 

Some experts suggest that covering the meat turns it all rubbery and stiff. It is better to take the bird out of the smoker before its estimated duration to avoid this.

Once out, loosely cover it with aluminum foil and leave it for a while. The heat trapped inside would finish the remaining cooking process, thus making it hot and tender from the inside and crunch from the outside.

When Should I Put My Turkey To Rest?

The key to getting a juicy and succulent turkey is to put it at rest at the right time. Well, it is a fundamental thing known by every individual, but they don't know when they should put the turkey at rest.

So how should one know if the smoke turkey is well-done or not? There is only one word to this question: "temperature." The right temperature and time are the only way to know about the turkey's doneness. For this, you need to check the temperature of three locations: breast, thigh, and stuffing.

Once the turkey's breast, thigh, and stuffing temperature reaches 150 degrees, 165 degrees, and 145 degrees, respectively, it is the right time to put the turkey at rest after smoking. Also, there is nothing to stress about if the recipe has a different temperature point. The overcooking will occur during the resting period as the turkey will be wrapped in foil. 

Is It Possible to Place the Turkey Back in the Oven If It Gets Cold After Resting?

Sometimes, people take too long to prepare the stuffing and sides, and the turkey gets cold. So if you think of putting it back in the oven to get it hot and crispy, one-word DON'T. Never make that mistake because reheating the turkey would not only overcook it but might also ruin the flavors.

Doing so will waste all your day's effort; however, there is one thing you can do. All you need to do is carve the turkey into small pieces, place it in a dish, and then pour hot sauce as a dressing over it. The meat would automatically become hot and tender without altering the flavors.

Turkey has become the centerpiece of every dinner, especially during the holidays. So it would be best if you got it all right not to ruin everyone's mood at the dinner table. To get the juiciest and most delicious turkey breast, let it rest for 20 minutes before carving it.

These tips might prove helpful if you're planning on cooking a turkey for an occasion as big as Thanksgiving. However, countless recipes and techniques are available online to guide you. In addition, if you remember ways to troubleshoot any problem, there's nothing to worry about.

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