Smoked Turkey Breast is a great way to bring the delicious flavors of Thanksgiving or any holiday recipe to a smaller crowd. This turkey breast is marinated overnight in a citrus brine giving it loads of flavor and juicy textures.
Add some smoked gravy over the top and you have an incredible meal ready to go. Or you can take smoked turkey breast and slice it up for sandwiches!
We don’t always have a large crowd over for holiday meals. Sometimes it’s just the four of us, but that doesn’t mean we have to skip out on the turkey. In those cases a simple smoked turkey breast is the perfect portion for a small family or holiday for two.
Is Boneless or Bone-in Best for Smoking?
Using a boneless turkey breast is the perfect portion for four people and it is easy to make.
Chefs Tip: Be sure when buying your turkey breast that it is NOT pre-brined or in some type of water solution. Many of them come in a water solution, so make sure to double check what you’re purchasing.
Why boneless? Because smoking is typically done with indirect heat, a boneless turkey breast is easier to slice and doesn’t need the bone to protect it from heat like direct cooking.
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.
How To Smoke a Turkey Breast
Follow a few easy steps to get a perfect and juicy turkey breast every time.
- Brine the Turkey – this adds moisture and flavor to the meat. You can read more about brining here. For a turkey breast we brine it overnight in the fridge.
- Smoke at a low temperature – 250 degrees is a good target temperature. For wood, we prefer fruit wood for smoking.
- Watch the temperature – Measure the internal temperature of the meat and the smoker to make sure you pull the meat off at the right temperature versus the time. For a turkey breast we pull the meat when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 degrees. Plan on 2-3 hours.
- Glaze – just before pulling the turkey, brush it with a simple glaze of maple syrup and orange juice. This will add great flavor and shine.
- Rest – Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes prior to slicing.
It’s that easy!
How Long to Smoke a Turkey Breast
Plan on roughly 60 minutes per pound when smoking a turkey breast at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The most important factor is pulling the turkey when the internal temperature of the turkey is 160 degrees F using an instant read thermometer.
As the turkey rests, the internal temperature of the turkey will continue to rise another 3 – 5 degrees. We use the Thermoworks Smoke Unit to watch the internal temperature of the smoker and the meat and the Thermapen to check other parts of the turkey to make sure the turkey is done.
If you’re serving this for a holiday meal, don’t forget to add some smoked gravy!
Holiday Side Dishes
- Grilled Brussels Sprouts
- Glazed Carrots on the Grill
- Grilled Green Beans
- Turkey Sandwiches with Beaujolais Wine (just sub turkey for a sandwich instead of pork)
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Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe
- 4 quarts water
- ¾ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- ½ red onion
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 lemon quartered
- 1 orange quartered
- ¼ cup whole peppercorns
- 1 3-4 pound boneless turkey breast, not previously brined
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons poultry rub
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons orange juice
Citrus Turkey Brine
- In a large stock pot add water, salt, and sugar. Stir to incorporate the salt and sugar into the liquid. Add the remaining brine ingredients. Squeeze the citrus to incorporate the juice.
- Add the turkey breast to the brine, cover, and brine in the refrigerator overnight (or up to 24 hours).
Smoked Turkey Breast
- Remove the turkey from the brine, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place, uncovered, into a refrigerator for 2 hours to allow the skin to dry.
- Preheat smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using a fruit wood, like cherry or apple. While smoker comes to temperature, remove the turkey from the fridge and coat in olive oil, and season liberally with dry rub.
- Smoke the turkey for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the size of the turkey breast, or until the internal temperature of the turkey is 160 degrees F.
- In a small bowl combine maple syrup and orange juice. When the turkey reaches 160 degrees brush the turkey breast with the maple orange combination. Remove the turkey from the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Slice and serve with your smoked gravy or favorite topping.