View Full Version : How long can I leave a cooked turkey in a cooler, wrapped in foil, before serving?

11-23-2011, 09:54 AM
Can I wrap up my cooked turkey in a couple layers of foil and put it in a cooler with some towels at about 9:30AM and leave it there safely until about 4:00PM? It's a 24 pound bird.

Why might I need to do this? Well, my kettle will not accomodate that big a bird (smoked a 12 pounder on Sunday for a pre-Thanksgiving meal with close friends), and cooking it in my MIL's oven is not an option - her oven is too small to fit that big bird, plus sides. So, I want to cook it at my house starting in the wee hours, then take it out to my MIL's house in the country to eat later in the day.

Thanks in advance brethren!

11-23-2011, 09:59 AM
First of all, holy crap that's a huge turkey. Second of all while you might be able to keep it warm in the cooler, you'll have rubbery skin after sitting in there (if you plan on even serving the skin) I'd try to find another way.

For instance, like you I have to travel out to my MIL's house, and my plan is pre-carved and transported in a pre-warmed (heated while the turkey is resting) crock pot. This may or may not work for you, but at least it's another option on the table. I can get away with it because we don't do the whole "carve the turkey at the table" presentation thing, and I won't be leaving skin on anything but the legs (which are mine!)

If you insist on trying the cooler method, what I would do is foil wrap some bricks and heat them up on the smoker with the bird for about an hour before it comes off the smoker, pack them around the bird in the cooler fill in the rest of the dead space with towels, and then DO NOT OPEN THE COOLER. You should be fine at that point.

11-23-2011, 10:16 AM
It's a MASSIVE turkey for sure! I was just wrestling the thing into my huge stock pot to brine in the fridge and it was quite a load to cart across the kitchen. My MIL bought it, for my family of 6, plus her. My four kids are 10 and under :=)

I have kept meat warm for a long time in crock pots before, but my concern here is that it will get mushy over that long of time. My MIL has one of those big electric roasters - think I could leave the cooked bird in there, uncarved, on low for that long without it drying out? I considered cooking it in her roaster, but last time she did one in there it clearly had a problem heating evenly enough to cook the bird right, it was a disaster. The bricks in the cooler idea is appealing...

11-23-2011, 11:00 AM
My plan is to add in about a quarter cup or so of homemade turkey stock sprinkled throughout to combat the drying. I also plan on using a crockpot with a gasketted clamp down lid. Don't think that willl really help you much though :\

I'd probably steer clear of the electric roaster, it'll have the same problem as the crockpot with drying out, though probably even worse.

Is there any way you can time the bird to come off the smoker closer to dinner? For instance, we're eating at 1pm and plan on leaving our house around noon. I'm not planning on having the turkey off the smoker until about 11am +/- 30mins.

11-23-2011, 11:05 AM
Unfortunately we have to leave the house by 10:00 to get out there by lunch time, then turkey dinner is at 4:00. I think I'll load up on bricks and go that route. Some bricks and an enormous bird should hold heat pretty well I think. Thanks!

11-23-2011, 11:06 AM
Yeah, sounds like your best option. It's what I would go with if I was in your situation.