This Smoked Turkey Breast recipe will change your life! It creates the most TENDER & JUICY turkey breast you’ve ever eaten. And it’s easy to make with a quick brine, rub & smoke!

This recipe is perfect for a small Thanksgiving meal, but is also easy enough to toss on the smoker for a weekend dinner anytime of the year! Pair it with Rosemary Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes and a Butternut Squash Spinach Kale Salad for the perfect meal!

Slices of smoked turkey breast meat on plate with fresh herbs

Oh my gosh, yes! That’s all I have to say about this Smoked Turkey Breast recipe.

Okay, maybe I have a few more things to say, but seriously, everyone who eats this turkey has the same reaction. “This is the best turkey I’ve ever eaten!”

The secret to the juiciness? Brining the turkey and basting it with butter throughout the smoking process. Oh yes I did!

From the flavor of the rub, combined with the flavor of the smoke, to the buttery goodness basted over the turkey, I guarantee you won’t find a tastier turkey breast recipe out there!

It’s Thanksgiving week here on the blog and so far I’ve shared a couple of my favorite side dishes. But now it’s time to share an epic new recipe for the main dish, the Thanksgiving turkey!

If you’re hosting a smaller get together for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, a turkey breast is the perfect size for 4-6 people. Even with a larger party, if you don’t want to mess with cooking and carving a whole turkey, I highly recommend smoking 2 or 3 turkey breasts. You’ll knock the socks off of your guests by showing them just how delicious white meat can be!

Now let’s check out what else is on the Thanksgiving week line-up, so we can complete our menu right here, right now!

Who else just looked at that list and got SO EXCITED for Thanksgiving dinner? Seriously delicious dishes on the menu this year and all of them are easy to make!

Sliced turkey breast on plate with fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs

How to Smoke a Turkey Breast

  • Brine the turkey breast.

    • The night before smoking the turkey breast, prepare a brine for the turkey.
    • To prepare the brine, you’ll want to dissolve salt and sugar into boiling water.
    • Once the salt and sugar dissolves in the water, pour it over a boneless turkey breast in a large bowl.
      • Quick tip! If the turkey breast is wrapped in netting, be sure to remove the netting before brining it.
    • Add cold water to the bowl until the turkey breast is completely covered.
    • Add thyme springs and black peppercorns to the brine.
    • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 12 hours to brine.
  • Rub the turkey breast.

    • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix in cayenne pepper, ground cloves, oregano and thyme.
    • After the turkey breast is brined, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it with cold water and dry with paper towels.
      • Quick Tip! If you’re not a fan of the skin, use a sharp knife to remove and discard the skin before tying the turkey up with the twine. My family is not a fan of the skin, so I remove it. Totally up to you though!
    • Use butchers twine to tie the turkey breast(s) together. Depending on the size of turkey breast purchased, you may end up with 2 turkey breasts in one package.
    • Rub the turkey breast with the prepared rub.
  • Smoke the turkey breast.

    • Heat a smoker to 275°F.
    • Place the seasoned turkey breast on the smoker for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the breast.
    • Brush 1 tablespoon of melted butter on the turkey every 30 minutes while the turkey is smoking.
    • Remove the turkey from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 155°F.
    • Place the turkey breast on a cutting board and wrap it in foil.
    • Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes. During that time, the temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees, getting to the ideal 165°F temperature of a turkey breast.
    • Unwrap the turkey and use an electric knife or carving knife to slice the turkey.

Collage of images showing how to brine, rub and smoke a turkey breast

How long to smoke a Turkey Breast

A turkey breast should be smoked until it reaches 155-165°F. The cooking times to get to this internal temperature will vary based on the size of the turkey.

After making this recipe several times with different size turkey breasts, I found that you will need to cook the turkey for approximately 45 minutes per pound of turkey to reach the desired internal temperature.

I do recommend checking the internal temperature of the turkey each time you baste the turkey breast with butter so that you make sure it does not get overcooked. This is one of the keys to a deliciously juicy turkey breast!

What’s the best wood for smoking turkey?

Whether you’re using actual wood, pellets, wood chunks or wood chips to smoke the turkey, I recommend using one of the following three flavors to complement the turkey.

  1. Maple – this wood gives off a sweeter smoke, which pairs perfectly with the sweet and spicy rub on this turkey breast.
  2. Hickory – a classic choice that never goes out of style and gives off a robust smoky flavor.
  3. Apple – the flavor of apple pairs wonderfully with turkey, making this wood flavor a perfect match for smoking a turkey breast.

Can you make this recipe with a bone-in turkey breast?

Yes, you can definitely use a bone-in turkey breast to make the recipe. You’ll need a bigger bowl to brine the turkey. Depending on the size of the bone-in turkey breast, you might actually want to use a turkey brining bag or large roasting pan to make sure the turkey breast is completely covered in the brine.

The time to smoke the turkey breast should be the same based on the size of the bone-in turkey breast. Plan for 45 minutes per pound of turkey and monitor the internal temperature throughout the cooking process.

Sliced smoked turkey breast on plate with fresh herbs

What to serve with Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked turkey pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. Try a combination of the following, depending on the time of year and occasion when you’re serving the turkey.

Sliced smoked turkey breast on plate with fresh rosemary and thyme
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Smoked Turkey Breast

This Smoked Turkey Breast recipe will change your life! It creates the most TENDER & JUICY turkey breast you've ever eaten. And it's easy to make with a quick brine, rub & smoke!

Ingredients

Brine

  • 10 cups water, divided
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 lb boneless turkey breast

Rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp thyme

Basting Liquid

  • 6-8 tbsp butter, melted

Instructions

Brine the Turkey

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  • Stir in the salt and sugar until it's dissolved in the boiling water.
  • Pour this mixture over the turkey breast in a large bowl. If the turkey breast is wrapped in netting, be sure to remove the netting before brining it.
  • Add 8 (or more) cups of cold water to the bowl, until the turkey breast is completely covered.
  • Add thyme springs and black peppercorns to the brine.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 12 hours to brine.

Rub & Smoke the Turkey

  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, oregano and thyme.
  • After the turkey breast is brined, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it with cold water and dry with paper towels.
  • Use butchers twine to tie the turkey breast(s) together. Depending on the size of turkey breast purchased, you may end up with 2 turkey breasts in one package.
  • Rub the turkey breast with the prepared rub.
  • Heat a smoker to 275°F.
  • Place the seasoned turkey breast on the smoker for 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the breast. Plan for approximately 45 minutes per pound of turkey.
  • While the turkey breast is smoking, brush 1 tablespoon of melted butter on the turkey every 30 minutes.
  • Remove the turkey from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 155°F. I recommend checking the temperature each time you baste the turkey with the melted butter.
  • Place the turkey breast on a cutting board and wrap it in foil.
  • Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes. During that time, the temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees, getting to the ideal 165°F temperature of a turkey breast.
  • Unwrap the turkey after 10 minutes and use an electric knife or carving knife to slice the turkey.

Notes

  • Recommended wood for smoking turkey: Maple, hickory or apple

Nutrition Facts

Calories 442kcal (22%)Carbohydrates 9g (3%)Protein 66g (132%)Fat 16g (25%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Cholesterol 193mg (64%)Sodium 5655mg (236%)Potassium 743mg (21%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 8g (9%)Vitamin A 559mg (11%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 71mg (7%)Iron 2mg (11%)
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