Embark on a culinary adventure with this Smoked Turkey Breast recipe - an easy yet incredibly flavorful way to prepare turkey that's perfect for both special occasions and everyday enjoyment.
You may never cook turkey any other way once you discover the mouthwatering flavour and ease of smoking. I made these smoked turkey breasts on my Traeger Pellet Grill but you can use any smoker for this recipe.
If you don't own a smoker no problem! Instructions on how to roast these turkey breasts in the oven is included below.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Easy to Make: Simple and straightforward instructions make this recipe accessible to both novice and experienced cooks.
Irresistibly Delicious: Smoked turkey is undeniably delicious. Brining the meat and topping with herbed butter not only keeps it from drying out but also adds a ton of flavour.
Versatile: You can switch up the seasonings for smoked turkey breast depending on your own taste. Omit the butter or use your favourite BBQ rub for a twist.
Perfect for Meal Prep: Smoked turkey breast is a delicious way to add lean protein to salads or sandwiches throughout the week.
🥘Ingredients and Substitutions
Kosher Salt - Table salt or fine sea salt can be used as a substitute however you want to reduce the amount of fine salt to half a cup.
Brown Sugar: White sugar, honey, or maple syrup can be other options for sweetness.
Fresh Herbs: Dried herbs can be used if fresh herbs are unavailable. Dried herbs are much stronger than fresh. A general rule is 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs is equal to 1 teaspoon of dried.
Salted Butter: Unsalted butter can also be used. Add salt to taste if desired.
Olive Oil (for basting): Melted butter or vegetable oil can be used as an alternative.
For a complete list of ingredients see the recipe card below.
Citrus Infusion: Brighten things up by bumping up the lemon rind or adding rind from other citrus fruits such as oranges and limes.
Spice Things Up: Add cayenne pepper or dried chili flakes to the butter mixture.
Dairy Free: To make this recipe dairy free you can replace the butter with a non-dairy alternative or mix the ingredients with 2 to 3 tablespoon of olive oil and rub that on the skin.
BBQ Rub: For a completely different flavour consider rubbing the breasts with your favourite spice rub instead of using the butter mixture. Click here for a homemade BBQ Spice Rub Recipe.
Oven Roasted: If you don't have a smoker or prefer not to smoke the turkey breasts, bake in the oven at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 20 minutes per pound for bone-in , or until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
🔪How to Make Smoked Turkey Breast
Step 1 - Mix together the brine ingredients with the hot water. Turn on the heat and stir just until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and add ice water. Let sit until cooled.
Step 2 - Add turkey breasts to the brine and place in the refrigerator overnight. Use any container that will fit the breasts and the brine.
Step 3 - Mix together the herbed butter mixture and set aside at room temperature.
Step 4 - Remove breasts from brine, pat dry. Separate skin from flesh, creating a pocket. Using half of the butter mixture for each breast, stuff under the skin.
Step 5 - Place breasts on a wire rack over a pan or directly on the grill with a drip tray underneath.
Step 6 - After one hour, baste the breasts every 45 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when taken in the thickest part of the flesh.
Step 7 - Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the bone and thinly slice.
For detailed instructions see the recipe card below.
Prepare your ingredients - In the restaurant world we call this "mise en place" which means "everything in its place". This is my number 1 piece of cooking advice. Before you start cooking make sure you have all your ingredients measured, chopped, drained etc. This is especially helpful when making one-pan meals that come together quickly.
Use a Meat Thermometer: Invest in a good-quality meat thermometer to accurately monitor the internal temperature. Aim for 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast for safe and juicy meat.
Even Brining: Ensure the turkey breasts are fully submerged in the brine for even flavor distribution. Any container that will fit both the breasts and the brine will work. If using a bag, place the bag in a container or on a tray in case of leaks.
Dry the Skin: Before smoking, pat the turkey skin completely dry. Dry skin helps achieve a crispy texture during smoking.
Consistent Temperature: Maintain a consistent smoking temperature. Fluctuations can affect cooking times and may result in unevenly cooked turkey.
Basting adds moisture and helps develop a flavorful crust. It's an essential step in achieving a golden, bronzed exterior on the smoked turkey breast.
Absolutely! You can use boneless turkey breasts for this recipe. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as boneless breasts may cook slightly faster than bone-in ones. Additionally, removing the bones allows for easier slicing and serving.
Store leftover smoked turkey breast in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to 3 days.
Yes you can! Smoked turkey breast makes delicious leftovers. Heat in the microwave or covered in a preheated 350 degree F oven, until heated through.
Yes, you can freeze smoked turkey breast for future use. It is delicious used in soups, chilis, and stews. Ensure it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place it in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Use within 3 months for the best quality.
What to Serve With Smoked Turkey Breast
Smoked Turkey Breast
- 2 split turkey breast halves, bone-in, skin-on
- 4 cups hot tap water
- 8 cups ice water
- ¾ cup Kosher salt, or ½ cup table or fine sea salt
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 8 tablespoon salted butter (112 g/4 oz)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, or zest from one lemon
- 4 teaspoon mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley
- olive oil for basting
- In a large pot, combine hot tap water and brine seasonings. Heat and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat, add 8 cups ice water, and cool. Place turkey breasts in the brine, refrigerate overnight.4 cups hot tap water, ¾ cup Kosher salt,, ½ cup brown sugar,, 2 tablespoon black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 8 cups ice water
- Mix herb butter ingredients, set aside.8 tablespoon salted butter, 1 clove garlic,, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon zest,, 4 teaspoon mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped,
- Preheat smoker to 225° - 250°F, following manufacturer’s instructions. Use any hardwood for smoking.
- Remove breasts from brine, pat dry. Separate skin from flesh, creating a pocket. Rub half of the butter mixture under the skin of each breast.
- Place breasts on a wire rack over a pan or on the smoker grill with a drip tray underneath.
- After one hour, start basting with olive oil every 45 minutes. Smoke until the outside is bronzed and internal temperature reaches 165°F, taking 2 to 3 hours.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing along the breastbone. For cold serving, cool to room temperature, remove from bone, and slice. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.