Looking for a delicious and easy way to prepare a mouthwatering smoked turkey breast? The combination of the brine and herb butter impart flavors you’ve never tasted before in a turkey breast. Follow my recipe below to achieve the absolute best turkey breast you’ve ever had with a kiss of smoke and crispy skin.
How do you smoke a turkey breast?
Smoked turkey breast is typically made by first brining the turkey breast to enhance flavor and tenderness. After brining, it's seasoned with spices and then placed in a smoker, where it's slowly cooked with wood, such as hickory or apple, to achieve that distinct smoky flavor.
How long to smoke a turkey breast?
The time it takes to smoke a turkey breast varies by weight and smoking conditions. Following this recipe, it should take anywhere between 2-3 hours to smoke a turkey breast at 275°F.
How to get crispy skin on smoked turkey breast?
Here are a couple of ways you can achieve crispy skin on a smoked turkey breast:
- Air dry the turkey for 24 hours in the refrigerator to remove excess moisture from the skin.
- Apply baking powder to the skin prior to smoking.
- Rub butter or oil all over the turkey skin to enhance its crispiness.
Smoked Turkey Breast
- 1 unseasoned turkey breast, bone-in or boneless
Butter Herb Mixture
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, minced
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
- 1/4 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Kosher salt
- 4 orange peel strips
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 gallon of water
Brine the turkey breast
If times allows, you'll want to brine the turkey breast 2 days prior to smoking it. This will allow for 24 hours of brining followed by 24 hours of air drying (more on this in the next step). If you're short on time, brine the turkey breast for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours prior to smoking. Combine the brine ingredients in a saucepan filled with 2 cups of water and heat until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. Most recipes recommend adding the ingredients to cold water, but I feel it really pulls out the flavors of the ingredients if it's warmed first. Place the turkey breast in a brining bag or container. Add the brine mixture and remaining water to full submerge the turkey breast. You can add more water if needed.
Air dry the brined turkey breast
After the turkey breast is finished brining, remove it from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey breast on a wire rack or any rack that will allow air to pass on all sides. Place the turkey breast in the refrigerator and allow to dry overnight, preferably 24 hours. This will remove the excess moisture from the skin allowing it to get much crispier when cooked. If you don't have time to air dry to turkey breast, see the notes section for additional tips on achieving crispy skin.
Apply the herb butter mixture to the chicken breast
In a small bowl, combine the herb butter mixture ingredients and mix well. Gently slide your finger between the skin and flesh to separate the skin being careful not to rip it. Slather the mixture under and over the skin on the chicken breast.
Preheat the smoker
Preheat smoker to 275°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside. If using a Traeger with the Super Smoke setting, I recommend turning it on to impart as much smoke as possible.
Smoke the turkey breast
Smoke the turkey breast until the internal temperature reaches 110℉, approximately 1-2 hours. I recommend using an internal meat thermometer to easily keep track the temperature.
Once the turkey hits the target temperature of 110℉, increase the temperature of the smoker to 375℉. Continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160℉ in the thickest part of the breast, about 1 more hour. The smoked turkey breast will continue to cook once removed from the smoker and eventually reach a final temperature of 165℉. Remember, time can vary greatly depending on the smoker, weather conditions, and the size of the turkey breast, so always cook to temperature and not time. No one likes a dried out smoked turkey breast!
Rest the smoked turkey breast before serving
Remove the smoked turkey breast from the smoker and transfer it to a carving board. Let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat. Slicing too quickly after smoking the turkey breast will cause the juices run out. You can loosely tent with foil if needed, but I don't recommend it as this can cause the skin to lose it's crispiness.
Serve the smoked turkey breast
Once the smoked turkey breast has rested for at least 20 minutes, carve it against the grain into slices of your preferred thickness and serve. Enjoy!