Finishing Smoked Turkey In The Oven (Best Of Both Worlds)

Uh-oh. Panic strikes.

You’ve run out of fuel for your smoker and you’re smoked turkey hasn’t quite made it to perfection. What’s the designated turkey chef to do?

Here’s the trick: no matter what stage your smoked turkey is at in the smoker, you can always finish it in the oven!

In fact, there’s a good chance your smoked turkey may even come out better when it’s finished in the oven.

Here’s what I mean, and you can execute the oven-finished turkey flawlessly.

For many, smoked turkey is a seasonal festivity. But, for those barbecue fanatics like me who smoke turkey far more often, you pick up a few extra things, and you learn from the many more mistakes that can happen along the way.

One such mistake is running out of fuel. Yes, embarrassing I know. Especially when you’re expecting guests to arrive and the turkey just isn’t quite done.

Either that or your smoked turkey’s hitting the stall and you don’t have all this spare time on your hands.

Luckily, you can always finish your smoked turkey in the oven, no matter what stage of cooking it is at!

Sure, if it’s early in the cook it may not absorb as much smokiness, but it will still come out tender and flavorful, with ridiculously crispy skin that’s the stuff of legends.

How To Finish Smoked Turkey In The Oven

Let’s be honest. A lot of the work of cooking a turkey comes from the preparation. From brining, binding, stuffing, injecting, and placing mounds of herbed butter under the skin.

But, assuming you’ve already started the smoking process, this should all have been done by now!

So, whether you’ve run out of fuel for the smoker, are running out of time, or for any other reasons, here’s exactly how you can finish smoked turkey in the oven:

  1. Preheat The Oven ASAP.
  2. Finish Off The Smoke (As Much As Possible)
  3. Oven Bake At 325-350°F
  4. Rest & Serve

This process can be replicated with a whole turkey, turkey legs or breasts, a smoked spatchcocked turkey, or even a precooked turkey! Let’s get into it.

1. Preheat The Oven ASAP

As soon as you know you won’t be finishing your turkey in your smoker it’s vital you preheat your oven. This is so that you minimize any time that the turkey is NOT cooking. 

After all, you don’t want the cooking process to stop, otherwise, it’s much more likely your turkey will become dry or rubbery.

Preheat your oven to 325-350°F, preparing to finish the turkey in the oven. If possible, this also includes preheating the oven dish that you’ll be using for your turkey too!

2. Finish Off The Smoke (As Much As Possible)

Even if you’re running out of fuel, you can continue to keep your turkey in the smoker so long as it’s still holding it’s temp. This will ensure your turkey get’s the maximum smokiness!

But, as soon as your smoker begins to dip in temperature, it’s best to make the move as quickly as you can from the smoker to the oven.

When transferring your turkey from the smoker, be sure to place it into an oven-safe dish to capture any running juices for later basting or for use in any sauces to come. 

3. Oven Bake At 325-350°F

Once you’ve got your smoked turkey in the oven, it’s just a matter of monitoring its cooking.

Just like in the smoker, you’ll want your turkey to reach the USDA recommended serving temperature of 165°F, in the deepest parts of the turkey.

Once it’s reached 165°F in the breast and thigh, you can safely remove your turkey from the oven. 

Take a deep breath and relax! The hard work is done.

4. Rest & Serve

Even though patience is usually running thin at this point, it’s highly recommended to rest your turkey for at least 20 minutes before carving into it.

If you’re dealing with a large turkey over about 16 pounds, you may even want to keep it resting a little longer.

Resting your turkey before cutting into it prevents the juices from running. Instead, they’re reabsorbed into the meat, for an overall more tender and juicy result.

After resting, it’s the moment of truth.

It’s time to carve up the glorious centerpiece and serve it to you whoever is lucky enough to have some!

Why Oven Finished Turkey Is So Good

The first time you’re finishing your smoked turkey in the oven, you might expect the result to fall short of what could have been.

However, once you’ve done it once, you’ll quickly realize there are some clear benefits to finishing your smoked turkey in the oven.

  1. The hot air of an oven is often less harsh than the smokey air in a smoker. This means, not only will your turkey skin come out lighter mahogany brown, but it’ll be less likely to charr or get chewy or rubbery (or even come out with black skin).
  2. The temperature consistency of an oven is almost always greater than a smoker. Fewer temperature fluctuations mean a more steady and even cooking.
  3. Easy monitoring. Not that you want to be opening and closing the oven door frequently, but since ovens normally have a glass door, you can monitor how well your turkey is coming along throughout the cook.

In my experience, it seems like it’s easier to keep your turkey moist when you finish it in the oven versus the smoker.

Downsides Of Finishing Smoked Turkey In Oven

The most obvious downside of finishing smoked turkey in the oven is the inevitable: less smokey flavor. 

However, so long as your turkey has been in the smoke for at least an hour, it will have absorbed a good amount of smokiness anyway!

But, if you’ve run out of fuel a bit early, then you’ll have a less smokey smoked turkey – which honestly isn’t the end of the world!

Another downside is that you may underestimate how quickly your turkey will finish cooking in the oven.

Although a faster cooking time can actually be a benefit, if you don’t expect it then you might find your turkey’s done too early before your guests arrive.

If you’ve found your turkeys done and you’ve still got an hour or more to spare, check out what to do when your turkey’s done too early.

That’s All!

As it turns out, your oven and backyard smoker don’t have to compete for your attention. What’s clear when you’re finishing your smoked turkey in the oven is that they’re better off working together.

Pairing that classic oomph of smokiness from the wood smoke, and the steady, even cooking of a conventional oven. 

The result? A marvelous, oven-finished smoked turkey.

Your guests wouldn’t have even guessed it was finished in the oven, believe me!

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