No matter whether you are planning a New Year party, a Thanksgiving dinner or just want to have family time at home, smoking a turkey breast suits all situations. But for smoking a turkey to perfection, you need to understand the right cooking method. Learning how long to smoke a turkey breast, the ideal temperature, tricks for retaining moisture and flavor inside, and a lot more is important.
Although there are many guides available on the internet, finding all the necessary information in one place is difficult. So we suggest scrolling down as we have covered every nook and cranny of the smoking process, that too in the simplest way possible.
When to Smoke Turkey Breast Instead of Whole Turkey?
Buying a whole turkey for a casual Sunday dinner or to host half a dozen people isn’t a good idea, mainly due to how expensive it can be. Instead, smoking a turkey breast would be the better choice. It also has fewer bones to cut around (you can buy a boneless turkey breast as well). As for taste, it’s the same delicious white meat you love to have in the form of the whole turkey.
How Long to Smoke Turkey Breast?
Depending upon the size of the meat, the cooking time varies. Generally, 30 minutes per pound is enough to cook a turkey breast at 225°F. For faster cooking, you can raise the temperature to 250°F. This will take around 25 minutes of smoking time per pound. Increasing temperature to 350°F will further reduce cooking time to 13 minutes per pound. But be cautious when cooking at high temperature, or you will end up burning the bird.
All in all, it normally takes around 2-4 hours to completely cook a turkey breast.
What is the Ideal Temperature for Smoking Turkey Breast?
Ideally, to get the perfect moist, and tender turkey, the temperature of the smoker shouldn’t exceed the range of 225-250°F. Buy a meat thermometer to verify the doneness of the bird. When the internal temperature reaches 162-165°F, the turkey breast is cooked and ready to take out of the smoker.
Step-by-Step Guide to Smoking a Turkey
- A smoker
- Meat injector
- Cling film
- Wood chips (apple or cherry)
- A large turkey breast
For Injection Sauce
- Softened butter (1/4 cup)
- Lemon juice (1/4 cup)
- Thyme (1 teaspoon)
- Sage (1 teaspoon)
- Worcestershire sauce (3 tablespoons)
- Garlic salt (1 teaspoon)
- Onion salt (1 teaspoon)
- Oil (1/4 cup)
- Water (1/4 cup)
- Chili powder (1 tablespoon)
- Garlic and onion salt (1 tablespoon)
- Grounded black pepper (1 teaspoon)
- Paprika (1 tablespoon)
- Seasoning salt (1 tsp or to taste)
Step 1: Defrost the Meat
Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and thaw it. Wash the meat thoroughly and dry using a paper towel.
Step 2: Prepare the Injector Sauce
Mix all the injector ingredients together. Fill the syringe with it and start injecting the turkey breast. The key is to inject as much marinade as possible without making a lot of holes. To do this, poke one hole in the meat and rotate the needle in different directions. Repeat the same procedure in different parts of the bird.
Next, rub some butter on the interior and exterior of the breast and let it rest until you prepare the rub.
Step 3: Mix the Rub Ingredients
Add all the rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Apply on top of the bird, under the skin and in the cavity as well. In order to let the sauce and rub ingredients infuse fully and evenly throughout the meat, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. If short on time, we suggest marinating the meat for at least an hour.
Step 4: Turn on the Smoker and Start Cooking
Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes before smoking. Light the smoker following these methods:
For a charcoal grill
Add 2 cups of apple juice plus 2 cups of water in a foil pan and place it at the bottom of the grill. Open the bottom vent halfway, light up the charcoal and wait until the top coals start to turn white. Now, distribute the coals throughout the grill, add the soaked wood chips on top of the charcoal, and let the smoker heat up with the lid off for around 5 minutes.
When the temperature reaches 225°F, season the smoker grates with olive or any other oil. Place the turkey breast in the foil pan, with the skin side up and cook until the temperature of the thickest part of the bird is 165°F.
For a gas grill
Place the wood chips on the primary burner of the gas grill. Adjust the grilling grate in position, turn on the burners. Heat until the smoker’s temperature raises to 225°F. Later, adjust the burner heat to maintain this temperature. Place the turkey breast on the cooking grill and check doneness by using a meat thermometer (internal temperature should be 165°F).
Note: Keep an eye on the temperature of the grill until done. If the temperature goes beyond the requirement, adjust the vents to limit air passage or burners to reduce heat generation.
Step 5: Time to Serve!
As soon as the thermometer reads 165°F and the skin of your bird turns amber, take it out of the smoker and tent it with foil paper. Leave the smoked turkey to rest for 20-25 minutes. Now, place on the slicing board, carve and serve.
What to Serve with a Smoked Turkey Breast?
All holiday side dishes can be served alongside a turkey. Whether it is cheesy broccoli, a pomegranate salad or creamy mashed potatoes, everything goes well with your smoked turkey breast.
Can You Reheat Leftover Turkey?
Yes, you can but your leftover turkeys do not deserve to turn dry and chewy, follow the given guidelines to lock its deliciousness until the last bite. Just make sure you don’t cook the meat on high heat, or you will end up ruining its taste and texture. Heat the bird until piping hot and make sure there is no leftover meat as it is best to only reheat the turkey once.
1. Reheating Leftover Turkey in an Oven
Reheating your leftover turkey following the same way you used to cook it is outright the best method. For this, you will need to reheat the oven to 300℉. While the oven is gaining the required temperature, transfer the bird to a casserole dish. Brush butter and pour some chicken broth over it.
Now, cover the dish fully with aluminum foil so the moisture does not escape away. Cook until the internal temperature of Turkey reaches 165℉. Generally, reheating in the oven takes 30-45 minutes.
2. Reheating Leftover Turkey on a Stovetop
Cooking on a skillet is the second-best option for reheating turkeys especially if you have some leftover skin-on pieces. Start by placing the bird pieces in a pan and submerging 1/2 inches of them in chicken stock. Place a lid over the skillet and heat on medium-high flame. Wait until the broth simmers and the turkey is warmed throughout.
For crisping the skin on the bird, take it out of the broth and fry it in a pan containing a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook on high heat with the skin side down. Do not fry for more than 3 to 5 minutes or the meat will turn chewy.
3. Reheating Leftover Turkey in a Microwave
Popping your turkey in a microwave is a considerable option if you want to reheat a single serving only. Chop the bird into bite-sized pieces so that the meat’s exterior does not dry out until the interior is heated.
Next, transfer turkey pieces into a microwave-safe dish. Drizzle some chicken broth and pat butter over it. Start cooking on 70% power. Heat one minute per pound of your leftover turkey.
This guide has all you need to know about smoking a tender, juicy and moist turkey breast. Follow it and you will probably end up making this dish the favorite Sunday meal of your friends and family.