You’ve decided to smoke the turkey this year. But you’ve got a big family, and you need to smoke more than one. Can you smoke both at the same time?
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you will discover:
- If you can smoke two turkeys at once
- Tips for smoking multiple turkeys
- And much more!
Jump to Section
Can You Smoke Two Turkeys at Once?
We’ve all been there, you want to smoke your turkey, but because of the clearance of your smoker, you can only get a 12lb bird. That won’t feed your entire family, however, so you bought two…but can they both go in the smoker at once?
You can absolutely smoke two turkeys at once. Not only can you, but you should if you have enough room in your smoker! Smoking two smaller turkeys cuts down on the smoking time while giving you more meat to enjoy.
Before you get carried away and start seasoning and smoking your two turkeys, keep reading, as there are some tips and tricks you need to know in order to successfully smoke two turkeys at once.
Why Should You Smoke Two Turkeys at Once?
While it might seem a bit odd to buy two smaller birds instead of one big bird, this is actually the best way to cut down on the smoking time of your turkeys.
When you smoke a turkey, you calculate the time based on how much the turkey weighs. We recommend smoking your turkey at 275°F, at which temperature you need to allow 20-25 minutes per pound of turkey. So a 20-pound turkey would take almost 7 hours to smoke!
You can trim this down by instead selecting 2, 10-pound birds which would only take a little over three hours to smoke. Plus, when you’ve got smaller birds, this gives you a little more time to play around. If you want to smoke your turkey at a lower temperature, you can, and it won’t take a full 24 hours.
Not to mention that now you can offer your guests two different types of turkey. Give one a spiced skin while placing butter underneath the skin of the other. No matter what you decide to do, smoking two smaller turkeys is definitely better than smoking one large one!
Where Can You Buy Small Turkeys?
Unfortunately, because bigger is always better in America, you may have some difficulty finding small turkeys. Typically 12lbs-15lbs is the smallest turkey sold in most supermarkets.
If you know you want to smoke two smaller turkeys this year, consider looking around your area to find a farmer that sells them. They are typically better able to accommodate weight requests, and if they are close enough, you can have yourself a fresh turkey which is even better than a frozen one.
For those who live in an area with no turkey farms, consider asking your supermarket if they can order two smaller birds for you. Most supermarkets (most notably the Kroger brand) stock their shelves based on requests, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Either of these options requires quite a bit of advanced planning, so although the holidays may not be for a couple of months, the time to order your turkey is now!
How Much Turkey Do You Need?
Before you order or purchase your two turkeys, it’s critical to know just how much you need. We find the best way is to estimate 1.25-1.5 pounds for each guest you have coming over.
Of course, with young children, you can estimate a bit less, and if you want leftovers, you’ll want to estimate more, but we always suggest making extra so you can have smoked turkey sandwiches in the days following your event!
You also need to keep in mind that, unlike boneless meats, much of the turkey is inedible. Most people estimate that bones and other innards make up about one-third of the turkey’s weight which is just another reason for you to round up.
The Pros and Cons of Smoking Two Turkeys
While there are many upsides to smoking two turkeys, there are also some downsides you need to consider before you make your decision. We’ve broken them down for you in the following lists.
- Smaller turkey, shorter defrost
- Smaller turkey, less cooking time
- You can try two seasoning methods
- Easier to manage smaller birds on the smoker
- Easier to adjust the flavor of the birds by adjusting the temperature of the smoker
- Smaller turkeys can be available fresh
- If the turkeys don’t have equal airflow, they might cook at different rates
- The turkeys can’t touch in the smoker
- Preparing two turkeys is more work
- You need a large smoker because the lid of the smoker must be able to close with both turkeys
- May be harder to find in the supermarket
As you can see, the pros and cons are about equal, and it will probably come down to the size of your smoker that will make the decision for you!
Tips for Smoking Two Turkeys
Ready to try smoking two turkeys at the same time? Here are some tips to give you the best results!
1. Check Your Smoker Before You Buy
Not all smokers can hold two turkeys. You need to check the clearance of your smoker as well as the width before you purchase two birds.
If you have time, we recommend heading to the store and measuring a few birds. Once you get an idea of how long they are per the weight you are purchasing (remember, the length can vary), check that this fits in your smoker. Remember that the smoker door must be able to close for your turkeys to smoke properly and that the turkeys shouldn’t touch.
Each turkey must reach an internal temperature of 165°F before it is safe to eat.
2. Buy Extra Fuel
This is just a general tip, but you should always have extra fuel on hand before a holiday smoke session. The last thing you want to do is run out of fuel mid-smoke and need to finish your turkey in the oven.
Smoking two turkeys will take a few hours, so ensure you have enough fuel on hand for your anticipated smoke time, plus an additional two hours just to be on the safe side.
3. Know Your Layout
Many smokers capable of hosting two turkeys have two separate racks. Know that one rack (the one closer to the smoke source) will be hotter than the other. When cooking two turkeys, if you don’t want one to finish before the other, you will need to plan to rotate your turkeys halfway through the anticipated cooking time.
When you go to swap them, this is also a good time to check the temperature of the turkeys to see if one is cooking faster than the other.
Can You Smoke Turkeys with Other Meat?
Making a holiday brisket to go with your turkey? The good news is, you can smoke them together.
You need to be careful, though, because turkey is a much leaner meat than most cuts of pork or beef, thus, you need to smoke it at a higher temperature, and low and slow isn’t really the way to go.
In addition, even if you cook both at 275°F, know that they will finish at different times. A brisket will take much longer than a turkey to cook (like 6 hours longer!), so you will want to take this into account in your timing to ensure both are done at the same time!
What Other Meats Should You Smoke with Turkey?
The best meats to smoke with turkey are those which are lean, such as a pork loin. But know that the two pieces of meat will likely finish cooking at different times.
Our best recommendation, if you have a two-shelf smoker, is to put the pork loin on top of the turkey, allowing the drippings to drip down. This will give you an amazing savory flavor. Put the turkey in first, however, as it will take much longer to cook than a nice savory pork loin.
If you’ve got time, a ham is another meat that can be smoked with turkey at 275°F. But you’ll have to wake up early because this is a meat that will easily take 5-7 hours to cook. Again, put it on the top rack and let the juices drip down on your turkey when you add it to the smoker later.
Final Thoughts on Smoking Multiple Turkeys at Once
Overall, if you need a lot of turkey for your event, smoking two turkeys at once is the best way to save time as well as expand on your smoking experience. Before you buy two turkeys, however, ensure you take the time to measure your grill and ensure that it will fit two turkeys.
If it won’t, don’t be afraid to swap one turkey for a pork loin or another smaller lean cut of meat. Just make sure it’s one that cooks around the same temperature that you’ve decided on for your turkey.