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 quesadillas, too.
Do you have a bigger group to feed? We have a whole smoked turkey recipe and a delicious roasted turkey recipe as well as other easy Thanksgiving recipes that are made with whole and easy ingredients.
When you don’t need quite as much turkey as a full Thanksgiving bird, go for a smoked turkey breast! This bone-in smoked turkey breast recipe offers flavorful and tender meat with delicious smokey skin.
Ever since we did our smoked turkey a few years ago, we’ve been obsessed with smoking turkey. I just love the extra flavor you get from pellets in the smoker and it frees up space in your oven. Plus, we developed this recipe so that you could smoke a turkey breast and smoke turkey legs at the same time!
A quick overview: This turkey breast is brined, seasoned with our famous turkey seasoning, and spritzed with an orange juice mixture while it smokes at 240ºF for 2.5-4 hours.
What You Need for Smoking a Turkey Breast
Turkey Breast– 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 an easy turkey brine which consists of water, salt, rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, and onions.
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.
Smoker Pellets: we’re big fans of Traeger’s Signature Blend, but you’re more than welcome to use a flavored pellet, too.
Smoked Turkey Breast Variations
- Dry brine instead: if you prefer a turkey dry brine, feel free to use that method instead.
- Swap the seasoning: feel free to use any kind of poultry seasoning if you don’t want to make your own homemade blend.
- Use apple juice: we’ve made a similar recipe with chicken legs before where we spritzed with apple juice during the smoking process and it’s absolutely divine.
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Can I use a regular grill to smoke?
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.
What type of pellets do I use?
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.
Why brine your turkey before smoking?
We swear by a wet brine for 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.
How long to brine a turkey before smoking?
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 Breast?
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.
How to Serve Your Smoked Turkey Breast
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Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe
- 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.
- 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.
- This smoked turkey breast recipe was developed in conjunction with our smoked turkey legs recipe so you can make them both at the same time.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.