Turkey Breast Entree is often overlooked in favor of the Turkey Roast. Turkey breast is a relatively lean roast but one that can be a bit more challenging to prepare than many people realize. Our simple smoked turkey recipe will give you the juiciest turkey you’ve ever eaten, with a tender outside and moist and flavorful inside. Best of all, it is so easy, anyone can do it!
This article will show you a few easy techniques and tips for smoking a turkey breast tender and tasty.
What to prefer? Smoked Whole Turkey or Turkey Brest?
Smoke a turkey breast, not a whole turkey, the breast meat is much more moist, juicy, and flavorful than the dark meat.
A smoked turkey breast is a first-rate turkey Christmas dinner and far better than a smoked whole turkey. It’s ready to eat the day you smoke it, and it’s perfect for sandwiches, salads, and all your favorite recipes for smoking a turkey breast. It’s also a great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.
The smoked turkey breast is a different beast than the roasted whole turkey. It takes a little more heat to get it done right and you don’t want to overcook and dry out the meat.
Stick to this article and we’ll tell you how to smoke a turkey breast without ruining it.
How to Start Smoking a Turkey Breast?
Before starting the whole process, you need to do some preparations to equip yourself with all the necessary elements you will be needing during the smoking session.
Here are some things you’ll need:
–A smoker — we recommend the Masterbuilt Propane Smoker MB20051316 because it’s easy to use, easy to clean, creates good flavor, and is heavy-duty.
–Injector — we personally like the OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster with Cleaning Brush because it’s professional-grade and makes injecting a lot easier.
–Cling wrap or kitchen plastic wrap — this is great for wrapping up your finished product after it has been smoked.
–Of course a Turkey breast and its ingredients.
Defrosting Turkey Breast
Most turkeys are frozen. If you have a frozen turkey, you will need to plan on thawing it a day or two before cooking. Make sure the turkey breast is thawed. We love to inject and rub the turkey 24 hours ahead of time to make sure the flavor is completely soaked in.
Thawing the turkey more than 48 hours in advance is not recommended because it can dry out the meat.
Rinse and pat dry the turkey once it is thawed.
PRO TIP ON HOW TO INJECT A TURKEY BREAST: When injecting a turkey, you want to make a few holes as possible while still getting all of the turkey inside. The way you do this is by poking the needle in and moving it in different directions through the one hole until the whole turkey is injected.
Rub for smoking a Turkey
The spices we use for making a perfect bbq rub for smoking a turkey are:
- onion salt
- garlic salt
- chili powder
- fresh ground pepper
This is a step that can be easily forgotten, but it is such an important step. We usually take room temperature melted butter and rub it all over the turkey. Then we sprinkle on spices and use our hands to rub the butter into the skin, as well. Be sure to get the spices in between each nook and cranny.
And on top of the bird too. Then you’ll want to let your injections marinate in the meat for an hour or so. If you have time, we recommend letting it marinate for up to 24 hours.
Turkey’s breast is lean, which can cause it to dry out as it cooks. A good way to prevent this is by cooking it until the internal temperature reaches 165º F and brining it.
We sometimes prefer wet brine the turkey overnight as it boosts the taste and saves the cooking time.
Wet brine or dry brine; any way is a must. We shall discuss here both methods for our reader’s convenience.
A wet brine is a two-step process: brining with a solution of 2 quarts of water to 1 cup of salt, and then resting the turkey breast for 24 hours in the fridge.
After 24 hours, take the turkey breast out and place it on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Cover it and leave it in your fridge for an additional 12 hours for the salt to be evenly distributed throughout the meat. The skin will dry out during this process too, which will result in crispy skin when the turkey is cooked.
A dry brine is when you rub salt on your turkey. It draws out the moisture, which allows the turkey to take in more produce while it cooks. We opted for a wet brine to introduce more flavor. A dry brine only affects the moisture in the meat, while a wet brine can carry its aromas and flavors into it.
Recipe for smoking a Turkey Breast
Total time in making: 4 hours 30 minutes
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cook session: 4 hours
Hey folks, after a couple of trials, this is our recipe for smoked turkey breast. It’s flavorful and juicy, perfect for Thanksgiving. This smoked turkey breast recipe will have you craving smoked meats all year!
The best part about making this recipe is that it’s extremely easy — we hope you enjoy it!
- 3 quarts of cold water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Herb butter making
- 2 cups Applewood or Cherry Wood chips
- 5-7 pounds natural, unbrined whole turkey breast
- 9 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- oregano leaves
- thyme leaves
- rosemary leaves
- sage leaves
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups apple juice or cider
- 1 disposable 13×9-inch aluminum foil tray
- Pair of gloves
- 1 injection syringe
- Charcoal or gas grill
Smoking turkey without brining is not a good idea as the bird gets dry and leaves no moisture in it. So let’s start with the most important step, i.e. Brining.
For brine, combine water, salt, and brown sugar in a large pot and whisk to make a solution. Then add turkey breast into it and make sure it is fully submerged in the water.
Refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
Before cooking, take the turkey out of the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes and pat dry with a paper towel.
Now, in a small bowl, combine equal parts unsalted butter and minced garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary, ground black pepper (no salt added), ground mustard, and red pepper flakes. Smear the melted butter all over the turkey breast with your hands. The goal is to cover as much of the surface area as possible without tearing through the skin itself. Then cover the breast with a layer of toothpicks to secure the skin in place during cooking (the skin will shrink during cooking if you do not secure it with toothpicks).
USING A PROPANE SMOKER: Use a pair of tongs to remove the foil packet containing the wood chips. Place it directly on top of the primary burner. Leave the other burners off, and heat until they start smoking. The grill temperature will depend on your particular model, but try to maintain a 325°F–350°F temperature throughout the cooking.
Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature.
Place the turkey on the cooking grate right over the top of the wood chips. Check the internal temperature about 30 minutes later with an instant-read thermometer; you should be close to 165 degrees F. The skin should be amber in color. Continue cooking until the internal temperature registers between 160°F and 163°F in several places on the breast. This could take anywhere from 1½–2 1/2 hours depending on the size of your bird.
When you get the desired internal temperature of 162°F-163°F, transfer the turkey to a cutting slab, cover immediately with foil, and let it cool for 20-25 minutes before slicing.
After a long wait, slice and enjoy the smoky flavor of turkey!
Special instructions for smoking a Turkey
- When grilling a turkey, you should use indirect heat instead of direct heat. On a charcoal grill, push the hot coals to one side, and place the turkey over the opposite side. On a gas grill, turn off one of the burners and use the other burner for the turkey.
- The skin is the most important thing to watch. Visually check the skin for damage every 15 minutes. If it starts to blacken, tent the foil over it to keep it from burning. The radiant heat from a grill or smoker can quickly burn skin, so be sure to protect your meat from direct exposure.
Tips for smoking a Turkey
- Buy an unbrined natural breast piece of turkey. Brine it by yourself advised in the above-mentioned recipe
- If you feel the turkey is not fully submerged in brine, add more water to the pot
- Smoke a turkey that is properly thawed at room temperature, otherwise, you may feel unwanted water and moisture in your end product
- Do not slice the turkey right after removing it from the smoker. Let it cool for 20 minutes at least else you may burn your hands
- Use cherry wood chunks for smoking. It gives a sweet flavor.
- Purists will tell you that true smoked turkey must be smoked over mesquite, hickory, or alder wood. But you can make a wonderful smoked turkey breast with any kind of wood chips if you have a pro recipe as we shared above!
Smoking a Turkey on different grills
SMOKING A TURKEY ON TRAEGER
Traeger Grills Pro 575 best charcoal grill smoker combo is a one-stop shop for all your grilling needs.
Place the turkey on the grill, and smoke for three to four hours. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees in the breast. Keep in mind that the turkey will keep cooking once it’s taken off the Traeger grill, so it will reach a final temperature of 165 degrees F in the breast.
You can control your grill smoker combo from anywhere. With WiFiRE technology, all it takes is an internet connection and the Traeger app on your phone or tablet to get things cooking in no time! Get that perfectly cooked breast without babysitting.
The amazing thing about this? You don’t need any technical expertise; Alexa will do everything else while you relax with one eye open, thanks to her voice-controlled capabilities.
SMOKING A TURKEY ON A PELLET GRILL
For a pellet smoker, you can choose the wood pellets of your choice. Then remove your turkey from the packaging and pat it dry from inside and outside with paper towels to remove excess marinade. Place the turkey on the grill grates, close the lid, and set the temperature to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This bird needs to be cooked on a pellet grill for two hours.
Our strong recommendation is Camp Chef 24″ Woodwind Pellet Grill with Sidekick with WIFI & Bluetooth Connectivity. You can now cook your food to the perfect temperature with a new PID and WIFI-enabled Controller. Plus, the Camp Chef Connect App will keep you informed of all the progress by alerting you when your meat reaches your desired temperature.
The slide and grill technology give a temperature range of 150-500 degrees Fahrenheit for indirect flame cooking. It is very convenient to cook any meat properly, retaining its tenderness, and giving a smoky flavor.
You can change from the indirect flame to a direct flame simply by pulling a knob, which gives you more temperature up to 650 F.
SMOKING A TURKEY WITH AN ELECTRIC SMOKER
Prepare your CHAR-BROIL ELECTRIC MEAT SMOKER at 225-240°F with indirect heat. After the smoker is preheated, place the pan with the turkey breasts in it. Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 162°F. After the turkey is cooked and rested, slice it into thin pieces. You should see a lot of fat rendered out, so use a spoon to collect it and put it on top of your meat before you serve.
- How to Smoke a Turkey in a wood smoker?
Answer: Light a wood fire in the firebox of a wood smoker. Preheat the smoker to 200°. Scatter a few soaked wood chips around the coals. Add water to the water pan on the bottom of the smokebox.
Take the turkey out of the brine and pat dry. Set the turkey on a drip pan over the coals. Smoke for about 5 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey registers 165 degrees F. Add extra coals and wood as needed to maintain temperature. Then transfer onto a slicing board and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
How long to smoke a Turkey at 225?
Answer: 30 minutes per pound is the perfect time for a tender cooked turkey.
How long to smoke a Turkey at 250?
Answer: As we mentioned above, 30 minutes per pound can be estimated to cook a good size turkey so, at 250 degrees F, it usually takes 6 hours to smoke.
Is Masterbuilt good for smoking a Turkey?
Answer: Masterbuilt is a great choice not only for smoking turkey but any other meat. It has a combination of the most useful and important features such as usability and builds quality. It also boasts a combination of the most important and useful features like temperature sensors, chrome-coated racks, BTUs, etc. which is something not often seen in other gas smokers.
Models like Masterbuilt MB 20051316, Masterbuilt MB20050716, and Masterbuilt MB20074719 are very easy to use and give a good smoking session with so much flavor.
How to do slow smoking a Turkey?
Answer: For slow cooking turkey, you need to keep your bird on the grill for approximately 8 hours with a continuous check and flipping it.
What is the best cooking time for smoking a Turkey Breast?
Answer: 3-4 hours are usually enough for smoking a flavorful turkey breast.
Thanksgiving Turkey is a traditional favorite for the holidays, but oftentimes it can be dry. We hope you enjoyed this article leaving you with no more queries. But if you still have, no worries, drop a comment below and we shall get back to you in no time. HAPPY SMOKING!