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Turkey Breast - Boneless & Skinless

  • Use boneless, skinless turkey breasts.
  • Pat meat dry and apply a favorite dry rub to all sides.
  • Cook at 225-250°F to an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Netted turkey breasts before smoking
Netted turkey breasts before smoking
Smoked boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Smoked boneless, skinless turkey breasts

Boneless, skinless turkey breast tastes great when barbecued and appeals to those watching their diet because it is a healthy, low-fat meat. It's also a good alternative when you don't want to cook a whole turkey.

Here are some pictures I took on October 4, 2007 when I cooked boneless, skinless turkey breast on the Weber Bullet. on any of the pictures to view a larger image.

Prepare The Meat

Fresh, boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Photo 1
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Fresh turkey breast is commonly sold skin-on and bone-in. Ask your butcher to de-bone the breast, remove the skin, and net the meat. The elastic netting will keep the meat in a neat, rounded roast shape during cooking. But don't worry if your butcher can't net the will be fine without it.

The 4 turkey breasts shown in Photo 1 weighed more than 4 pounds each. Smaller ones weighing 2-3 pounds work well, too, and will cook in less time.

Apply The Rub

Turkey breasts rubbed with cinnamon/cumin rub
Photo 2

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and apply your favorite barbecue rub to all sides of the meat.

Let the rubbed meat sit at room temperature while you fire up the cooker.

If you don't have a favorite poultry rub, try this one from my friends Brian DeHamer and Duncan Engel.

Cinnamon/Cumin Rub For Poultry
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup celery salt
1/4 cup paprika
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Select The Smoke Wood

Two chunks of cherry smoke wood
Photo 3

Use 2 chunks of cherry smoke wood. Each chunk should be about the size of your fist. Apple, oak, or another mild fruit wood can be used if cherry is not available.

There is no need to soak the wood or remove the bark before use.

Fire The Cooker

Fire-up the cooker using the Minion Method. Fill the charcoal chamber 1/2 full with unlit Kingsford Charcoal Briquets. Use a Weber chimney starter to light 20-40 briquettes and place them on top of the unlit ones.

Put the water pan in the cooker and fill it with cold tap water to help with temperature control.

Smoke The Turkey

Turkey breasts go into the WSM
Photo 4

Assemble the cooker and put the turkey breasts on the cooking grates, as shown in Photo 4.

Set the 3 bottom vents to 100% open. Open the top vent fully and leave it that way throughout the entire cook.

When the cooker reaches about 225°F, set the 3 bottom vents to 25% open so the cooker settles in at 225-250°F measured at the lid. Adjust the 3 bottom vents as necessary to maintain this temperature range throughout the cooking session.

Cook for 2 hours, then start checking the internal meat temperature using an instant-read thermometer. If you notice that the breasts are cooking unevenly, rotate them by turning the grate 180°. The turkey is done when it registers 160F.

When cooking 4 breasts as shown here, plan on 2-4 hours for breasts weighing 2-3 pounds, or 5-6 hours for breasts weighing 3-4 pounds or more.

Remember, the overall cooking time depends on a variety of factors, including the total amount of meat cooked, the weight and shape of each breast, how cold the meat was before going into the cooker, weather conditions, cooker temperature, etc.

There should be no need to add water to the pan during the cooking session.

Here's how the cooker temperatures and vent settings went during my cook:

Time Lid Temp Meat Temp Vent 1 % Vent 2 % Vent 3 %
2:05pm - - 100 100 100
2:25pm 195 - 100 100 100
2:50pm 230 - 25 25 25
3:13pm 232 - 25 25 25
3:52pm 244 - 10 10 10
4:26pm 233 - 10 10 10
5:13pm 230 150 10 10 10
5:37pm 226 - 25 25 25
6:05pm 235 153 25 25 25
6:40pm 235 155 25 25 25
7:20pm 232 - 25 25 25
7:35pm 232 157 25 25 25
8:05pm 240 - 25 25 25
8:35pm 234 160 25 25 25

The Finished Product

Smoked boneless, skinless turkey breasts
Photo 5
Interior view of smoked turkey breast
Photo 6

When the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, remove it from the cooker, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes before serving. I like to slice across the grain using an electric carving knife.

All these turkey breasts turned out moist, tender, and with good smoke flavor. Unlike beef or pork, turkey breast does not develop a dark smoke ring, but you'll notice a light-colored one about 3/4" wide in Photo 6.

I like to slice the turkey about 1/4" thick, pile it high on a good quality bun or soft French roll, and top with warm barbecue sauce. You can also eat it on a plate with gravy and traditional side dishes.

Any way you slice it, smoked boneless skinless turkey breast tastes good...and it's good for you. Enjoy!

More Turkey Links On TVWB

Updated: 03/11/2017

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