GUYS! You need a to make this smoked turkey breast recipe. Don't ask questions, just do it! #lifechanging I served this smoked turkey breast along side another turkey cooked a different method and it was HANDS DOWN everyone's favorite. Here's how you do it, you'll love how easy it is.
Why should I cook a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey?
Turkey breast are awesome if you are cooking for only about a half a dozen people on thanksgiving, or for a Sunday dinner. They provide a lot of delicious white meat for you without having a lot of bones to cut around. I do highly recommend a bone-in turkey breast to smoke, but you can do this with a boneless too.
PRO TIP: You can find the turkey breast right by the whole turkeys!
What do you need for the best smoked turkey breast recipe?
- You need a smoker. I LOVE my Camp Chef Woodwind Smoker. It's easy to use, easy to clean and creates the best flavor and meat. We smoke all year round with this guy.
- Injector. This injector from amazon is seriously heavy duty and perfect.
- Cling wrap/plastic wrap.
- Turkey breast and ingredients!
How to prep your turkey breast
- Make sure the turkey breast is thawed. I love to inject and rub my turkey 24 hours ahead of time to make sure the flavor is completely infused with the flavors. So if your turkey is frozen you'll need to thaw it 48 hours before cooking day, inject/rub 24 hours before cooking it!
- Rinse and pat dry your turkey.
How to Inject the turkey breast
Let's start with what you need to inject a turkey breast. The injection recipe includes:
- lemon juice
- oil and water
- melted butter
- spices (thyme and sage)
- Worcestershire sauce
- garlic salt and onion salt
You want to make as little holes in your turkey as possible while injecting as much as the turkey as possible. How you do this is by sticking the needle in and moving it in different directions through that one hole. See pictures below. (these were taken with a whole turkey but the same principle applies. see video below for more visual direction with turkey breast).
How to rub a turkey breast
Take room temperature or slightly melted butter and sub all over the turkey and under the skins.
Combine all your spices for the turkey breast rub: you will need:
- onion salt
- garlic salt
- seasoning salt
- chili powder
- and fresh ground pepper
Combine the spices and rub the breast the same way as the butter. Make sure to get it in a all the nooks and crannies. Under the skin and on top.
NOW! you are going to want to let the seasonings from the injection sauce and turkey breast rub marinate into this beautiful bird. We've made this several times and highly recommend letting it marinate for 24 hours, but at least 1 hour if you are short on time.
How to smoke turkey breast?
Prepare your smoker by adding pellets. We 100% love Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill. It's so easy to use, clean and creates the most delicious food!
What kind of pellets do I use?
We use an applewood pellet, it is more mild in flavor. However, you can use your favorite!
When smoker is preheated to about 225 degrees add turkey breast to the center of the smoker, you will continue to let smoker heat to 350. Place breast side up.
As noted in many of the comments the first year I cooked it at 350 and had success, but the second and subsequent years I learned the same problem as many of you have suggested. The temp was too high. I also made a significant move where the outside temp and humidity is different. All these things can factor into how long and what temp you smoke your turkey. We have found keeping the smoker at 225-250 is good. But keep an eye on your turkey.
I've also had comments where it was freezing outside and the smoker kept turning off or temp kept dipping. They suggested buying a welding blanket and turning the temp up.
225F – 30 min per pound
250F – 25 min per pound
350F – 13 min per pound
One of my favorite features about the Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill is it comes with a thermometer! Insert that probe so you can watch your internal temperature of your turkey. Cook the turkey at the smoker temp 225-250 and the turkey's internal temp of the turkey to 165 degrees. You will have the most moist, perfect turkey for your dinner!! Let sit for about 20-30 minutes after removing from the smoker before you slice.
Have other questions?
CHECK THE COMMENTS!! Many of you grill masters have left amazing tips you have tried. One thing I love about cooking is making it your own... and I'm so glad you have left comments on how you like your turkey. I love having a community that helps and encourages! Thank you!!
Looking for other thanksgiving recipes? Try these
- How to Brine a Turkey
- Fried Turkey
- Creamy Mashed potatoes
- Homemade Turkey Gravy
- Candied Green Beans
- Bacon Brussel Sprouts
- Homemade Rolls
- Crescent Rolls
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Layered Jello Salad
- How to carve a turkey
- Creamy Shrimp Risotto
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Perfect Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe
- 1 large turkey breast
- 1 injection syringe
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ¼ cup room temp butter
Turkey Injection Marinade
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup oil
- 3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup water
- ½ fresh lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon onion salt
- Thaw your turkey breast completely, rinse and pat dry. Mix your injection marinade ingredients together and fill syringe. Poke 1 hole and move the needle into different positions as you push out marinade into the turkey. Do this in different parts of the birds, making as little holes as possible with getting the marinade in as much of the bird as possible.
- Take the soft or melted butter and rub all over the turkey, under the turkey skin and in the cavity. Mix the rub spices together and rub all over bird, in cavity and in under skin also.
- Wrap turkey in cling wrap so it is completely covered and refrigerate 1 hour -24 hours. The longer the better!
- Preheat smoker to 225 and add turkey, breast side up, to the smoker. Insert probe and close lid. Allow smoker temp to raise 350, but not over. The turkey need to come to an internal temp of 165 degrees. Once internal temp of 165 is reached remove from smoker, and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve!
absolute most trash recipe ever. none of those dried herbs will go through a meat injector.
Best smoked turkey we’ve ever tasted. Very juicy, tender and delicious.
Made this for thanksgiving and it was a hit. It outshined my wife's oven-baked turkey to my surprise. I did have a hard time getting the thyme to go through the marinade injector. Next time I will use ground thyme or run it through a processor first. It took a good 30 mins to get the injector to work from all the clogs. Overall great recipe.
Jacqueline Hollis says
Use this recipe for a whole turkey for thanksgiving dinner. Grilled on the egg,
It was a hit- Everyone said it was delicious!!!!
Nowell O says
Ok, great recipe. Couple of twists.
I stuffed the cavity of the breast with slices of orange and lemons, also used 12” bamboo skewers going under the breast (across) to keep stuff in, but also to help keep it upright on the smoker.
Took about 4.5 hours at 225, but then increased to 325F for last hour, just running out of time. Also used yardbird rub- which is great, easy rub, and in injection side- a bit spicier but great.
Yoder 480 smoker, cherry wood.
John George says
Found this recipe by accident. Decided to give it a try, Even though I'm not to skilled at useing a smoker.
It came out PERFECT. Even my picky eater kiddos loved it. Will definitely make again.
I am making this for the first time this year. I am not planning on serving this with the traditional gravy, dressing and mashed potatoes. I am only serving 4 adults, is the gravy going to be missed with this turkey?
No - this turkey is so flavorful and juicy on its own. You’re going to love it!
I’ve done this in the past with a bone-in breast. Would you recommend same instructions for boneless?
Yes - same instructions apply for boneless.
What brand of turkey breast do you like to use? Most have already bern injected with a salt solution. Does that matter?
yeah, it is kind of like a saline solution. It's fine. Sometimes some of the organic, natural have less or none at all.
I followed this recipe last year and it was a success, it’s been awhile and I’m going follow this recipe again but I do know last year I had to figure out how to smoke the turkey breast on my Traeger wood pallet smoker , can anyone suggest what temperature I smoke it at and how long ? I don’t plan on getting no more than a 10-12 pound turkey breast . Any advice or anything will help . Also do you set it in a foil pan or just straight on the grill ?
You can put the bird directly onto the grill, or in a pan to catch drippings if you prefer. Here are cooking temp recommendations
225F – 30 min per pound
250F – 25 min per pound
350F – 13 min per pound
Slow n low results in a better result. 225* + a longer cook time (I know, get up early). Extra effort = happy eaters 😎
It’s ok to spritz bird every hr & half with a little butter spray (like Pam; try for a ghee spray).
Can you do this with a whole turkey?
Yes - I have done a whole turkey. I inject and rub just the same. It just takes longer to smoke.
Andy Clenney says
Wonderful recipe. I made a few changes to fit my personal taste but used the lower temps and times. I used a store-bought rub (bourbon and molasses flavor) after I let it marinade 24 hours in Wicker's marinade. I don't like to poke holes in the meat, although I did use a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temp. I used a competition blend wood pellets, while the meat was smoking, I would spritz with apple juice about every hour. It keeps the bird moist and gives the skin a wonderful flavor As soon as the meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees, I remove from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil (shiny side in) and the residual heat from the meat will continue to raise the temp to 165. I will let the meat rest for a few minutes to redistribute the juices then slice and serve. Sometimes I will use the drippings from the bird to make a glaze that I will brush on about the last 15 minutes of cooking and then crank the heat up to caramelize the glaze. My dad always deep fries a Turkey and it is great. But, when I started serving this one right beside his, he usually takes most of his back home with him.
Phil Cox says
Nice job on adjusting! Sounds like a winner.
recipe says 1 tso of onion salt
is that a typo and should be teaspoon or table spoon ?
Sorry - it is one teaspoon.
Chris Harper says
5 stars says it all
This turned out amazing! Thank you!
Joseph Alsko says
Yes, the meat needs to reach 165 degrees for one second, but its also safe when the meat maintains a 145 degree temp for 10 minutes or 150 degree temp for three minutes.
So, do not smoke or oven cook your turkey at 350 degrees. Start cooking it earlier in the day at 225 degrees and when the white meat reaches 150 degrees let it cook for three more minutes and you'll be safe.
I've been doing it this way for over 10 years without any problems at all.
And you won't need to brine it since cooking it this way produces moust white meat.
Tim V says
I'm going to try Joseph's A's idea of 145 or 150 for the times he suggested because my 8 lb breast has been slowly going through the 140's and it has been in the smoker for at least 5 hours. The temp has never fallen below 200 before I put a new charge of charcoal and brought it back into the mid 250's to 275.
Should the rub onion and garlic salt really be onion and garlic powder?
You can definitely substitute the salts for powder if you are worried about the skin being too salty. It has never been too salty. The infused salt marinate the layers of meat underneath.
So, no one else had an issue taking off the "cling wrap"?
I have had issues when I don’t rub the butter first and have more of a butter/rub smear. If I do the butter and then use the rub like a dry rub the wrap comes off fine. Alternatively you could use foil.
Great recipe and tips, the turkey breast was a huge success! Great flavor for both the meat and the skin, and it was super moist and delicious. Smoked a 10 lb bone-in breast at 225 degrees (dome temp, so grate temp was closer to 250 degrees) for around 4 hours on a Weber Summit charcoal grill with apple wood chunks and good ole kingsford charcoal. I had marinated and rubbed it down Tuesday morning. Turned out perfect, everyone at the table agreed it was the best turkey they’d ever had. Thank you for this recipe!
Did no one have an issue with the injector clogging with this recipe? I had to strain it in order to inject it. Not off to a good start!
My injector didn't plug up (I did use my motor and pestle though). Did you have issues removing the cling wrap as well as most of the rub?
Yes ... same issue with clogging ... put mixture in ninja food processor and it worked ok.
Followed recipe exactly, Had great flavor, but was not the slightest bit tender. Might have just been a below average turkey breast.
Mike - Near Ann Arbor, MI says
Used a Weber 22” Kettle grill - 7 Lbs Bone in Turkey Breast - Great results.
Injector - I bought the one noted and link above from Amazon. It worked Great, and it comes with a cleaning brush - Follow the enclosed instructions - make sure you wash it as instructed (I had found leftover milling oils - No big deal, just wash it).
Injection Marinade - I Would suggest, and will try next time, using half the salt in the injection mix (ie: maybe use Garlic Salt, but then use Onion Powder or vise versa - someone said no salt; I may try that too… but for the rub I like salt).
Also, for the Injection Marinade - Do not use Thyme Leafs - use a quality Ground Thyme product or grind it very FINE yourself. I had dried Thyme from this year's garden, and I did not grind it up enough. Therefore, at the end of the injections it got plugged up and created vapor locks in the injector.
The Rub - Make sure the bird is dry, on and under the skin (use paper towel). I tried to incorporate the room temp butter with the dry rub mix - Don’t, I made a mess, yet it kind-of worked - not my finest idea.
The Grill setup - I used the old trusty Weber 22” Kettle grill with the grate that opens up on the sides to add wood chips and charcoal (the grill has been in the family for over 50 years, and love it) - I set the grill up for indirect cooking, with a water pan between the 2 sides of hot charcoal. I used charcoal baskets, it does keep things separated, and the charcoal in place.
Using a chimney starter the Charcoals were piping hot and ready to go, so it took no time to get the grill to 250, then 350 degrees.
I put the Turkey in a drip pan in the center of the grill. We had a bird that had a back bone. However, without the Thighs and Legs it was prone to falling over. So without a roasting rack I layed the bird on one breast. I will probably use a Roasting Rack next time, and still use a drip pan for the juices to baste the Turkey.
I added soaked Apple wood chips when the bird was placed on the grill - great smoke.
About every 45-60 minutes, I added about 8 - 10 new lumps of new charcoal and more wood chips. I also basted the bird in its own juices while the grill was open.
I turned the bird onto the other breast about 1½ hours, to brown the other side.
Cook Time was 2½ hours for the 7 Lbs Turkey. Got the bird to 165 degrees. I used the new Weber Connect to monitor both the Grill and the Bird temps - the online reviews were mixed, but it worked Great to monitor the grill temp and the bird.
I gave it 30 minutes to rest, covered in foil on a platter…
Unable to post my pictures here, but it looks like the other one posted above.
The Results - Moist, Tender, small smoke ring. Dang, for the first time trying all this, I have to say: We nailed it!!!
Happy Thanksgiving, to one and all.
Thank you Mike for all your tips!
350 is the high end for smoking, you are almost grilling at this point. You want your smoker around 250 for 30-40 minutes per pound of turkey breast (bone in). However, the spices and injectable options are on point!
Thanks Greg. After smoking again this year we have found the same. I'm making the adjustments in the recipe!
Matt pATRICK says
My bird is in the smoker right now, but in watching the video I realized Onion Salt, and Garlic Salt are listed in the "rub ingredients" while Onion Powder and Garlic Powder are used in the video....
I hope my bird is over salted.
I followed this recipe to smoke a turkey breast for the first time. OMG !! Normally my wife will roast a turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving and we eat turkey for a few days after. This turkey breast lasted 24 hours and it was just her and I eating it. So moist and flavorful.
As a side note, I used a 50/50 mix of apple and cherry wood in the smoker.
I love hearing what wood you used! and so glad it turned out amazing!
How long did your turkey take in the traeger ?
Hi! I would absolutely love to use this recipe for 2 smoked turkey breasts on Thanksgiving! Do you know how much longer I would need to smoke for two? Would there need to be any other adjustments? I have a Traeger but don’t use it much and wasn’t sure. Thanks so much for any input—can’t wait to try your recipe!
it shouldn't take much longer than smoking one. Just keep an thermometer in the turkeys. If they are spaced evenly and your treager keeps a consistent temperature you'll be good!
Turned out great. Will pass this On to others
Michael J Papoi says
I find your directions for the smoker confusing. You put the turkey in the smoker @ 225. How long? When do you raise the temp to 350?
Hi Michael, There is not an exact time for you to leave the turkey on the smoker because will need to go by the internal temperature not by a time.
Preheat smoker to 225 and add turkey, breast side up, to the smoker. Insert probe and close lid. Allow smoker temp to raise 350, but not over. The turkey need to come to an internal temp of 165 degrees. Once internal temp of 165 is reached remove from smoker, and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve!
I’m smoking an 8 lb. young turkey breast using this recipe. Question, it says rest for 20 minutes, would it hurt to rest for 2 hours if we’re not ready to carve/eat yet? (Or perhaps longer) Or do you recommend sticking to the 20 minutes and perhaps keeping it warm in a crock pot?
When we have made it a few hours before serving we wrap it in foil and stick it in a cooler. Sometimes add some towels to keep the heat in and it works great!
Di you baste this while its smoking? I’m thinking that I can use the injection sauce to baste... or does it not need it?
Ours didn't need it any basting- so we didn't do that, but you totally can use leftover injection sauce and try it.
John sc says
Best smoked turkey I’ve ever eaten, hands down.
I made this recipe and loved it! I used garlic powder and onion powder in the injection cause it seemed like I all ready had plenty of salt in the rub. My smoker would not get hot enough to cook through so I smoked it at 225 for a hour and half and then put it in the oven at 350 to finish and it turned out amazing! Perfect amount of Smokey flavor and very juicy. Definitely would make again.
Mitch Newman says
Smoked 2 4.5lb breasts at 275 with this recipe and only took 4 hours, hands down better than the traditional roasted turkey we did as well. This will become a recipe we use year round, thank you!
Is that sodium right?
definitely not! I've fixed the nutrition I think it was counting the peanut oil!
no, for some reason the nutrition calculator is really off for that? and I can't seem to fix it.
Are you using a pre brined bird?
No, The bird is thawed and injected with a marinade.
When I find a recipe's timing to be suspect, I generally check the comments, and I did so with this recipe and nothing contradicted what was written. Having just roasted a turkey breast last weekend, I thought 30 minutes a pound sounded excessive, and it was, by double. If you are using a vertical pellet smoker, like my Pit Boss, you can expect this to take about 15 minutes per pound for a turkey breast. I'm not sure if the grill style smokers are less efficient or if the timing is based on a whole turkey.
Thanks Matt for your input- especially because you are using an entirely different smoker system. The fun part of smoking is that it’s not an exact science, there’s always a “stall” period in meat temp when smoking, so it’s always best to check the temp regularly and the timing is a recommendation. Also depends on outside temp when smoking. We smoked ours in So Co and temp outside was in 60-70s. Because there are so many different smokers in all shapes, sizes, ways they smoke (electric, pellet etc) even the weather you are smoking in can effect all of this... it is especially important to go by the internal temp of the bird, which is why I put it in the recipe and the post many times. I've done a lot of research and compared a lot of smoked cooking times and all of them were the same as what I recommended.
Thanks for the response! According to my smoker it was 30 degrees out when I started the smoke here in Rhode Island. I never got a stall, although I have had that happen with pork and beef. Followed the thermometer and it was cooked perfectly. Nice long rest after probably didn't hurt either.
Agree on the temps. I have the Pit Boss and at 350 my 7lb breast was gonna be done in about 90 minutes. Turned temp down to 250 and will see if I can slow it down. At 1 hour on 350 internal temp was already 125.
Thanks for adding your time on your different cookers! I'm sure its very helpful for other readers. I've made this several times on our camp chef and it is always the same, but I can understand it would be different depending on a variety factors.
As a confirmation to the time which some have mentioned on here, at 350F, 30 minutes per pound is too long. My gut was telling me it seemed off, but I went by the recipe and didn’t follow my gut. I did a 18lb whole turkey on my CampChef woodwind, so planned on a 9hr cook at 30 min per pound. My turkey was done after 4hrs (way too early). As a result, I had to carve it and put it in the fridge to reheat when we were ready to eat 4-5 hours later.
Here is a guide on times
225F - 30 min per pound
250F - 25 min per pound
350F - 13 min per pound
Thanks! After smoking again this year we have found the same. I'm making the adjustments in the recipe! I'm glad we have a community to help out!
made this for a friendsgiving and the plate was licked clean. major compliments all around
Curious if you followed recipe with salts for both rub and marinade? Or did you use powders as video showed?
I use salt. If I use powders I add salt. A turkey requires a lot of salt for seasoning.
I used this and smoked a whole turkey and it worked amazing! it was a hit, everyone said it was the best turkey they had ever had.
Ok...maybe I'm reading this wrong, but right now I"m confused. The article mentions 3 different temperatures for the smoker. 225, 350, and 325. So at what temperature do you set the smoker? If you change temperatures during the cook, at what point do you make the change? Please elaborate on smoker temperature. Thank you.
Hi Russ, sorry for the confusion- You put the turkey in the smoker at 225 while it preheats to 350. You want the smoker to stay at 350 until the turkey has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. :)
This turkey turned out amazing, I used this recipe and did a whole turkey. SO GOOD. I have a camp chef too and LOVE it. They are definitely the best smoker on the market!
I can't agree more! We love camp chef too! and I'm so happy it turned out amazing!
I made two turkey this year for family and friends one smoked (this recipe), one baked and this was hands down everyones favorite. They kept commenting how much they loved the smoked turkey! Loved all your tips.
That makes my day! I had a similar experience- smoked turkey won hands down!