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Food Safety Issues/Thanksgiving turkey refrigeration


We are cooking a butterball turkey on a Big Green Egg and need to transport it 3 hours & serve it several hours later. Does it need refrigeration, since I think it is considered smoked ?

Hi Patsy,

Since you say that once the turkey is removed from the heat source it will be 5+ hours before it is served, it will either need to be kept hot (above 135 degrees F) or cooled down to 41 degrees F and transported. Keeping it hot isn't really the best answer since poultry held at 135 or above tends to dry out fairly quickly.

Is it possible to cook the bird ahead of time, cool it and slice it, then transport it cold on ice to your destination where it would be reheated?  This would be the safesty way to travel with a turkey.

And no....smoking does not make the turkey safer.  The type of smoking you are doing in the Big Green Egg is imparting flavor only,  Smoking is not rendering the turkey safer to consume if left in the Danger Zone -- 41 to 135 degrees F - for over 4 hours.

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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