This smoked turkey breast is soaked in brine, then coated in homemade spice rub and cooked on a smoker until it is tender and juicy. The absolute best way to enjoy turkey breast with perfect results every time!

When Thanksgiving rolls around, I prefer to make my turkey on a smoker so that there’s plenty of room in the oven for side dishes such as slow cooker cranberry sauce, candied yams and Southern cornbread dressing.

Sliced smoked turkey breast on a serving plate with herbs.

Every year for the holidays, I make a smoked turkey breast for smaller gatherings. It’s perfectly seasoned, simple to make and always gets rave reviews from family and friends!

When you want the perfect Thanksgiving recipe, pick an amazing main course like this smoked turkey breast, spatchcock turkey, whole smoked turkey or slow roasted prime rib.

Smoked Turkey Breast Ingredients

For this smoked turkey breast recipe you need to first make brine. You will need apple cider, water, salt, brown sugar, garlic, peppercorns, an orange and rosemary sprigs for the brine. After you brine the turkey you will need a turkey breast, BBQ rub and herbs for garnish to finish the turkey.

Bowls of ingredients to make a turkey brine.

How Do You Make Smoked Turkey Breast?

This recipe starts with a simple turkey brine. The turkey breast needs to sit in the brine for at least 8 hours to absorb all the flavors. After you brine the turkey, remove it from the brine. Pat the turkey breast dry, then coat it in a homemade spice rub. Place the turkey in a baking pan and put it in a smoker. Cook the meat at low heat until it is cooked through. Slice, garnish with herbs, then serve and enjoy.

A raw breast in a pot of brine.

Tips For The Perfect Turkey

  • Garnish the finished dish with fresh herbs and fruit for an elegant presentation.
  • It’s fine to use a fresh or frozen turkey, just make sure to thaw the breast before you place it in the brine.
  • The turkey should stay in the brine for at least 8 hours, but no more than 12 hours or it can get overly salty.
  • Feel free to use an aluminum foil baking pan for easy cleanup.
  • Smoked turkey breast will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat individual slices in the microwave, or place a covered pan of turkey in the oven at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
  • I highly recommend using my homemade BBQ rub recipe or smoked turkey rub to coat your turkey. If you don’t want to make your own seasoning, you can purchase your favorite prepared BBQ rub instead.

Quick Tip

I use a bone-in, double turkey breast which is great for about 6-8 people. If you’re looking to feed less people, you can use a single breast.

Poultry coated in homemade spice rub.

Recipe FAQs

How long does it take to smoke turkey breast?

It typically takes about 30 minutes per pound to smoke a turkey breast. A standard size for a turkey breast is around 6 pounds, which means you’ll be looking at about 3 hours of cooking time. It’s best to go by the actual internal temperature of the meat versus the time in the smoker for most accurate results.

What type of wood is best to smoke turkey?

I typically use apple wood to smoke poultry, as it imparts a mild and sweet flavor that compliments the delicate meat. Apple wood chips are readily available in most grocery or home improvement stores. Other great choices are cherry wood or hickory chips.

When is a smoked turkey breast done?

A turkey breast is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees F. I use a digital probe thermometer that I leave in the turkey while it smokes so that I can monitor the progress with a temperature remote from inside the house. It’s important to watch the temperature closely so that the meat does not overcook!

How much turkey per person?

You will want to plan to have one pound of turkey per person. If you’re looking to have a lot of leftovers, purchase one and a half pounds per person.

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A smoked turkey breast on a platter garnished with fruit and herbs.

Flavor Variations

While this recipe cooks up juicy and flavorful turkey breast, you can modify to fit your own taste.

  • Herb: Try adding to your rub a tablespoon of Italian seasoning which features thyme and rosemary or add some ground sage.
  • Spicy: For a spicy kick, mix in a tablespoon of cayenne pepper into your rub.
  • Cajun: Add 2 tablespoons of my Cajun seasoning to the rub. If you want to make a whole turkey, try my Cajun turkey!

Once you try this smoked turkey breast, you’ll find yourself making it for the holidays every year!

More Thanksgiving Recipes

Smoked Turkey Breast Video

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5 from 33 votes

Smoked Turkey Breast

AuthorSara Welch
Sliced smoked turkey breast on a serving plate with herbs.
This smoked turkey breast is soaked in brine, then coated in homemade spice rub and cooked on a smoker until it is tender and juicy. The absolute best way to enjoy turkey breast with perfect results every time!
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Brining Time8 hours
Total Time11 hours 10 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6

Ingredients 

For the brine

  • 1 cup apple cider the juice, do not use vinegar
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 orange thinly sliced
  • 3 rosemary sprigs

For the turkey

  • 6 pound bone in turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup BBQ rub
  • cooking spray
  • fresh herbs for garnish

Instructions 

For the brine

  • Place all the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes or until salt and sugar have dissolved. 
  • Turn off the heat. Let the brine mixture cool.
  • Place the turkey breast in the brine solution to fully submerge it, then refrigerate for 8-12 hours. 
  • When you're ready to cook your turkey breast, remove it from the brine and rinse with cool water; pat dry with paper towels. 

For the turkey

  • Preheat a smoker to 250 degrees F. Load the smoker with apple, hickory or cherry wood.
  • Coat a large disposable aluminum pan with cooking spray. Place the turkey in the pan.
  • Sprinkle the BBQ rub all over the surface of the turkey breast.
  • Place the pan in the smoker. Cook for 3 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees F.  Refill the wood chips as needed.
  • If the turkey skin starts to get too dark, cover it with foil.
  • Let the turkey rest for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with herbs if desired, then slice and serve.

Notes

  1. I use a bone-in, double turkey breast which is great for about 6-8 people. If you’re looking to feed less people, you can use a single breast.
  2. Garnish the finished dish with fresh herbs and fruit for an elegant presentation.
  3. It’s fine to use a fresh or frozen turkey, just make sure to thaw the breast before you place it in the brine.
  4. The turkey should stay in the brine for at least 8 hours, but no more than 12 hours or it can get overly salty.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 220mg | Sodium: 702mg | Potassium: 1101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 140IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 2mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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5 from 33 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We love smoking our turkey each year, but haven’t tried with a brine..can’t wait to try this version! Looks so juicy 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely amazing! mI can never get enough turkey and this is such a different way to serve it.

  3. 5 stars
    Love the idea of making smoked turkey breast for Thanksgiving this year — a fun way to change things up from our traditional turkey recipe! Can’t wait to try this soon!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve always loved turkey, so I’m thrilled about this smoked turkey breast! Such a great combination of flavors. Thanksgiving will be a hit this year!

  5. 5 stars
    The best way to make turkey in my opinion! I love all of the flavors of this turkey, your brine is perfection! Can’t wait to make this for Thanksgiving.