You are going to love this smoked turkey chicken breast recipe! It’s amazingly juicy and succulent and packed full of flavor. Smoke it on your gas or charcoal grill or Big Green Egg for a show stopping Thanksgiving feast!
There’s nothing quite like a smoked turkey for the holidays and my method results in a perfectly cooked juicy turkey breast every time! If you are thinking of smoking your turkey this year, be sure to give this method a go!
How to Cook This Juicy Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe
FOR THE BRINING THE TURKEY:
- In a very large container, combine water, salt and sugar. Whisk until the salt & sugar dissolve. Set the turkey breast in the water (add more water, if needed, to completely submerge) and refrigerate 8-12 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking, and pat it dry (inside & out) with paper towels.
FOR THE HERB BUTTER:
- In a small mixing bowl, combine butter, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, mustard, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Using your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the breast from the meat underneath.
- Spread 3 tablespoons herb butter under the skin of each breast and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over the outside of the breasts. Use 2-3 toothpicks per breast to secure the skin to the breast (along the edge of the breast). Securing the skin with toothpicks prevents the skin from shrinking during cooking.
FOR ALL COOKING METHODS:
- Soak the wood chunks or chips in water for 30 minutes while waiting for the coals to heat. If using wood chips, after soaking them, place them in a packet made with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cut 3-4 slits into the top for the smoke to vent.
FOR USING A BIG GREEN EGG:
- Open the bottom vent all the way. Light the coals using 2 paraffin wax cubes set in a good, level base of lump charcoal. Leave the lid open until the fire is burning and the coals get hot.
- Close the bottom vent to about a 1-inch opening and close the top vent almost all the way. The top vent will need additional adjustments to keep the temperature at 225°F.
- Set the wood chunks on top of the coals and place the heat deflector plate, feet-side up, over the coals.
- Set the aluminum foil pan in the middle of the deflector plate and add 2 cups water and 2 cups apple juice or cider (most fruit juices will work) to the pan.
- Set the cooking grate in-place and close the lid.
- Bring the internal temperature to 225°F, open the lid and clean and oil the grate.
- Set the turkey on the grate, close the lid and cook the turkey at 225°F for 2 hours. (Adjust the top vent as needed to keep the temperature at 225°F.)
- After 2 hours, check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast and continue cooking, adjusting the top vent as needed.
- As the internal temperature of the turkey gets closer to 163°F, check its internal temperature more often.
- Turkey breast takes about 35-45 minutes per pound when cooking at 225°F, so a 6-pound breast could take 2-3½ hours to cook at 225°F.
- The smoked turkey breast is done when its internal temperature registers 162°F-163°F on an instant-read thermometer. The skin should be amber colored and beautiful.
FOR USING A CHARCOAL GRILL:
- Thirty minutes before cooking the turkey, open the bottom vent of the grill halfway and place the foil pan in the center of the bottom grill and pour in 2 cups water and 2 cups apple juice or cider.
- Fill a charcoal chimney with charcoal and light it from the bottom. The coals are ready when the top coals are partially covered with ash, about 20-30 minutes.
- Pour half the coals along one side of the foil pan and the other half along the other side.
- Place the wood chunks/or foil packet of wood chips on top of one side of the coals.
- Set the cooking grate in place, close the lid and open the lid vent halfway. Heat the grill 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.
- Place the turkey, skin side up, over the foil pan in the center of the grill.
- Cover the grill (with the lid vent positioned over the turkey) and cook 1½-2½ hours (keep the internal temperature of the grill between 325°F-350°F). The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the turkey registers 162°F-163°F on an instant-read thermometer. The skin should be amber colored and beautiful.
FOR USING A GAS GRILL:
- Remove the top cooking grate and place the foil packet of wood chips on the primary burner. Replace the cooking grate and turn all burners to high. Cover the grill and heat until hot and the wood chips are smoking. This should take about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and adjust burners, as needed, to keep the grill’s internal temperature between 325°F-350°The total cooking time could be 1½-2½ hours.
- The smoked turkey breast is done when the internal temperature of the turkey registers 162°F-163°F on an instant-read thermometer. The skin should be amber colored and beautiful.
FOR ALL METHODS:
- When the internal temperature reads 162°F-163°F, transfer the smoked turkey breast to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow it to rest 20-25 minutes before slicing.
- Carve and serve.
Do you have to brine the turkey?
I really would recommend to brine your turkey breast before smoking it. Brining the turkey helps to keep the moisture in the breast as well as adding to the flavor. This is a simple brine of salt, sugar and water, it’s easy to do, you just need to allow a little extra time.
How do you know when the turkey breast is cooked?
Do note that the cooking times are different depending on which type of grill or smoker used for this recipe. The breasts can take anywhere from 1½ hours up to 4 hours, depending on the size of the breasts and the method used. The smoked turkey breast is done when a meat thermometer reads 162°F-163°F.
What goes with smoked turkey?
This smoked turkey breast should be served the same way you would serve a roasted one. All of your usual holiday sides will work wonderfully with this. Check out these recipes for some inspiration:
- Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots
- Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans
- Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe Two Ways (Macaroni and Cheese Casserole)
- Crunchy Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
Top Tips for Making Juicy Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe
- Use a natural, un-brined whole turkey breast (not Butterball- style)(boneless or bone-in).
- When brining, make sure to completely submerge the breast.
- Let the turkey breast come to room temperature before smoking it.
- Let the breast rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving it.
What to do with Leftover Turkey
If you’ve got some extra turkey after the feast, save it for one of these leftover recipes:
Be sure to check out my other turkey recipes that are perfect for the holidays!
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast Recipe (Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey!)
- Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast
- Garlic Butter Roast Turkey Breast
- Crock Pot Turkey Recipe
- thanksgiving turkey!
- homemade turkey gravy
- Best Turkey Burger Recipe
- Roasted Turkey Legs by The Spruce Eats