Smoked turkey breast cooked low and slow over applewood. Prepared with an easy brine and dry rub, this easy BBQ recipe is deliciously moist and loaded with flavor.
This smoked turkey breast recipe is the best way to enjoy this cut of white meat all year round. While whole turkeys have their place over the holiday season, turkey breast is easy barbecue meat that can be enjoyed anytime.
Like with most smoked turkey recipes, breast cuts are prone to drying out but with the right approach, you can deliver a juicy cut of meat. Our easy brine solution and oil injection ensure that the meat locks in moisture, while our BBQ dry rub adds herbs and spices that make it stand out from your traditional turkey. The end result is a portion of juicy white meat that’s equally tender as it is smoky.
Discover how to smoke the best turkey breast, including meat preparation and brining, as well as the best smoking woods and dry rub seasoning to use. Let’s get into it!
How to Smoke Turkey Breast
These basic steps to smoking the perfect turkey breast are easy to follow and will produce the best results (see the full recipe at the bottom of this article):
- Prepare the turkey breasts by trimming the fat and soaking them in our sugar-salt brine solution for 12 hours
- Wash and dry the breasts, before then seasoning with our cayenne pepper and thyme BBQ dry rub
- Use a meat injector to apply added oil and fat to the meat, ensuring that each breast is as moist and tender as possible
- Smoke at 225°F (107°C) over indirect heat for about 90 minutes, until the meat’s internal temperature has reached 160°F (70°C)
The final step before smoking our turkey breast is to inject each breast with oil. While technically not a marinade, this step helps us lock a final round of moisture by infusing the meat with a touch of added fat.
Turkey injection marinades can be complicated concoctions, but I’ve kept it simple here with a blend of canola oil, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Any light oil will work, but I’ve used canola oil because it has a high smoke point (i.e. it won’t burn up during the cooking process).
Simply combine the solution ingredients (full measurements are in the recipe below) and load the mixture into a meat injector. You might find using a ramekin or test tube useful here. Then, apply the solution to the turkey breast by inserting the injector head into the meat, about ½-inch from the surface. Do this every 1-2 inches across the top surface of each turkey breast.
Pro tip: Do not use butter in your solution. Butter, even when melted or warm, hardens when it comes into contact with cold meat.
Time & Temperatures
Turkey needs to be smoked for 30 minutes per pound of meat, at 225°F (107°C) until the meat internal temperature reaches 160°F (70°C). Total cook time will depend on the size of your turkey breast fillet, but on average should take approximately 60-90 minutes.
Best Smoking Wood
Mild fruit woods like apple, cherry, or pecan go best with smoked turkey. For this recipe, we’ve gone with applewood. Applewood has a sweet flavor that’s more delicate and subtle than most other fruitwoods, which allows more room for the flavors of the meat and dry rub seasoning to come through. See our guide to the best wood for smoking turkey to find out more.
- Place the meat breast-side up. You may have heard that breast-side down allows the juices to flow into the meat, making it more moist and flavorful. This is just a myth. The muscle fibers in white meat don’t allow for the same flow as beef or pork. Besides, why ruin a perfectly good breast by pressing it down on the grill?
Smoked Turkey Breast
- fillet knife
- Brine bucket
- Meat injector
- Applewood chips
- digital meat thermometer
- 4 boneless turkey breast fillets
- 2 quarts cold water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
BBQ Dry Rub
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Use a fillet knife to trim any residual fat on the turkey breasts
- Add water to the brine bucket. Gently stir in the salt and brown sugar.
- Add turkey breasts and ensure they are completely submerged in the solution (add more water if needed). Close bucket lid and store in the refrigerator overnight, or for 12 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Use a fork to break down any clumps that may appear.
- Apply a generous amount of rub over each turkey breast, on all sides. Work the seasoning into any folds in the meat.
- In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the canola oil, water, and Worcestershire sauce
- Fill barrel of your meat injector with marinade and apply to each turkey breast, injecting every 1-2 inches
- Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you are using a grill, set it up for 2-zone indirect grilling. Once you hit target temperature, add a few wood chips to the coals.
- Place turkey breasts on your smoker’s grates (ensure you use the indirect side if you are using your grill).
- Close the lid and cook until the thickest part of your turkey breasts has hit 160°F (70°C), about 60-90 minutes
- When ready, remove the turkey from the smoker. Serve the breasts whole or slice against the grain for sandwiches.