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How to Smoke a Turkey Breast: Turkey Isn’t Just For Thanksgiving Anymore

Learn how to Smoke a Turkey Breast with our simple recipe.  Turkey Breasts are perfect for feeding a smaller crowd and they are just as flavorful tender as the big bird!  They provide delicious meat without the hassle of all the extra bones to worry about. 

My father used to make the most amazingly juicy and flavorful turkey. And not just for Thanksgiving in November. We would have a full blown Thanksgiving dinner about 4 times a year, complete with stuffing, pies and cranberry sauce.

And my dad never ruined a turkey. Not once.

But he roasted his in the oven ALL DAY which was a bit labor intensive and required some serious skill in order to achieve juicy meat and crispy skin. I will never be able to roast a turkey like he did, and I’m ok with that because I’ll always remember that he was THAT good at it. We plan on traveling out of town this Thanksgiving and its definitely not ideal to pack up the Traeger Timberline and smoke a whole turkey so we’re doing the next best thing.

Using the Traeger Ranger Portable Smoker and Grill and we’re smoking a turkey breast. Here’s the recipe for the finest smoked turkey breast you’ve ever had.

Where do you find a Turkey Breast?

Finding a turkey breast is super simple! You can find them at your grocery store or local meat market. Typically they are sold right next to the whole turkeys and can be found year round.

Why a Turkey Breast?

I love smoking turkey breast when I’m feeding a smaller crowd. It is the perfect way to enjoy turkey without having to cook an entire bird- especially if you aren’t serving that many people. If you want to make sure you’ll have enough- a good rule of thumb is planning for 14 lb of turkey per person. Of course, take into consideration if you are feeding mainly adults or children. That could skew your planning a little bit but it is a great place to start.

How long should you brine a  Turkey Breast?

You will want to let your turkey brine for up to 24 hours to get the maximum flavor. You can always do less but if you plan ahead- 24 hours is optimal.

How long do you smoke a Turkey Breast?

For a 5-7 pound turkey breast you should plan on smoking it for about two hours until it reaches 145 degrees. After your breast reaches about 140 degrees you will increase your grill temperature to 350 degrees and finish cooking until it reaches about 165 degrees.

To get the most accurate reading I highly suggest you use a meat thermometer. I love mine from Thermoworks– I don’t smoke anything without it!

How to Prepare and Brine a Turkey Breast

This recipe requires brining so plan ahead and give yourself enough time to properly brine your turkey.

  1. Brine the 5-7 lb turkey breast for at least 12 hours (overnight) but you can leave it in the brine for up to 24 hours.
  2. In a 5 gallon bucket, combine ¾ C Kosher or Pickling Salt, 4 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar and 2 Tbsp poultry rub with 1 gallon warm water.
  3. Once all the salt, brown sugar and rub have dissolved, add 2 lbs ice to cool down brine mixture.
  4. Once brine is cold, place your turkey breast side down in the brine.
  5. Make sure it is completely submerged. You may want to place something in your 5 gallon bucket to keep the turkey from moving.
  6. Leave your bucket in the fridge or in a cooler surrounded by ice for 12-24 hours.

How to Smoke Your Turkey Breast


  1. Preheat your smoker to 180-225 degrees F and remove your turkey from the brine. 180 degrees F will give you more smoke flavor. 225 degrees F will still give good smoke flavor but cook faster.
  2. Cover breast with seasoning of your choice. I used Traeger Fin and Feather Rub for this cook.
  3. Place turkey breast directly on the grill and insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.
  4. Smoke for 1-2.5 hours or until your turkey breast reaches 145 degrees F.
  5. Once your turkey breast reaches 140 degrees F, increase your heat to 350 degrees F and finish cooking until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F.
  6. Remove from grill and let rest for 15-20 minutes.

How to carve a Turkey Breast

Some folks carve their turkey breast while it is still on the bone lengthwise.

I prefer to remove the breast meat and slice it the short way (as pictured). This cut doesn’t take up as much room on your plate so you’ll have space for other foods to compliment your juicy, delicious turkey breast.


  • 1 Turkey Breast (5-7 lbs)
  • ¾ C Kosher/Pickling Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Poultry Rub
  • 2 lbs Ice
  • Poultry Rub to Cover Turkey


  1. Remove any leftover feathers and rinse Turkey
  2. Brine Turkey 12-24 hours in refrigerator or cooler surrounded by ice
  3. Season Turkey Breast
  4. Smoke for 1-2.5 hours at 180 or 225 degrees F.
  5. Increase heat to 350 degrees F and cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  6. Slice and Enjoy!

Tools Used

Traeger Ranger Grill
5 Gallon Bucket
Internal Probe Thermometer
Instant Read Thermometer

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What should you serve with turkey breast?

Turkey Breast tastes delicious with many different side dishes.

You can’t go wrong with your typical Thanksgiving feast. I’m talking mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls- the works!

You can also serve it with a simple salad or veggie if you aren’t preparing for a holiday meal.

Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Recipe Guide for all sorts of recipes that go well with a turkey breast!

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