Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast

Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast

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I could eat this brined hickory-smoked turkey breast all year long! In fact, if I see a turkey breast at the store, I’ll take it home. Then have David throw it on the smoker alongside ribs and anything else he is smoking.

This hickory smoked turkey breast is brined in our Pork and Poultry Brine. This brine is made of a basic sugar and salt water solution with apple juice, maple syrup. It has aromatics such as garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes (don’t worry it’s not that spicy). Then slow-smoked at a low temperature until it’s tender and juicy at a done temperature of 165 degrees F. 

brined hickory-smoked turkey breast on smoker

You may notice that we did not put a rub on this chicken before smoking. This is David’s personal preference as it can be slightly bitter and most of the time the rub comes off when the breast meat is sliced thin for sandwiches. Feel free to add a poultry rub to your turkey breast prior to smoking.

You can find a recipe for a poultry rub HERE.

Whether you smoke a turkey breast for Thanksgiving or looking for some amazing sandwich meat for a week’s worth of sandwiches. We highly recommend this recipe for brined hickory-smoked turkey breast. It is easy to follow and perfect for small gatherings, using only a handful of ingredients. The hardest part will be waiting for it to cool.

Let us help you smoke a turkey breast!

brined hickory-smoked turkey breast sliced on cutting board

How To Make Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast

Equipment Needed:

Ingredients:

4 to 6 pound turkey breast – thawed according to package instructions, if frozen

For The Brine:

  • water
  • apple juice
  • kosher salt
  • maple syrup
  • brown sugar
  • crushed red pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
brine ingredients

How To Brine The Turkey Breast

Combine all the ingredients of the brine solution, in a large bowl. Whisk the solution until all of the salt dissolves. 

Tip: Using a glass bowl helps you see whether or not the salt dissolves. Another way to check is to use a spoon and scoop up the brine from the bottom. There should be no salt in the spoon.

Place the breast into a 1 to 2 gallon size zip-top bag. Pour the brine solution over the meat. Make sure the meat is submerged completely. If you do not have enough to cover the meat, then make another batch.

pouring brine into zip-top bag

Seal the bag squeezing as much air out of the bag as possible. Place the bag inside a bowl (to ensure no messy leaks inside the refrigerator).

Refrigerate and brine for 1 hour per pound of meat, but no longer than 24 hours.

turkey breast on smoker

How To Smoke The Turkey Breast

A turkey breast can be smoked on any type of grill or smoker as long as you cook it over indirect heat and maintain a constant temperature. For this smoke, David used our offset smoker, “Charlie”, a Texas Original Pit.

Preheat the grill or smoker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees F. Fill a pan with warm water and place it below where the turkey will sit on the grate above. The water helps to stabilize the temperature inside the smoker. It’s a great thing to do with offset smokers and kettle grills.

Remove the turkey breast from the brine solution and rinse it under cold water. Pat the skin dry with paper towels.

Place the turkey breast-side up onto the smoker over the water pan. 

Plan on smoking the turkey breast for about 30 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F. 

David opening smoker with several pieces of meat on it

It’s important to cook the turkey based on the temperature, not time. There are a lot of variables that can affect the outcome. David usually uses a Thermoworks Smoke™ probe thermometer, but since he had other meat on the smoker that day it was unavailable. Instead, he allowed the turkey breast to smoke for 1 hour then periodically checked the temperature of the turkey breast every 30 minutes thereafter with his Thermapen instant-read thermometer and observed the pop-up on the turkey. 

[Learn more about the Theromoworks thermometers David uses for smoking HERE]

Place turkey breasts in the smoker with 1 to 2 hickory chunks on top of the hot coals. Close the lid and smoke the turkey, keeping a close watch on the smoker to ensure it stays as close to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood to maintain temperature and smoke.

Smoke until the turkey breast has an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F, about 2 to 3 hours for a 5-pound turkey breast.  

The carryover heat will finish cooking the meat. 

brined hickory-smoked turkey breast sliced with mountain view

Other Smoked Turkey Recipes:

To me smoked turkey is ALWAYS better cold after it spends a night in the refrigerator. That’s not to say it isn’t good warm off the smoker, but there’s just something amazing about smoked turkey the day after the smoke.

Whether you eat it warm or cold, we hope this delicious brined hickory-smoked turkey breast will make an appearance at your small holiday gatherings this season! If it does give this recipe a star rating and comment below!

Rest, Carve and Serve The Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast

Remove the turkey breast from the smoker and transfer it to a carving board. Allow the turkey breast to rest tented with foil for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

brined hickor-smoked turkey breast sliced on cutting board
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Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast

Try this recipe for brined hickory-smoked turkey breast this holiday season or if you’re just looking for some amazing sandwich meat!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Hickory-Smoked, smoked turkey, Turkey, turkey breast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6

Useful Equipment:

Ingredients

  • 5 pound turkey breast within a 4-7 pound range, thawed if frozen

For The Brine:

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

Instructions

How To Brine The Turkey Breast:

  • Combine all the ingredients of the brine solution, in a large bowl. Whisk the solution until all of the salt dissolves.
  • Place the breast into a 1 to 2-gallon size zip-top bag. Pour the brine solution over the meat. Make sure the meat is submerged completely. If you do not have enough to cover the meat, then make another batch.
  • Seal the bag squeezing as much air out of the bag as possible. Place the bag inside a bowl (to ensure no messy leaks inside the refrigerator).
  • Refrigerate and brine for 1 hour per pound of meat, but no longer than 24 hours.

How To Smoke Turkey Breast:

  • Preheat the grill or smoker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees F. Fill a pan with warm water and place it below where the turkey will sit on the grate above.
  • Remove the turkey breast from the brine solution and rinse it under cold water. Pat the skin dry with paper towels.
  • Place the turkey breast-side up onto the smoker over the water pan.
  • Plan on smoking the turkey breast for about 30 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F.
  • Place turkey breasts in the smoker with 1 to 2 hickory chunks on top of the hot coals. Close the lid and smoke the turkey, keeping a close watch on the smoker to ensure it stays as close to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood to maintain temperature and smoke.
  • Smoke until the turkey breast has an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F, about 2 to 3 hours for a 5-pound turkey breast.
  • The carryover heat will finish cooking the meat.

Rest, Carve and Serve The Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast:

  • Remove the turkey breast from the smoker and transfer it to a carving board. Allow the turkey breast to rest tented with foil for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Tip: Using a glass bowl helps you see whether or not the salt dissolves. Another way to check is to use a spoon and scoop up the brine from the bottom. There should be no salt in the spoon.
About Temperature: It’s important to cook the turkey based on the temperature, not time. There are a lot of variables that can affect the outcome. David usually uses a Thermoworks Smoke™ probe thermometer, but since he had other meat on the smoker that day it was unavailable. Instead, he allowed the turkey breast to smoke for 1 hour then periodically checked the temperature of the turkey breast every 30 minutes thereafter with his Thermapen instant-read thermometer and observed the pop-up on the turkey. [Learn more about the Theromoworks thermometers David uses for smoking HERE]
Did you try this recipe? Tell us what you think!Give this recipe a star rating, leave a comment below and share pictures of your food with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! We can’t wait to see them! Don’t forget to mention @TheMountainKitchen or tag #TheMountainKitchen!

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1 thought on “Brined Hickory-Smoked Turkey Breast”

  • Love this. We have not smoked turkey for ages. I remember a big party I had , very casual, on new year’s day, and I offered sandwiches of ham and smoked turkey, and people went nuts for it! Nowadays we have an electric smoker – Bradley – and it works really well. Gotta go dust that thing off!

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