Smoked Turkey Breast

Gus Gallagher
Gus Gallagher

With Christmas less than a week away we have been planning menus and refining techniques – ham was sorted last week so now it’s time to talk turkey.

Given the variety of proteins we are looking to serve, a whole bird is simply not needed, so I recommended smoked turkey breast. With porchetta and ham already on the menu this leaner cut will provide some contrast to our festive feast.

Turkey breasts vary in size but around 2kg, here in Australia (the US has outrageously big turkeys!)

For Christmas I want everything perfect so I trimmed off some excess dangly bits to get it neat for slices. I also took the skin off as due to the lower temp smoking approaching we are taking the skin will just end up rubbery.

Being such a lean protein (I bet your mouth got dry just reading turkey breast) we need to help it out a little bit so we are going to dry brine it.

The topic of brining is a long one, so the cliffnotes summary for this article: it helps retain moisture within meat through denaturing the proteins, causing them to unwind and effectively trap more moisture within.

You can dry brine with just the addition of salt to the turkey, however I chose to use Lanes Signature rub, which has quite a high salt content, so I could have some other flavours making friends with the exterior of the turkey breast and adding some colour. This is also the same reason I chose not to wet brine (submersing the protein in salt water).


24-48 hours prior: Apply dry rub / dry brine to turkey breast. Use a rub that is a bit more salt dominant, Lanes Signature or Hardcore Carnivore Red would both work.

Set your smoker to ~250f / 120c (some variance is fine, relax) and put the turkey on.
Smoking wood: I used apple as I had it handy – a fruit wood such as apple, plum, cherry would all be great options.

Wrapping: Once the bark has set and is starting to get a bit of colour, put a couple of knobs of butter on the turkey breast and wrap it in foil, returning it to the smoker.

Target temperature: Personally I like to take turkey breast to 150-155f internal (65-68c) as at this point the meat is completely white and cooked through. Official guidelines are 165f / 73c.

Slice against the grain for extra tenderness.

Time: I plan for around 3 hours and it should be done in less, but if it’s Christmas and your reputation is on the line give yourself extra leeway!

What’s going on your barbecue this Christmas?