turkey and thermoworks thermometer in pit barrel cooker

Ultimate Pit Barrel® Turkey Guide

Thanksgiving dinner has never been easier thanks to the Pit Barrel Cooker and Turkey Hangers!

We are exactly one week away from Thanksgiving. Cooking the turkey used to mean hours of pacing and peering into the oven or fryer. But thanks to the magic of the Pit Barrel® it has never been easier to host your family and friends!

We have created a Thanksgiving cheat sheet to help take the guess work out of deciding how much to make of each item. Check it out here: Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet!


To Brine or not to Brine? 

A common question we get is whether or not the turkey needs to be brined. If so, should it be a wet brine or dry brine? You may be new to the turkey game so let's take a step back and start by explaining the difference between a wet and a dry brine. 

A wet brine is when you soak the turkey in seasoned salted water for a period of time before cooking (preferably overnight) so that the turkey can absorb the water and flavors before cooking. You can add and mix all sorts of seasonings and flavors in the brine. 

A dry brine seasons the turkey just like a wet brine, but it does not use any water. Instead, a dry brine involves rubbing the salt and seasonings directly onto the meat and skin followed by a rest in the refrigerator for a period of time (preferably overnight) before cooking. 

Since the environment created inside the Pit Barrel® is so humid, it is not necessary to brine the turkey to acheive amazing results. However, it will most likely enhance the flavor as you are able to include seasonings that the turkey will absorb overnight. The salt dissolves some muscle proteins, which will lead to the meat contracting less during the cook and results in a more tender turkey. So if you want to brine, brine away my friend. But do not worry if you do not have the time, the turkey always comes out amazing! 


Should I use the Turkey Hanger or the regular hooks? 

The Turkey Hanger is an absolute game-changer that no Pit Barrel® owner should be without. First, it will make your life a lot easier. No need to find the best places to push the hooks through and no fear of a heavy turkey falling. The Turkey Hanger will ensure a perfect cook and a super-easy placement in the Pit Barrel®. All you have to do is take out one of the rebars as you descend the turkey and place the rebar right back in to rest the Turkey Hanger on. See the Pit Barrel® Turkey Hanger in action, or for the full Holiday Turkey recipe, click here!


Can I stuff the bird when I hang it?

Of course you can! Although you can stuff your smoked turkey prior to cooking, like in any cooker, it may require longer cook times to ensure proper doneness of the stuffing and may affect the moistness of the turkey. If you do choose to stuff your bird, make sure that all stuffing ingredients are thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.


If I cook two turkeys at a time, should I still follow the weight guidelines? 

The reason we keep emphasizing that two turkeys are better than one is not only because they usually come out better, but they also cook faster! Two 12lb turkeys will cook in just short of 4 hours where as two 16lb will cook in about 4.5 hours! 


How do I make sure my Thanksgiving Turkey is done? 

When the internal temperature reaches 165° in the dark meat, you can remove the turkey from the Pit Barrel® and lightly wrap it in foil until ready to serve! 


pit barrel turkey cooking guide