This delicious smoked turkey breast is flavorful, tender, and has the perfect crispy skin after smoking. We love this recipe for a smaller Thanksgiving or a smaller group of people. The leftovers make great turkey salad and turkey sandwiches, too.
Delicious Smoked Turkey Breast
When you don’t need quite as much turkey as a whole turkey offers, go for a turkey breast! This bone-in smoked turkey breast recipe offers flavorful and tender turkey every time.
This turkey breast is brined, rubbed with a delicious dry rub, and spritzed with an orange juice and apple cider vinegar spritz during the smoke time.
Why you’ll love it!
Reasons why you’ll love it.
Using a turkey breast is sometimes easier than cooking with a whole turkey. A turkey breast fits into a large bucket, your refrigerator, and your smoker much easier than a whole bird.
This smoked turkey breast offers delicious leftover smoked turkey.
It’s an easy recipe to make and involve the whole family.
- Turkey– this recipe calls for a 4-6 pound bone-in turkey breast. Be sure you find a turkey that is untreated. Some turkeys come pre-brined and we don’t want that. This turkey should feed between 6-8 people if you are serving it with sides.
- Brine Ingredients- you are going to bine your bird in this smoked turkey brine which consists of water, salt, rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, and onions. If you want more information on the smoked turkey brine, check out this post.
- Turkey seasoning– do not skip this seasoning, it adds so much flavor to this recipe. This turkey seasoning is the most flavorful seasoning that compliments turkey and other poultry so well. It is a combination of sweet + savory. Please please make it!
- Orange juice- orange juice is part of the spritz that you will spray the turkey with. A little sugar will keep the bird moist and keep the skin crispy.
- Apple cider vinegar- the apple cider vinegar is also a part of the spritz. It cuts the sugar and gives the spritz a nice balance.
Brine the turkey
We highly suggest brining the turkey before you smoke it. Prepare the brining liquid and submerge the turkey breast in the brine after it has cooled off. You do not want to put your turkey in a warm brine.
Place the brining turkey in the refrigerator and brine the turkey overnight.
Prepare the turkey after brining
Remove the turkey from the brine and carefully rinse the turkey under cold water. Pat the turkey completely dry before adding the dry rub. Season the turkey with the turkey dry rub. Massage the dry rub into the turkey with your hands and add the white onion into the cavity of the turkey breast.
This is also the time to add the orange juice and apple cider vinegar to a spray bottle to spritz the turkey during the cook time.
If you don’t have a spritz bottle you can add the orange juice and apple cider vinegar to a bowl, mix, and use a pastry brush to whip the mixture over the turkey.
Smoke the turkey
Preheat the smoker to 240ºF and then place the turkey breast on the smoker for 2 1/2-3 hours or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165ºF.
Let the turkey rest before eating
Remove the turkey breast from the smoker and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
What is the Best Smoker?
Let’s talk about smokers. If you have a smoker that you love, you can skip this section. We have smoked many different types of meat on many different smokers. Automatic pellet grills or smokers, manual smokers, and even regular grills.
Our favorite smoker is the Traeger electric smoker because (like a slow cooker) there is minimal work required once you set the Traeger. This smoker uses pellets rather than wood chips and it automatically feeds the smoker to adjust the temperature
That’s right, nobody has to add wood chips or wood pellets themselves to keep the temperature up.
Turkey breast can be hard to find outside of the holiday season. You can usually find bone-in turkey breast at your local butcher or in the frozen section of specialty grocery stores.
We suggest preparing the whole recipe of the turkey seasoning and storing it in a cold and dark place.
Some smokers have set temperatures so anywhere between 230-250ºF will work for this recipe. The timing just may change depending on what temperature you can use.
You can use a boneless turkey breast, but be sure to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey breast closely so it does not overcook.
Yes, you can use a gas grill or charcoal grill as a smoker. It does take a bit more work. All you have to do is buy one of these wood chip smoker boxes and then add wood chips throughout the smoking process to maintain the correct temperature.
You can use whatever pellet you would like! We used the original Traeger pellets for this recipe. You can use hickory, cherry, or any other pellet flavor you’d like.
We swear by wet brining our turkey breast before smoking because it not only adds a ton of flavor but also helps the turkey retain moisture during the smoking process.
We recommend brining your turkey for at least 12 hours or overnight. So, you can do this the night before so that it’s ready for smoking in the morning!
Store your turkey leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Can I Freeze Smoked Turkey?
Yes, you can freeze leftover turkey for soups, salads, or any other recipes. Let the turkey cool completely and then place it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Ditch the store-bought turkey seasoning and use the most Flavorful Turkey Seasoning made with 9 ingredients you can actually pronounce. This seasoning is made up of garlic powder, brown sugar, kosher salt, and other simple seasonings.
Smoked Turkey Breast
- 4-6 lbs. bone-in turkey breast completely thawed
- 12 cups water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 medium white onion chopped and separated
- 2 tablespoons turkey seasoning
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Remove the packaging from the turkey breast and discard any extra turkey parts that came with the turkey. Set the turkey aside.
- Make the turkey breast brine. Add 12 cups of cold water to a large 5 gallon bucket or pot. Remove 2 cups of water from the bucket and add it to a small saucepan. Add the salt to the water and whisk.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat and allow the mixture to boil until the salt has dissolved completely.
- Add the salt water to the bucket and stir to combine. Add the thyme, rosemary, and half of the white onion to the bucket of water. Place the turkey breast in the bucket of water. Be sure the turkey breast is submerged in water. Refrigerate the turkey overnight to brine.
- The next morning, preheat the smoker to 240ºF* and remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it under cold water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
- Season the turkey breast with the turkey seasoning on both sides. Massage the turkey seasoning into the turkey. Add the other half of the chopped white onion into the cavity of the turkey. Set aside.
- Add orange juice and apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle. Shake to combine.
- Place the turkey on the smoker and smoke the turkey breast for 2 ½ – 3 hours, spritzing the turkey breast with orange juice every 30-45 minutes.
- Remove the turkey breast from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Let the turkey breast rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Tips & Notes
- Turkey breast can be hard to find outside of the holiday season. You can usually find bone-in turkey breast at your local butcher or in the frozen section of specialty grocery stores.
- We suggest preparing the whole recipe of the turkey seasoning and storing it in a cold and dark place.
- Some smokers have set temperatures so anywhere between 230-250ºF will work for this recipe. The timing just may change depending on what temperature you can use.
- You can use a boneless turkey breast, but be sure to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey breast closely so it does not overcook.
- We used Traeger Signature blend smoking pellets.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.