How I Smoke Turkey Breast


    Smoked turkey breast is a tasty variation of the traditional oven roasted turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I prefer to smoke just the breast for two reasons. My family likes white meat and the smoking time is considerably less.


    Thaw your frozen turkey breast in the fridge, I allow 48 hours. Remove the breast from the package and rinse with cold water. Trim excess fat if you feel the need. Leave as much of the skin on the bird as possible. It protects the meat from drying as it smokes.

    Separate the skin from the breast. Be very careful that you don't tear the skin as you pull it free. Slowly work it loose with your fingers, from the rear to front. Don't remove the skin from the breast, all you're doing is exposing the meat so you can apply the seasonings. Pull the skin up toward the neck, like you would remove a t-shirt.

    Apply the seasonings to the exposed breast. You can be creative here as you wish. I sprinkle fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder and mesquite flavored salt on the breast. Pull the skin back down over the breast, covering the seasoned breast with the skin.

Smoke Turkey Tip I use either kosher or sea salt, the wife and I believe it has a better taste. If you want to put extra seasoning on your turkey, first rub the turkey with olive oil. This will give the seasoning something to stick to and add flavor as well.


Smoking the meat

    Place turkey breast in smoker thats been heated to 225 degrees. I like to use oak charcoal briquettes then add my chunks of wood for the smoke flavor. With turkey, I use seasoned wild cherry wood. Oak is good, as well as pecan or hickory. Note the time you place the turkey in the smoker.

how I smoke a turkey breast, video 1

how I smoke a turkey breast, video 2

Here are a three tricks I use that I think makes my smoked turkey great.

1. I place a tincan (12oz) of water in the smoker with the turkey. This adds moisture to the chamber and helps keep the meat juicy. A can of your favorite beer is also good. Alternatively, you can drink a can of your favorite beer and add the water to the empty beer can to place in the smoker.

2. After an hour in the smoker, I place a sheet of aluminum foil over the turkey breast. This shields the meat from some of the smoke and prevents it from being overpowered with smoke flavor. Don't wrap the breast with the foil, kind of make a loose tent over it.

3. If you don't have one, get yourself a meat thermometer before you smoke your next turkey breast. This is crucial, the reason most smoked turkeys that don't turn out right is they are overcooked. Overcooked turkey is dry and has less flavor.

    Maintain a temperature of 225-250 degrees throughout the smoking session. Generally, allow 30-40 minutes for every pound of turkey. Every 45 minutes or so, I baste the turkey with melted butter. Sometimes I add some garlic salt to the melted butter. Feel free to experiment a little.

    Try not to open the lid of the smoker anymore than you have to. Opening it allows the heat to escape from the cooking chamber, which adds additional time for the cooking/smoking process.

    About an hour before I expect the meat to be finished, I insert the meat thermometer probe into the breast, being careful not to touch the bone with it. When the inside temperature of the breast reaches 156 degrees the meat is cooked and I remove it from the smoker. Even after the meat has been removed from the smoker, the meats's internal temperature will rise an additional 5-10 degrees. Knowing this tip will enable you to prevent overcooking the breast.

    Once inside the house, I wrap the cooked turkey breast in aluminum foil and place it breast side down, cavity up, in order for the juices and smoke flavor to disperse evenly into the flesh of the breast. I place a couple of folded dish towels on top to help insulate the heat and let the breast sit for 30 minutes before carving.

Remove the aluminum foil wrap and slice as usual. Salt to taste and enjoy your smoked turkey breast!


Is a turkey to big? Try my smoked chicken recipe for a delicious and healthy smoked chicken. Also, it takes about half the time to smoke chicken as it does a turkey.

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