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Smoked Turkey Breast

WebMD Recipe from

Total Time: 9 hrs (including 6 hrs brining time)

Smoked Turkey Breast

This smoked turkey breast is great for entertaining because it feeds a crowd. Plus there’s not much to do except wait while the brine turns the bird luxurious and then wait again until the grill turns it irresistible.


  • 12 cups (3 quarts) water, divided
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, smashed
  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed in large strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 6-pound bone-in whole turkey breast, (see Shopping Tip)
  • 1 pound wood chips, (about 8 cups), such as apple or hickory wood


Step 1
Place 4 cups (1 quart) water, salt, shallot, garlic, lemon zest, thyme, sage, bay leaves and allspice berries in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Step 2
Pour the brine into a large bowl or clean tub; add the remaining 8 cups (2 quarts) water. Set turkey in the brine and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Step 3
Two hours before preheating the grill, place wood chips in a large bowl of water to soak.
Step 4
About 20 minutes before you are ready to grill, preheat a gas grill with all burners lit to 300°F or build a fire in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to low heat (about 300°F).
Step 5
Drain the wood chips. If using a gas grill, fold a 12-by-20-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to create a 12-by-10-inch double-thick piece. Transfer the wet wood chips to the center of the foil and crimp up the edges to create a “basket.” (If you have a gas grill with a smoking box, place the chips directly into the box.) Set the foil basket on the grill rack directly over the heat source. If using a charcoal grill, you will add the chips directly to the coals as the turkey cooks.
Step 6
If using a gas grill, turn off one burner (leaving 1 to 2 burners lit, depending on your grill). If using a charcoal grill, move the coals to one side.
Step 7
Remove the turkey from the brine, pat dry and set on the unheated side of the grill rack. If using a charcoal grill, place one-third of the wood chips on the coals. Close the lid and roast undisturbed for 40 minutes.
Step 8
Rotate the turkey 180 degrees, add half the remaining wood chips to the coals if using a charcoal grill, cover and continue roasting for 40 minutes.
Step 9
Rotate the turkey 180 degrees one more time, add the remaining wood chips if using a charcoal grill, cover and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat without touching bone registers 165°F, 40 minutes to 1 hour more. Transfer the turkey to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Shopping tip: This recipe was developed for a minimally processed turkey. You can use a turkey breast that has been “enhanced” with saline solution (check the label for added sodium to be sure), but reduce the brining time to 3 hours. Overbrining an already “enhanced” turkey breast will make it too salty.

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