Turkey Is Cooking Too Fast (Simple Ways to Slow It Down)

Is your turkey cooking too fast?

This can cause dry meat or a burnt and spoiled meal.

An entire turkey requires a long cooking time, love, and attention.

As a rule of thumb, you should estimate the timing before starting.

Which will help you manage the cooking process so your turkey isn’t done early.

Giving you plenty of time to welcome your guests and finish making your sides.

So let’s see what we can do to prevent and stop this from happening!

Techniques To Slow The Cooking Process of a Turkey

Below are the steps you need to take if you have already started cooking.

Don’t panic! As you can control and salvage the situation for a perfect smoked turkey.

First, let me be clear that we are discussing the entire bird and not specific cuts.


Reduce the Temperature

Easy and to the point.

Reduce the temperature by 50°F increments until you get the sweet spot.

Remove From Direct Heat

There will be hot spots close to the heat source in your cooking device.

Resituate the turkey away or to the bottom end of the turkey.

As the darker meat takes longer to cook.

Do Not Position Your Smoker in the Suns

If you are living in a hot country and cooking outside.

The outside ambient temp can increase the temp of your cooking chamber.

By up to 50°F!

Wrap the Top With Layers of Aluminum Foil

Wrap the bird with tin foil, specifically the turkey breasts.

Heavy-duty aluminum foil will reflect the heat and trap moisture.

And slow down the cooking process.

My Turkey Is Cooking Too Quickly – How Can I Stop It?

Check the Basics

I want you to check a few basics.

As usual, is the simple things that end up creating issues!

And working back from the beginning works best.

Are You Certain of Turkey’s Weight?

Knowing the exact weight of the turkey is imperative.

Because is the base for working out the cooking time.

Check the packaging again and make sure you got it right.

The lower weight, the less cooking time.

It could just be you had a smaller turkey than you realized!

Note: Read further to understand the calculations for an accurate cook time.


What Are You Using to Cook the Turkey?

There is a wide variety of cooking equipment that produces a perfect family meal.

Let’s say you are used to cooking in a conventional oven but moved to an electric smoker.

You may be cooking and the same temperature but there still can be differences.

Some of these are;

– How does it distribute heat?

– What are you using for fuel?

– Are you hanging your fresh turkey or is it on a wire rack?

Your oven temperature may be different from your smoker temp.

Understanding some of these nuances takes a bit of time and usage.

But still important to think about if you are cooking fast.

Are You Cooking at the Correct Temperature?

You also need the average cooking temp for working out the cooking time.

I recommend cooking at the following temps for turkey.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 30-35 minutes per pound at 200°F.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 20-25 minutes per pound at 275°F.

Turkey cooks at a rate of 10-15 minutes per pound at 375°F.

Is the Internal Temp Accurately Monitored?

The instruments monitoring the temperature may be wrong.

This can include a meat thermometer in the turkey itself.

Or the probes built into an electric smoker or oven.

Calibrating the Probes

Calibrating the meat probes is simple.

– Fill a glass with ice and top it up with cold water.

– Wait 2 minutes.

– Place the probe at the bottom of the glass.

– Wait 5 minutes.

– If the probe reads over 5°F then it is faulty.

Checking and calibrating the fixed probes in your device.

– Check there is no visible damage to the RTD sensor located as per instructions in your smoker.

– Check you have selected the correct setting on your conventional oven. (Fan-assisted)

– Test ambient temp with a calibrated probe.


Are You Maintaining Your Cooking Device?

– Empty the grease trap or the bottom of your oven for debris.

– Checking the auger shaft or auger motor for jammed pellets on a pellet smoker.

– Brushing down the hopper to remove dust on a pellet smoker

How Can I Tell if the Turkey My Is Cooking Too Quick?

– Your temperature probes have a high reading.

– The probes in the turkey have a low reading but the entire skin and outside are burning.

– Excess smoke and a burning smell.

– Assess for dry turkey meat.

– Carbonated or soggy skin. (depending if you are cooking frozen turkeys)

Prevention Tactics for a Turkey Cooking Too Quickly

Below are some points to consider when preparing your turkey.

To avoid it cooking too fast in the first place.

– Do not leave the turkey at room temperature for more than 60 minutes.

– Use good quality fuel and don’t use wood or coal that hasn’t been treated for cooking.

– Calibrate probes as per the above.

– When inserting the probes avoid them touching any bones.

– Let your cooking device come to a consistent temp before adding.

– Do not stuff with large amounts of fresh herbs without olive oil or butter.

Delicious Turkey Meat – The Facts You Need to Know

There are two different types of meat in a turkey.

White from the breast meat and dark from the thigh or legs.

The white meat has a lighter taste and is dense texture.

The darker meat has a gamey taste as it is closer to the bones.

You are monitoring 2 internal temps of the bird for doneness.

Insert at least 1 digital meat thermometer into these cuts.

To monitor the safe temperature.

The dark meat’s internal temperature should read 180°F.

The white meat’s internal temperature should read 160°F.


An Example of How to Estimate Timings for the Cooking Process

The average turkey weighs between 11-14lbs.

We touched on that you need the weight and cooking temp to estimate.

And the recommended temps.

Below is an example for calculating a regular turkeys cooking time.

1 x 12-pound turkey cooking at 200°F with a time per pound of 35 minutes.

12 x 35 = 420 minutes or 7 hours.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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