Dry Turkey Breasts

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by bignick, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. bignick

    bignick Meat Mopper

    Hello, guys and gals.  It's been a while since I've posted.  Actually haven't been smoking as much as I'd like.  I'm about to have a lot of vacation time, so that will change!

    I've been nominated (again) to smoke turkeys for family thanksgiving.  That would be 2 turkeys, one for my side and one for the in laws.  I pulled this off last year, but decided to do a test run today to make sure I remembered what I was doing (since last Thanksgiving was the last time I smoked turkeys).

    Here is the problem:  breasts were dry and the dark meat was still bloody and pink.

    My rig:  side fire box, Brinkmann Smoke'n Pro.  Running about 250-300 with lump and chunks of hickory.  The tricky thing is that I'm smoking 2 birds at 1 time, so one is closer to the firebox and is absorbing most of the heat.  So, I rotate the birds every hour or so.  I have the ass end facing the fire, knowing that the dark meat will take longer to cook.

    I brined these birds using a basic brine overnight.

    I did a search and didn't really come up with anything, but I assume this is a common problem.  Any tips?
  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    One thing I have learned  is you can take a ziplock bag and fill it with ice cubes and place it on the breast about 30 minutes prior to putting it on the smoker. Normally the breast is done first and ends up drying out so what this is intended to do is bring the temp of the breast down lower so that it takes longer to cook and will give you more time to get the rest of the bird done without drying out the breast. That is one thing you can try. Another thought that comes to mind is are you sure that your thermometers are accurate. I just want to make sure you are smoking at the temps that you think you are.

    When you say you are rotating your birds are you just spinning them in place or are you taking the left and right bird and swapping places with them? Do both birds get dry?
  3. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good idea Ross, never thought of the ice bags[​IMG]

    I usually foil the breast after a couple hours to slow down the cooking process.
  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great call Ross- going to try that one myself 
  5. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    You can always inject some EVOO and seasoning or just EVOO into the breasts. That seems to keep em super moist.
  6. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also injecting your brine that you soak them in overnight will help too.  How big of birds are they?
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Awesome idea Ross, I will try that too.
  8. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic

    I have never smoked a turkey, but will be doing so Thursday.

    I have no problem running the dark meat temps high, but want a moist breast.  I chose to separate the pieces and cook them until each one reaches the right temp.  I even bought a couple extra drumsticks, thighs and wings so I can experiment.  Started brining the extra pieces last night.  I will get the whole bird cut up and brined tonight.
  9. bignick

    bignick Meat Mopper

    To expand, I rotated the birds from left to right and I spun the birds 180 degrees once.  I also followed Jeff's tips from his latest newsletter by stuffing the garlic butter (about a pound per bird!) under the skin.  I think I'll try the ice trick as well as injecting some melted butter or EVOO into the breasts.

    One bird was 10 lbs. and the other was 12 lbs.  It seems the 12 lbs. bird was dryer [​IMG]

    As far as temps go, I've calibrated recently, and they are all within 1-2 degrees.  Another thing with my smoker, it can be 50 degrees difference by the firebox to the other end next to the exhaust :(.  A WSM is on my wish list!

    Thanks for the help, any further tips are appreciated.

  10. bignick

    bignick Meat Mopper

    Has anyone had good results with a soaked cheese cloth?
  11. norrell6

    norrell6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member


    Sounds like you need a baffle for your smoker. I use one in my offset smoker and the temp varies maybe 5 degrees from one end to the other. If you don't know what a baffle is, you can look through the modification forums and get some pretty good ideas.

    Good luck,


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