Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked turkey breast sliced and ready to eat
Smoked turkey breast is quicker to cook than a full turkey and great for meals year-round!

Smoked turkey breast is a great idea for your smaller holiday gatherings. It’s an underrated meat the rest of the year. Not sure why because it tastes so dang good! With a simple blend of rub and smoke, these smoked turkey breasts cook a lot faster than a whole turkey. I recommend saving this recipe for future use during the rest of the year.

Thawing the Turkey Breast

Sometimes you can find turkey breasts already trimmed and ready to go. I haven’t been so lucky, so I will usually buy them bone-in and frozen. Regarding the thawing process, rule of thumb says to thaw in your fridge for days before use. With frozen, bone-in turkey breasts, that means about three days in the fridge.

However, if you want to thaw it out much faster I recommend submerging in cold water. Some folks will tell you to fill up your kitchen sink with cold water with the package of turkey in there. I like to put the turkey in a five-gallon bucket (like the one’s you get from The Home Depot) and fill with cold water. Then I put in my fridge for a few hours. Depending on the weather where you are at, you could also put in your garage. Or if you are short on space, put it in a cooler with cold water and some ice cubes. Either way, it will thaw out in about four or five hours instead of three or four days. NOTE: the turkey should still be in the original packaging.

To Brine, or Not to Brine?

Raw, trimmed turkey breast brined and seasoned.
Turkey breasts seasoned and ready for the cherry smoke.

Once the turkey has thawed, you will need to choose whether or not to brine. I say brine. Brining will help add some flavor to a rather bland bird. Simply remove the turkey from its packaging and remove the extras from it’s cavity (gravy packet, turkey neck, etc.). In a food-grade brining bucket, Pour in two gallons of water, one cup of kosher salt, one cup of sugar, some BBQ rub you plan on using for the smoking process, a cup of apple juice, and a couple of bay leaves. Brine for 12-14 hours. Make sure to rinse bird off before prepping to cook.

If you are trimming the bone-in turkey breast, I recommend watching the following video. Once I film myself doing this, I will post one of my own. But in the meantime, check this one out:

Prepping, Cooking the Smoked Turkey Breast

Action shot of the smoked turkey breast on the grill.
Action shot of the smoked turkey breast on the grill.

Before you begin the simple prep for this smoked turkey breast, preheat your grill to 250 degrees over indirect heat with cherry wood. Regarding the seasonings, I like to use premader seasonings that have a stronger pepper flavor. While I am using Q-nami rub from Lanes BBQ for this one, feel free to use a rub of your choice that you think pairs well with poultry. If you are looking for a good turkey rub, I suggest checking out my friend Susie Bulloch’s website, Hey Grill Hey.

I go moderate with the application of the rub/seasoning. Make sure to apply on both sides of the turkey breasts. Take out to your preheated grill and let it smoke until internal meat temp reaches 162 degrees. This may take a couple of hours. During the cooking process, melt two tablespoons of butter and apply on the turkey breasts to help keep the tips from drying out.

According to the USDA, poultry is done at 165 degrees. I say to remove turkey at 162 because the meat will continue to cook internally as it rests. The closer you get it to 165, it will be most tender and juicy. I recommend resting 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Regarding slicing, slice thin if you want to serve it up like your classic BBQ joints. It will also go further for larger crowds. I sometimes go thicker because that’s how I like them. Either way, the flavor will be there and I’m positive you will love cooking this up any time of the year!

Yield: Two turkey breasts

Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked turkey breast sliced and ready to eat

Smoked turkey breast is quicker to cook than a full turkey and great for meals year-round! Brine, rub and smoke is all you need!

Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 10 hours


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/2 Cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons rub/seasoning of your choice
  • 1 Cup apple juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons rub/seasoning of your choice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted


  1. For brining trimmed turkey breasts, fill food grade container with water, kosher salt, sugar, seasoning, apple juice, and bay leaves. Stir well with long, wooden spoon. Place turkey breasts in container and put in refrigerator for at least eight hours.
  2. After brining is done, preheat grill to 250 degrees over indirect heat with cherry wood. Apply rub/seasoning on both sides of turkey breast and place on grill. Apply melted butter about an hour into the cook.
  3. Remove when internal meat temp reaches 165 degrees and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.


1. If you don't have a rub/seasoning you like for turkey, a simple 50/50 mixture of salt and pepper will do.

2. Resting before slicing helps the meat have a juicier bite. If you start slicing right away, more juices will flow out and the meat will have a dryer texture.

Nutrition Information:


10 serving (4 oz.)

Serving Size:

4 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 115mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 34g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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