Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Smoke a Turkey Breast on the Grill

Looking for a slice of Thanksgiving any time of the year, in less than two hours?

Cooking a whole turkey is an ordeal. There’s a lot of prep work, it takes days to thaw (while it consumes your entire refrigerator), and then it takes hours to cook. Done right, it’s delicious and totally worth the effort. But still, an ordeal.

A turkey breast, on the other hand, thaws overnight, doesn’t take up too much fridge space, and can be smoked in less than two hours (just enough time to make corn bread dressing while it smokes, but that’s a recipe for another day . . . stay tuned).

With just a little prep work, you can have a moist, juicy, flavorful smoked turkey any day of the year – give it a shot!


1 turkey breast (about 4-5 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter

Brine ingredients:

Water (about 2 quarts – enough to cover the whole breast)
½ cup salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup lemon juice (or two lemons, cut in half and squeezed)
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary)
1 tablespoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh)

Rub ingredients:

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon herbed poultry seasoning


1.    The night before you’re planning to smoke the turkey, mix the brining ingredients in a large bowl and submerge the turkey. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2.    When you’re ready to cook, fill a chimney starter with charcoal and begin to heat the coals. Soak wood chunks in water.
3.    While the charcoal is getting hot, prep the turkey. Remove it from the brine, and discard solution. Pat the turkey dry. Rub it with the butter, then sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, herbed poultry seasoning and paprika (feel free to mix up the spices to get the flavor you want).
4.    When the coals are ready, set up your grill for indirect heat (like you would for BBQ pork shoulder). Place charcoal on one side of the grill. Place a drip pan on the other side, next to the goals. Place soaked wood chunks directly on the charcoal, then add the grill grate.
5.    Place the turkey above the drip pan, on the opposite side of the grill from the charcoal and wood. Cover the grill, with the holes in the lid directly above the turkey.

6.    Smoke turkey, covered, for 40 minutes. Rotate the turkey 180 degrees, add newly soaked wood chunks, and recover.
7.    Smoke turkey another 40 minutes. Rotate turkey again, add more wood chunks, and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, not touching the bone.
8.    Continue smoking turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove turkey from the grill. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

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