This Smoked Turkey Breast recipe is perfect for smaller holiday gatherings! It’s slathered in a flavorful spice rub, basted in melted butter, maple syrup, and honey, and smoked until melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Sometimes I think back to when I thought poultry was boring. Given my options, pork, beef, or seafood would win every time. I thought chicken and turkey were bland and dry.
But then I got myself a smoker and the heavens opened up and angels sang and my life changed for the better. Now you’ll be hard-pressed to find a time that I’m not excited to whip up smoked chicken or smoked turkey for dinner. You basically can’t tear me away from the poultry section at the grocery store.
Trust me, this smoked turkey breast recipe will change your life the same way it did mine! Not only will it transform how you feel about turkey, but it makes a great alternative to whole smoked turkey for the holidays when you have fewer people to serve!
No smoker? Check out my quick pressure cooker turkey breast recipe instead!
What you need to make this recipe
- Turkey Breast – I use 4 five-pound turkey breasts for this recipe which will most likely serve anywhere from 4-5 people depending on portion sizes.
- Cajun Mustard and Olive Oil – the acidity in mustard helps break down the meat for a more tender texture.
- Brown Sugar and Seasonings: you’ll use a simple blend of brown sugar mixed with garlic salt, celery salt, paprika, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper. It’s the perfect blend of sweet, smoky, and spicy.
- Butter, Maple Syrup, and Honey – this makes up a deliciously sweet basting liquid to give the turkey more flavor and keep it moist during the smoking process.
How to smoke turkey breast
You just need 15 minutes of prep to make the perfect smoked turkey breast!
The day before smoking:
Combine mustard and olive oil and rub the mixture all over the turkey breast. In another small bowl, combine all of the spices then rub them all over the turkey. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
The day of smoking:
Soak the chips and prep the smoker for 225ºF. Prep a drip pan and water tray if needed, then place the turkey in the smoker and add wood chips. Smoke for 1½ hours, refresh chips if needed, then smoke for another hour.
In a saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup, and honey until the butter is melted. Use that mixture to baste the turkey, then continue to cook. After 15 minutes, baste again and cook until the turkey is 165-170ºF.
Remove from the smoker, cover with foil, and rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
How long does it take to smoke turkey breast?
This depends on the size of the breasts you’re using, but I usually plan on about 30 minutes per pound. The five-pound turkey breasts I used in this recipe took about 2½ hours to cook all the way through.
As always, the best way to tell if meat is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. The minimum internal temperature of turkey should be 165-170ºF.
Do you have to brine turkey breast before smoking?
Yes, but not in the traditional way. For this recipe, we’re skipping the wet brine and using a dry brine of mustard, oil, sugar, and seasonings.
Just coat the turkey breast in that mixture the night before and let it sit in the fridge and soak in all that flavor!
Do you need to baste turkey breast?
I recommend it. Basting the turkey in honey, maple syrup, and butter not only adds flavor but also ensures that the meat remains moist as it cooks.
Since turkey is a lean meat, it’s more prone to drying out. Basting reduces the risk of that happening!
This smoked turkey breast is perfect next to all of the classic holiday sides. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Slow Cooker Loaded Creamed Corn
- Home-Style Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans
- Slow Cooker Rum Soaked Fig Cranberry Sauce
- Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
How to store
Leftover turkey breast will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave in small portions or warm in the oven at 300ºF with a splash of broth to moisten.
Looking for ways to use up your leftovers? Check out my classic hot brown or my leftover smoked turkey sandwich recipe.
If you’ve tried my Smoked Turkey Breast recipe or any other recipe on GirlCarnivore.com please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below. I get inspired by your feedback and comments! You can also FOLLOW ME on Instagram @girlcarnivore as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
Smoked Turkey Breast
- 4-5 lb turkey breast
- 2 teaspoon cajun mustard
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoon maple syrup use the good stuff
- 1 tablespoon honey
- The day before smoking, combine the mustard and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub the turkey breast all over with the mixture.
- In another small bowl combine the spices. Rub the turkey breast heavily with rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the flavors mingle in the fridge over night.
- Soak chips and prep smoker according to manufacturers directions for a heat of 225 degrees F.
- Prep your drip pan and water tray if needed. Place turkey in smoker and add wood chips.
- Smoke for 1 ½ hours and refresh chips as needed. Smoke for another hour.
- Make the basting liquid. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, and honey over low heat until butter is just melted. Stir to combine.
- Baste the turkey with the maple mixture. Close smoker and in 15 minutes baste again.
- Once the turkey temps at 165-170, remove from smoker, cover with foil, and rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
- Slice and serve.