Grilled Turkey Breast is tender and full of flavor. It’s also a great alternative to a larger whole turkey dinner. Adding a spicy and savory Cajun seasoning gives it that extra kick. If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd and looking for an alternative to a larger turkey roast, this Grilled Turkey Recipe is calling your name.
- This grilled turkey recipe does not need a brine (although you can).
- Two-Zone grilling allows for crispy skin and the perfect finishing temperature.
- The same method can apply to a whole turkey, or turkey legs and thighs, although we recommend spatchcocking a whole bird when grilling.
Sometimes we just don’t have large crowds for a full Smoked Turkey, or perhaps we’re craving a Thanksgiving Holiday meal experience without so much work. A Turkey Breast is a great way to get those traditional flavors, but in much smaller portions that a full turkey (and less prep work too!).
In this Grilled Turkey Breast recipe we are keeping things very simple by seasoning the breast with our Cajun Seasoning and adding some butter under the skin for additional flavor and moisture.
Just because you ain’t smoking a 15 pound bird doesn’t mean you won’t get those same big flavors! This turkey breast is juicy, tender, and super flavorful.
Purchasing Turkey Breast
You will find two types of turkey breast:
- Bone-in will most commonly have both breasts attached to the bone. This is great if you have a smaller grilling space, and the bone will help keep the breasts attached for an even cooking experience.
- Boneless will typically come in one or two separate breasts, depending on the supplier. For ease, we often opt for boneless, as it will still have the skin on and it grills quickly. Boneless is also easier to slice.
Will the bone add more flavor? No, a turkey breast bone has little in it that would add “flavor”, so opt for a boneless making it easier for slicing when done. Either style will work for this recipe (just factor in some extra cooking time if there’s a bone attached). The white meat when cooked to the right temperature will be juicy and tender.
Preparing for Grilled Turkey Breast
Because we are cooking at a higher heat, brining is an option and will add some additional salt flavor and moisture. If you choose to brine, brine for at least 8 hours, and no more than 36, otherwise it will get a less desirable texture.
In this recipe we do not brine it, instead we use a savory Cajun seasoning and butter to add flavor and moisture. You can season the day before to achieve a dry brine, or you can season just before you put on the grill. We prefer the night before for a touch of added flavor and time for the salt to work into the meat. But if you forgot to season the day before, just do it prior to grilling. Easy peasy!
- Remove any webbing or netting from the turkey breast and discard.
- Pat the breast down dry with paper towels.
- If purchasing two breasts, cut the skin and separate the two breasts.
- Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat in a pocket. You won’t completely separate the skin. Just separate enough so you can pack butter into the pocket.
This will prepare the breast for the cajun seasoning.
Our Cajun seasoning is a mixture of black pepper, salt, and herbs and spices to bring a savory and mild heat to the turkey. There is no need for olive oil since using butter.
- Start by adding 1 teaspoon of our Cajun Seasoning with two tablespoons of room temperature butter in a small bowl.
- Take the seasoned butter and stuff it in the two breasts in the pocket you made in between the skin and the meat.
- Season the outside of the breasts with the same rub. Plan 2 tablespoons of dry rub for each grilled turkey breast.
- If doing this the day before, loosely cover the breasts with foil and store in the refrigerator.
How to Grill Turkey Breast
- Prepare your grill for two zone cooking (or direct/indirect) and targeting 350 degrees Fahrenheit over direct heat. We are using the Flamezone feature of our MAK Two-Star General for the pellet grill equivalent.
- Place the turkey breast skin side down on the grill grate over direct heat for about 6 – 8 minutes, or long enough to get some browning color from the heat.
- Flip the turkey and continue grilling over direct heat for 4 additional minutes to slightly brown the bottom of the breast.
- Move the grilled turkey breast to the indirect side of the grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant read thermometer, like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes tented with aluminum foil, and then slice and serve with your favorite sides.
Gas Grill – Follow the recipe steps and light one burner targeting medium heat for the direct heat and finish the cooking process over the indirect side. This would be roughly 400 degrees as measured by the dome thermometer.
- A quality instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen One or Thermopop.
- Blue tooth meat thermometer like a Thermoworks Smoke Unit to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey and grill.
- Long Tongs
Other Holiday Small Roast Ideas
- Smoked Turkey Breast with Maple Glaze
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Cedar Plank Salmon
- Grilled Pork Collar
- Smoked Beef Tenderloin
Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
- Grilled and Glazed Carrots
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Grilled Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens Recipe
- Smoked Sausage, Caramelized Onion, and Cornbread Stuffing
Wine Pairing For Thanksgiving Turkey
If you’re looking for wine to pair with your grilled turkey breast, or full Thanksgiving Dinner, check out our Guide to Pairing Wine with Thanksgiving (or Holiday Dinner).
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