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Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast for Thanksgiving

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For many people, the big turkey absolutely must be on the table in all of it's glory for Thanksgiving but if you really want to make it simple and tasty without the fuss, smoked boneless turkey breast is the best way to go.

They are easy to prepare, devilishly delicious, can be cooked in the smoker in under 4 hours, and are easy to slice into individual servings. It's a win-win for everyone!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Brine Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple
What You’ll Need
  • Boneless turkey breasts (each one weighs about 3 lbs and feeds 5 to 6 people)
  • Turkey brine recipe (below)
  • Cooking oil
  • Jeff's original rub
About Brining

I almost always brine poultry and especially the cuts that contain mostly white meat like the turkey breast. Brining turns out birds that are a lot more awesome than they are without brining.

Brining in a nutshell is simply soaking meat, such as turkey, in a 6% salty solution for several hours. The salty solution is drawn deep into the meat fibers making it more flavorful and more moist. If you add flavors such as herbs, spices, juice, etc. to the brine, those flavors also end up inside the meat. It's easy to see how potentially beneficial and exciting this can be.

Below you will find the turkey brine recipe that I created for this Thanksgiving and I am using it on all of the turkey that I prepare this month.

Make the Brine

Get the brine made up a day or two early so it can cool down in the fridge before you need to use it. You can always add ice but that dilutes it some.


  • 3 quarts of water (approx.)
  • 1 to 1.5 quarts of ice
  • A couple of 4-inch sprigs of thyme
  • A couple of 4-inch sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of course ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 8-10 garlic cloves smashed with the side of a knife to release lots of flavor.
  • 1 cup of kosher salt


Add 1 quart of the water, the rosemary and thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic into a medium sized pot. Cover the pot and bring it just to boiling and then turn off the heat. Let the ingredients steep in the water for 20-30 minutes before removing the cover. Put the “tea” in the fridge to cool down. I recommend giving it several hours at least but overnight is best.

If you procrastinated, don't worry.. I have your back. Simply pour the hot brine through a sieve into a gallon sized pitcher. Add about a quart of ice and stir the ice and brine mixture to cool it down.

Add more ice if you need to to cool it on down.

Finally, to the pre-cooled brine mixture, add enough cold water to bring it up to a gallon.. you should have a total of 1 gallon of liquid in the pitcher.

Add 1 cup of kosher salt to this liquid and stir gently for a minute or two until the salt is completely dissolved.

This, my friends, is your brine.

Note: if you want to make a simple brine with nothing extra, add 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of cold water and stir until the salt is dissolved. This will also do wonders for the juiciness of the turkey.. it just won't add anything other than a little bit of saltiness to the meat.

Initial Prep

There's not a lot to do to these boneless wonders. Remove the outside packaging but leave them in the net they come in as this holds them in that football shape while they cook.

Brining the Turkey Breast(s)

Place the netted turkey breasts into a large zip top bag and pour brine over them to cover.

Seal the bag and place it down in a larger bowl in case of leakage.


Brine the turkey in the fridge for about 4 hours.

When the brining is complete, rinse the turkey breasts under cold water and discard the brining liquid.


Season the Turkey with Jeff's Original Rub

Once again, leave the nets in place around the turkey breasts.

Brush some cooking oil onto the turkey breasts and season liberally with Jeff's original rub .


Set Up Smoker

Setup your smoker for cooking at 225-240°F with indirect heat. Fill the water pan if your smoker has one.

Make sure you have enough wood for 3-4 hours of smoke. I used apple wood for these but any good smoking wood will work great.

Let the smoker preheat for about 30 minutes and you are good to go.

Smoke the Turkey

Place the turkey on a Weber grill pan or a Bradley rack for easy transport to and from the smoker. You can also use an ordinary cooling rack for this.

Set the pan or rack on the smoker grate and close the door to let the cooking commence.

You can expect these boneless turkey breasts to take about 3.5 to 4 hours but time is not an indicator of when the turkey is done.

Remember that the only way to know if your turkey is both safe to eat and not overcooked is with an accurate digital thermometer.

I monitored the temperature of my smoker and the turkey breasts with the “Smoke” thermometer by Thermoworks and I have been so impressed with this new smoking gadget!

The main part of the unit stays outside by the smoker..


The receiver part of the unit goes around your neck, in your pocket or on the table next to where you are.


This is the best product that's come out in a long time for us smokers.. range is about 300 feet, big, easy to read numbers, batteries last 1800 hours, it lights up, it's splash proof and it's super easy to set the high and low alarms.

The best part is that it comes paired together from the factory so when you turn it on, it's immediately ready to go.

Get your hands on one of these and you'll see what I mean.. it looks and feels extremely tough. Check it out!

Turkey is safely done at 165°F however, as we've discussed before, turkey tends to keep cooking for several minutes after you remove it from the heat.

I usually figure on about 3 degrees of carryover cooking on these and to be on the conservative side of safe, I  remove them from the heat at 162°F.

Finish and Serve

When the boneless turkey breast has reaches 162°F, remove it from the heat immediately and carry it into the house.


Tent a loose piece of foil over it and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. During this time, it will rise to 165°F and the juices inside will redistribute throughout the turkey.

When the rest time is finished, remove the netting with scissors or a sharp knife. Be careful so you don't disturb the rub crust on the outside more than is necessary.


Slice the boneless turkey breast into ½ inch pieces and serve.

Can you see how juicy that is?


4.7 from 12 votes

Smoked Boneless Turkey Breast for Thanksgiving

For many people, the big bird absolutely must be on the table in all of it's glory for Thanksgiving but if you really want to make it simple and tasty without the fuss, smoked boneless turkey breast is the best way to go.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6


  • Boneless turkey breasts (each one weighs about 3 lbs and feeds 5 to 6 people)
  • Turkey brine recipe (below)
  • Cooking oil
  • Jeff's original rub


  • Remove the turkey breast from the packaging but leave the net intact as this is what holds it's shape while it cooks.
  • To a medium pot add 1 quart of water, 1 TBS of course ground black pepper, 1 TBS of red pepper flakes, 2 long sprigs of thyme, 2 long sprigs of rosemary and 8-10 garlic cloves smashed with the side of a knife.
  • Bring to a boil then remove it from the heat and let it steep covered for 20-30 minutes.
  • Place the mixture in the fridge for several hours to cool.
  • To make the brine, add 3 quarts of cold water to a gallon sized pitcher and 1 cup of kosher salt.
  • Stir the mixture until the salt is dissolved.
  • Add the cooled mixture from the fridge into the brine and stir to combine.
  • Place the turkey breasts into a brining container and pour the brine over the turkey to cover and then into the fridge for 4 hours.
  • After brining is complete, rinse the turkey breasts under cold water.
  • With the net still intact, brush on a little cooking oil and season the outside of the turkey breasts liberally with Jeff's original rub.
  • Set the seasoned turkey onto Weber grill pans, Bradley racks or regular cooling racks and they are ready to go into the smoker
  • Setup your smoker for cooking at 225-240 °F with indirect heat.
  • When the smoker is preheated, place the pan with the turkey breasts into the smoker.
  • Let the turkey cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 162°F.
  • Remove the turkey from the smoker and let it rest under loose foil for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the net from the turkey breasts being careful to not disturb the crust more than necessary.
  • Slice and serve.

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4.67 from 12 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Looks awesome! Question for you: can I brine longer than 4 hours? Looking to throw these on the smoker around 8am, and would rather not get up at 3:30am to start the brining process…Wondering if a longer brine has any negative effects. Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    I fixed several of these for my wife’s office party at Thanksgiving. It turned out perfect. There was Turkey and Ham available and she had several people coming back for their third helping of turkey! No turkey came home! Her office has several smoking aficionados and they all said I nailed the turkey.

  3. 5 stars
    I have been using this method for four years running and my family starts to salivate right about the end of September. The way that these turn out is perfect every time, you can not mess them up.

  4. I am a new smoking lady with a RecTec 700, bought for my husband…he has been physically unable to use it so it fell to me…I used this recipe, my first time brining anything, and this turkey breast was so delicious….so moist and tender and flavorful…Thank you!

  5. Just tried this today. Rave reviews from the family including a very picky 12 yr old daughter. Green egg guy here and was a bit surprised by the 4:30 cook time to get to 160, but always happy to get time back in the day. Thanks for the tips!

  6. 3 stars
    Hi Jeff,

    I followed your brine recipe, but reduced the salt by 25%. Brined the turkey breast for about 8 hours.

    Smoked for appropriate time, but the meat was WAY TOO SALTY. No one in my family finished their turkey. If I cut into the middle of the turkey breast it was good, but close to the outside way too salty. And I only used 3/4 the amount of salt you have on your brine recipe.

    Is my family the only one to experience this?

    1. You have to use the full amount Of salt and you have to brine it for at least 12 hrs. 18 hrs is better. Brine is a chemical process. It initially draws in the salt and then exchanges the salt for water. If you interrupt the process by taking it out too soon or you don’t use the correct salt ratio you’ll get the result you got. I also lightly rinse with water after removing from the brine.

  7. 5 stars
    JP, followed the recipe to a T, got a thermometer where I can closely watch the internal temps… Rave results, everyone enjoyed. Biggest superlative was the tenderness. I took the meat off the smoker 3 hrs before meal time. I didn’t cut until an hour before cook time and it was still tender than anytime I’ve fried/baked traditionally. Will do again and it freed up my oven for the other dishes. THX AGN…

    1. I highly recommend brining even pre-injected birds. The process you can do at home is far superior to what they do in the factory and there should be no worry of it being too salty as long as you follow the 6% solution I recommend.. 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of water.

      1. Another question. Gonna make some legs with this like your previous article. Can I just use this same brine for the legs?

      2. Thanks. I will be making Turkey legs with the breast using your other recipe. Was wondering if I could use the breast brine recipe for the legs so I don’t have to make two brines.

  8. 5 stars
    Maple smoked turkey is definitely my favorite way to cook a bird. My first time in 2014 I smoked one bird and was criticized for running out. The next year I got (barely) two 14 pound birds into my BGE, and that is now my standard practice. I can cook two in the time to cook one, and my big family now expects two for Thanksgiving. Great recipe. Thanks.