1st Smoked Turkey Breast

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smokedout13, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Hello,

    Im looking to do my first turkey breasts. I have done 2 whole turkeys and they turned out excellent. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on brine, cook time, and temp. I cant wait to hear some brine recipes and appreciate everyones input. Also I am doing this cook for 30 people and didnt know if I should cook them the night before or try my best to cook them the day of. I didnt know if it would re heat as well. Thank you
  2. sqwib

    sqwib OTBS Member

    Definitely Brine,

    Here's what I use, I tweak sometimes but try to keep the ratios accurate somewhat

    • Water to salt ratio is 1:16 or 1 cup of Kosher salt per gallon of non-chlorinated water.

    • Sugar reduces the the taste of the salt, use the same ratio as the salt.

    • Whole Birds brine for about an hour a pound.
    • Breasts no more than 5-6 hours

    Turkey Brine:
    • 2 Gal Water
    • 2 Cups Kosher Salt
    • 2 Cups Sugar (1 Cup white + 1 Cup Brown)
    • 4 TBS Black Pepper
    • 1 TBS Dried Rosemary
    • 1 TBS Thyme
    • 1/4 Cup White Wine or dry vermouth. (not Cooking Wine)
    Combine all ingredients to 1 gallon of water in a large pot and bring to a slow simmer for 10 minute stirring, remove from heat and cool in refrigerator. Reserve  a few ounces for the beer can.
    In a cooler add ice and the brine, submerge bird in brine, (weigh down if needed) add ice as needed, after brine period remove and rinse, pat dry.
  3. Thank you very much for the recipe. I can't wait to get you some feedback. Would you recommend brushing bbq sauce on it towards the end? Or just leave it with the rub
  4. One thought you should consider is that many commercial turkey breasts are already brined when you get them. That doesn't mean you can't brine them again but you might be able to leave out some of the salt because it is already there. Read the label on the package and see if it says anything like enhanced or the like.
  5. sqwib

    sqwib OTBS Member

    That's subjective, however If I was doing a brined breast, it I would air dry overnight uncovered after the brine and just use a few simple (dry) spices (no sugar).

    You could brush it with a favorite sauce 20 minutes or so before the end but it would soften the skin in my opinion, stick with dry and season the skin and butter up between the skin and breast.

    Hopefully others will chime in as this is only one persons input.
  6. I have always had good luck with stuffing my turkey breasts and wrapping in bacon. My favorite is jalapeno and cream cheese but I did one with asparagus and cream cheese with fresh basil that was extraordinary. It is very easy to over cook and dry out a turkey breast. The brine helps but if you don't want a Hammy texture don't over brine. I would find a recipe that someone has documented on here and follow it to the T for the first time you do it. Then you can experiment later. Just my 2 cents. Happy smoking. timber 
  7. sqwib

    sqwib OTBS Member


    Found this on Serious eats and will be trying this soon, I need to come to my own conclusion on this, but you can give it a shot if you like, but give us some feedback if you do!

    Traditional vs. Dry Brine—Which is Better?

    I vastly prefer dry-brining. A traditional brine will plump up your turkey with moisture, but that moisture is mainly water, leading to a turkey that tastes watered down. A dry brine, on the other hand, helps a turkey retain its natural moisture without adding any excess liquid, which leads to more intensely flavored end results.

    Adding baking powder to a dry brine can also improves your turkey skin. Not only does the baking powder work to break down some skin proteins, causing them crisp and brown more efficiently, but it also combines with turkey juices, forming microscopic bubbles that add surface area and crunch to your skin as it roasts.

    How to Dry Brine

    Combine half a cup of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt) with two tablespoons of baking powder in a bowl. Carefully pat your turkey dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle it on all surfaces with the salt mixture by picking up the mixture between your thumb and fingers, holding it six to ten inches above the bird and letting the mixture shower down over the surface of the turkey for even coverage. The turkey should be well-coated with salt, though not completely encrusted.

    Warning: You will most likely not need all of the salt, in some cases less than half will be ok depending on the size of your bird and your salt preference.

    Transfer the turkey to a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for 12 to 24 hours. Without rinsing, roast using one of our recipes, omitting any additional salting steps called for in those recipes.

    Dry-brining for more than 24 hours will produce even more juicy and well-seasoned meat. To brine longer than 24 hours, loosely cover turkey with plastic wrap or cheesecloth before refrigerating to prevent excess moisture loss through evaporation. Let rest for up to 3 days.
  8. I'll definitely check that out once I get home. Would it be a bad idea to put my rub on and leave it in the fridge over night? I don't want it to be salty was my only concern
  9. If you brine or if it is already enhanced it is very important to not forget to rinse all the brine off. I forgot to do it once and ruined an entire turkey. It is also a good idea to dry it out really well before you put your rub on. You can just dry with paper towels and leave it in the fridge for several hours uncovered to do this or use a hair dryer or the like. Yes you can put the rub on and let it sit overnight. Just watch the amount of salt you use. If you brined with a full salt brine you might want to cut back some of the salt in your rub. That is kind of why I suggest you use someones tried and true recipe to the letter the first time. It is tough to eyeball the right amount so it is not too salty in the end. squib's recipe looks good to me. Maybe he will share his cooking steps and the rub he uses too. I don't do turkey breasts very often and it has been quite a while since I did my last one but I just wanted to share the few things I have done wrong so you don't make my same mistakes. I will say it won't take long to smoke and get up to temp. I think I did my last one to 158 internal and wrapped it up and rested for a while with the carryover heat getting it to 165 if I remember correctly. 
  10. Yea I learned my lesson on not rinsing a bird to ha. We are actually doing a "healthy" cook-off at work. I figured turkey would still be pretty healthy as long as the sodium is low
  11. Then I guess wrapping in bacon would be out of the question? Hahahaha......

    this one I filleted out and wrapped around a homemade smoked sausage.

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
  12. Well maybe I'll be making one for myself at the same time haha
  13. i have done turkey breasts qutie a few times, the last one was the best! I didn't brine the last one, but I loosen the skin and put a nice rub under with some chopped fresh herbs. Set the smoker at 225 and wait for the apple wood to start smoking. I toke close to 4 hours to get to 157. I pull it out and tent it and the temp rises to 165 after about 30 minutes. Put on platter and slice the juciest turkey breast ever!!! 

  14. Adding bacon to anything can't hurt. . . . . .

    I brined this breast and removed all skin prior to putting the bacon weave on it.  Smoked with ribs for 6 hours and finished in the oven for another hour because I needed it done.  Finished product was very moist and tasted excellent.  Bacon didn't adhere to the breast like I thought it would and a hint of bacon flavor was noticeable.

  15. I gotta give a huge thanks to everyone with the help on this one. I ended up just using 100 percent cranberry juice for my brine over night. I didn't want a salty product is the reasoning behind that. The smoke went perfect and got done the exact time I was hoping for. I ended up taking first in the cook-off so big hats off to everyone that helped out. Thanks
  16. Hey ...Just wanted to say thanks for the brine recipe above, and thanks to all for the info on smoking turkey breasts.  I tried one in my 18.5 WSM this weekend that turned out fantastic!  Super juicy, full of flavor, super tender ...awesome!   Here's what I did:

    1. Using the brine above (looked strong in black pepper ....one of our faves on turkey) and brined a whole bone-in 'all natural' turkey breast for 4 hours and 45 minutes.

    2. When the brining was done, rinsed thoroughly in cold water and dried well with a paper towel, and let it sit for 30 minutes or so to finish drying ...close 'nuf.  Then I sprayed the whole breast, inside and out with olive oil and peppered fairly heavily with medium-grind (sorta rough) black pepper ...nothing else.

    3. Packed half an apple (2 quarters) and half an onion (2 quarters) into the chest cavity.  Let the turkey sit while getting the smoker going.

    4. Smoked with just 2 chunks of wood down deep in the briquettes (1 hickory, 1 apple, just medium sized) and one chunk of apple on top near the center area where I put the lit coals (minion method).

    5. Ran smoker with vents wide open for 30 minutes then closed all bottom vents to 1/3- for the remainder of the smoke.  Average temp in the smoker was around 250 F (ran hot yesterday for some reason ...breezy day).  When the internal temp hit 158 F, I wrapped the turkey in foil tightly and put it back in ....intending to take it out when it hit the 165-170 range ...but goofed ...lost too much time on the computer checking for the 'perfect' strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe ...and ooops, turkey was up to 189 F (!!!!).  I thought it would've been dried out ...but NO!   It was perfect!  I think wrapping it really kept the moisture in and kept it from drying out.  The turkey was AWESOME!

  17. All good advice . :welcome1: to our forum , please stop in to our Roll Call to get a rousing "hello" from our other members.

    You will enjoy this site and be doing some great BBQ in a short while

    Have fun and . . .
  18. I did!  Last November 15th, 2014:  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/172424/hello-from-knik-alaska#post_1270697

    Thanks for making me feel very welcome ...everybody here has!

    (Or were you talkin' to someone else?  )

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  19. Thanks for all the tips, going to give a try next week

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