How Long Can a Turkey Rest After Smoking? (COVERED OR UNCOVERED)

How long can a turkey rest after smoking? Resting turkey after smoking is a necessary part of the recipe that we often overlook.

How long can a turkey rest after smoking
How long to rest turkey after smoking

Even if we do it, we don’t do it for the right duration as required. Are we doing right with the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast?

Turkey meat is often associated with being dry and bland, the reason why many people don’t prefer it.

Do you think the same? If yes, then you haven’t yet tasted a perfectly cooked turkey. You probably have been served with the dried turkey platter whose juices are all dripped and wasted.

For the most succulent and moist turkey, you have to allow enough resting time to a turkey but for how long? Don’t worry, you’ll get your answer below.

How long can a turkey rest after smoking?

Turkey’s resting time depends on the size of the bird if we talk about a whole turkey.

Bigger the bird, the more the resting time. The general rule is that you should allow 10 minutes per pound of turkey to rest after smoking.

Smaller birds weighing 8-12 pounds usually need 20-30 minutes of resting time. While bigger birds weighing 14-18 pounds should be allowed to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Do not compromise this duration. The more you allow your turkey to rest after smoking, it will end up being more juicy and moist.

So the average time for turkey resting ranges between 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. 

If you’re concerned about resting time for turkey breast, then it needs less time than a whole bird obviously.

A smaller breast piece weighing less than 6 pounds needs 15 minutes, while a larger breast piece needs 20 minutes.

Why is resting turkey meat important?

Till now, I have stressed a lot about resting turkey after smoking. And you might have heard this advice from master chefs too.

Of course, this trick helps retain juices in the meat and y’all have tried it too. But aren’t you curious about how? Wait, I’ll explain the science behind why resting meat after smoking is important.

When you’re smoking turkey or any meat, the protein inside it uncoils. Then the molecules coagulate and recoil during the whole cooking process.

The protein molecules get firm and moisture from the cell wall starts drawing outwards. The drippings you witness slipping from the tender meat during smoking!

Although it’s best to save those drippings on the drip tray and pour it again on the meat, plenty of juice is still on the skin of the meat.

When you allow a resting period, moisture is reabsorbed and makes the firm protein molecule softer again.

Otherwise, if you put the turkey meat straight to the cutting board after smoking, it will taste dry and bland.

Should I rest turkey covered or uncovered?

Resting turkey for the right duration will not take you to the perfect Thanksgiving meal, you need to know the right resting turkey technique.

One of the best ways to rest a turkey is by flipping it onto its breast for about before carving and serving. The breast usually is dry and needs to absorb moisture more than other parts of the bird and this trick can make it juicier.

No one wants a cold surface turkey that is only hot from the center. Resting turkey covered or uncovered is entirely on you.

If you like a crunchy texture, then leaving turkey uncovered for rest is the option to go with. It will probably end up with crispy skin and soft meat inside.

But uncovering for a longer period might concern you for losing heat and moisture.

So try covering your turkey with loose aluminum foil while you leave it to rest.

Note that wrapping it too tight with foil or a sleeping bag can overcook the meat and lose that crisp a perfectly cooked turkey has.

When the temp has said ‘Done to the meat’, you should not allow it to overcook. In fact, Paul Kelly recommends not covering the meat at all after smoking.

According to him, when you cover meat after cooking for the recommended time and temperature, you’ll end up eating a rubbery textured turkey.

To cope with this situation of either cold surface turkey or overcooked, I suggest you remove it from the smoker before it is actually done.

Suppose the recipe says to take the native bird out of the smoker when the internal temperature is 180 degrees. Rather, take it out at 165 degrees and let the turkey rest covered loosely with aluminum foil.

It will finish off the remaining cooking process as well as retain the heat.

What is the right time to put my turkey to rest?

Remember, the right cooking time is the key to getting succulent and tender turkey meat. You should put it to rest at the right time to get your deal done. But how to know the doneness of smoked turkey?

The temperature.

The right temperature is the right time to remove turkey from the smoker and let it rest. Here is a complete guide on Smoked Turkey Temp And Time.

Check the temperature of three different locations for the guaranteed right time to remove.

When the turkey breast reaches 150 degrees, the thigh reaches 165 degrees, and the stuffing reaches 145 degrees, it’s the right temperature and time for resting turkey after smoking.

Don’t bother about undercooking if the recipe says 170 degrees for turkey breast. The remaining cooking process will be done during the resting period while retaining juices.

Can I rest a turkey for as long as I cook it?

People are going crazy after a British chef, Gordon Ramsay, advised in his tv show about resting turkey for as long as you cook it. Is it really reasonable and safe?

Well, I guess not to take the advice so seriously. You don’t need to rest a turkey for that long. One hour is a good period for resting turkey after smoking.

You can prolong it to two hours if your turkey is larger. But it is the maximum!

Do not allow turkey resting time of more than two hours.

Try to maintain the internal temperature of turkey above 140 degrees. Below this temperature, the surface will begin cooling, ending up a failed turkey recipe.

Moreover, it will enter the danger zone and become home to several bacteria.

How long to rest Turkey breast before carving?

The perfect turkey breast is juicy, crispy, and moist. It’s a delicious centerpiece for any holiday table.

No matter how much turkey you want to prepare for the holidays, it’s important that you let it rest before carving.

But, how long should you rest the turkey breast before carving? To get the juiciest and most flavorful turkey, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting.

Can I put my Turkey back in the oven if it gets cold after resting?

If it took you too long to prepare the sides and sauce for the turkey and you’re thinking of turning it back to the oven, Don’t.

I repeat don’t.

You’ll get this advice from many chefs to rest your turkey covered in the oven in order to keep it warm. However, it is not ideal to do so.

Turning the turkey back into the oven for reheating will ruin the flavor, wasting all your day-long effort. Transfer to the cutting board for carving.

After you carve the turkey into pieces, pour piping hot sauce on it. It will automatically reheat the meat without ruining the flavor.

More Turkey Tips: how long can a turkey rest

If you want more turkey-cooking tips, we have them for you! With these tips, there’s no question as to whether or not your turkey will be juicy and delicious.

Smoked Turkey Temp And Time Guide (5 TIPS)

Best Smoke Flavor For Turkey

Wrap Up: How Long Can a Turkey Rest After Smoking

If you are still not clear about, ‘How long to rest turkey after smoking?’ Then let me give you a straight answer.

Let your turkey rest after smoking for 20 minutes to an hour. Don’t allow turkey resting time for so long that it gets unpalatable, nor waste its juices and moisture by carving the turkey too early.

Happy cooking, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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