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 cornbread dressing.
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!
How do you make smoked turkey breast?
This recipe starts with a simple turkey brine that’s made with apple cider, citrus, herbs, salt and garlic. The turkey breast needs to sit in the brine for at least 8 hours to absorb all the flavors. Pat the turkey breast dry, then coat it in homemade spice rub. Place the turkey in a smoker and cook at low heat until the turkey is cooked through. Slice, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect turkey
- 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.
- The turkey should stay in the brine for at least 8 hours, but no more than 12 hours or it can get overly salty.
- Garnish the finished dish with fresh herbs and fruit for an elegant presentation.
- Smoked turkey breast will stay fresh 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 to coat your turkey, it’s loaded with flavor. If you don’t want to make your own seasoning, you can purchase your favorite prepared BBQ rub instead.
- It’s fine to use a fresh or frozen turkey, just make sure it’s completely thawed before you place it in the brine.
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 mostgrocery 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.
Once you try this smoked turkey breast, you’ll find yourself making it for the holidays every year!
More Thanksgiving recipes to try
Smoked Turkey Breast Video
Smoked Turkey Breast
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
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.