Tender, juicy, smoked turkey that’s perfect for BBQ or sandwiches!
How to smoke a turkey breast on a pellet grill
I’m excited to cover how to smoke a turkey breast on a pellet grill. The meat came out phenomenally flavored, with both the smoke and spice rub flavors permeating the meat.
The Turkey meat came out super tender and easy to break apart, which makes it the perfect sliced meat for sandwiches.
The method for making Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast is straight forward. Thaw the meat, apply the spice rub and let it rest, then smoke it until the meat reaches 160F.
How long does it take to smoke a turkey breast?
Here’s how long to smoke a turkey breast at 225F: 4-5 hours depending on the size of the turkey breast, how thawed it is, and the behavior of your smoker. My smoked turkey breast was 2.75LB and completely thawed before going in.
While 4-5 hours is a good rough estimate, it’s better to smoke by temperature. You should target an internal temperature between 160F and 165F.
Smoked Turkey Rub
Like I mentioned above, the flavor imparted on the turkey in this recipe is incredible. That is in large part thanks to the rub used. The base of the rub is paprika and garlic powder, which is pretty standard for a lot of smoked meats.
A somewhat exotic addition though was the use of Halbi (Aleppo) pepper flakes. These have a somewhat mild heat but very intense flavor. I thought of them as similar to red pepper flakes but with much stronger pepper flavor (not heat.) We found the Halbi at a local spice roastery and fell in love with the flavor. If you don’t have access to Halbi flakes, just use red pepper flakes.
Feel free to tinker with the spice mix, and add things you and your family particularly like. I often add hot mustard powder or cumin to these mixes for instance.
The best wood for Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
Foremost, I’m a firm believer that the type of wood you use isn’t a huge contributor to the quality of your smoke unless you’re an expert and are seeking a high degree of nuance with the smoke flavor.
My top answer then is to use whichever pellets you have around. If you have multiple kinds or are heading to the store, I personally think applewood matches the flavor profile of the turkey well.
When pellet grilling, I find the use of a smoke tube to be far more important than the type of pellet used. I’ve written about smoke tubes in most of my pellet smoke posts because I truly believe they’re an important addition when you want a smokey flavor on a pellet grill. Before using a smoke tube, my chief complaint on the pellet grill was that, while extremely easy to cook with and use, the food lacked the smokey flavor of my previous offset smoker.
Should I worry about moisture when smoking turkey breast?
The turkey breast is not a particularly fatty cut of meat and you may be wondering if drying out while smoking is a big risk. I found that this smoke was short enough that I didn’t have to worry about drying out or having to baste or spray the turkey down during the smoke.
I always try to make sure my water tray has water in it during the smoke. This helps keep the overall humidity of the cooking chamber elevated, and will help prevent meat from drying out. If this cook took longer, I would probably also spray the top of the meat every hour or so.
Slice or pull the smoked turkey?
This smoked turkey breast can be pulled/shredded or sliced thin. I went into the recipe knowing that I wanted to make sandwiches for the week, but wasn’t sure which way would work better.
I ended up testing one end of the Turkey by making a few thin slices. The meat sliced cleanly, and was super easy to bite through and pull apart. I think if I had a meat slicer, it would have made fantastic lunch meat.
That said, I have zero doubts you could turn this into a wonderful pulled turkey. My original plan was to use part of the turkey for chilaquiles, and I still think it would have been a great option.
Other great smoker meat meals
Let’s make Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- 1 Smoker I used a pellet grill
- 1 Turkey Breast Mine was 2.75lb.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ tbsp smokey garlic paprika (or add more regular paprika or chili powder)
- 1 tsp Halabi (Aleppo) pepper flakes Substitute ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Start by working on the rub. Mix all of the dry spices together. Rub down the turkey breast with the olive oil, then evenly pat the spice mix onto the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, up to overnight.
- Next, preheat your smoker to 225F and fill a water tray at the base of the smoker. If you are using a smoke tube, set it up now.
- Smoke the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 160-165F. Refill the water tray as needed. You should expect this to take around 4 to 5 hours.
- After the internal temperature is reached, take the turkey out and wrap it in foil or butcher paper. Let the turkey rest in an off oven or microwave for 20 minutes.
- Slice the turkey into thin slices, and serve on a sandwich or with sides. Enjoy 🙂