This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to smoke a turkey breast in an electric smoker. It explains the benefits of smoking with an electric smoker, the steps for preparing the turkey breast, the recommended smoked turkey temperature, some tips for smoking the turkey breast, some recommended side dishes for smoked turkey breast, and some tips for storing and reheating leftovers.
With this information, you can now easily smoke a succulent and flavorful turkey breast in an electric smoker.
These are some basic steps to smoke a turkey breast in an electric smoker:
- Thaw the Turkey Breast
- Prepare the Marinade
- Generously Season the Turkey Breast
- Pre-smoke the Turkey Breast
- Smoke the Turkey Breast
In the rest of the blog, I will take you through the ins and outs of smokin’ up a perfectly juicy and delicious turkey breast in no time. So, grab your favorite cold beverage, sit back and let’s get smokin’!
What Are the Benefits of Smoking Turkey with an Electric Smoker?
Smoking turkey is a popular cooking method that infuses rich flavors into the meat, creating a delicious and succulent dish. While traditional charcoal or wood smokers are commonly used, electric smokers have gained popularity due to their convenience and ease of use.
The benefits of smoking Turkey Breast with an electric smoker are listed below.
- Consistent temperature control
- Easy ignition and hassle-free operation
- Set-it-and-forget-it convenience
- Smoke production without the need for constant monitoring
- Less charcoal or wood consumption
- Reduced risk of flare-ups and excessive smoke
- Versatile cooking options, including cold smoking
- Precise temperature adjustments for optimal cooking
- Suitable for indoor or limited outdoor spaces
- Minimal hands-on attention required
What Are the Steps for Preparing the Turkey Breast?
Before you dive in, let’s go over a few things you’ll need:
- A turkey breast (A boneless turkey breast is ideal for smoking, as it will cook evenly and be easy to carve. But you can choose as per your preference.)
- Your trusty electric smoker
- Wood chips (I love apple or cherry)
- A meat thermometer
- Some aluminum foil
- A basting brush
- Your favorite seasonings and spices
Note: You may also choose to soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes before using them to add extra moisture and flavor to the smoke.
Once everything is ready, it’s time to thaw the turkey breast.
Step 1: Thaw the Turkey Breast
According to the USDA, Turkey breast can be safely thawed in the refrigerator, cold water, or a microwave oven.
When thawing in the refrigerator, allow one day for each 4 – 5 pounds of weight.
When thawing in cold water, allow 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound.
When thawing in a microwave oven, allow 6 minutes per pound and rotate or flip the turkey during the thawing process.
Once thawed, the turkey should be cooked immediately.
Step 2: Prepare the Marinade
To prepare a flavorful marinade for turkey, gather the following ingredients:
- garlic powder,
- onion granules,
- black pepper,
- brown sugar (optional),
- soy sauce,
- olive oil, and
- apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
These ingredients work together to enhance the taste of the turkey.
To create the marinade, measure out each ingredient based on your taste and combine them in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined. This blended mixture can then be applied to the turkey.
Rub the entire turkey with the marinade, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. After marinating, cover the turkey with foil and refrigerate it for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably up to 24 hours.
For optimal results, it is recommended to marinate the turkey for at least 4 to 12 hours. However, for the best outcome, a marination period of 24 hours is ideal, while not exceeding 48 hours.
This extended marination period allows the flavors to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more delicious and succulent turkey.
By following these steps, you can prepare a delectable marinade for turkey that will infuse the meat with rich flavors and create a memorable dining experience.
Step 3: Generously Season the Turkey Breast
Seasoning turkey involves adding herbs, spices, oils, and acids to enhance flavor and tenderness.
Marination is a popular method of seasoning turkey, with recipes often including all the necessary ingredients for flavor.
Some recipes may call for additional seasoning after marination, such as a dry rub or sprinkled herbs and spices.
Whether to season a turkey after marination depends on the specific recipe and desired flavor profile.
Step 4: Pre-smoke the Turkey Breast
Pre-smoking a turkey breast in an electric smoker is a great way to add flavor and tenderness to the meat. The process involves exposing the turkey breast to smoke before cooking it at higher temperatures.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set up your electric smoker. Make sure it is clean and functioning properly. Fill the smoker’s wood chip tray with your preferred wood chips, such as hickory, apple, or mesquite.
Preheat the smoker to a low temperature, around 225°F (107°C).
Place the turkey breast directly on the smoker’s cooking grate. You can also use a roasting rack or aluminum foil to prevent the turkey from sticking to the grates.
Position a drip pan beneath the turkey to catch any drippings.
Once the smoker is preheated and producing smoke, insert the turkey breast. Let it smoke at this low temperature for about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the breast.
This initial smoking process will infuse the turkey with smoky flavors.
Step 5: Smoke the Turkey Breast
After pre-smoking, increase the temperature of the electric smoker to around 325°F (163°C) to finish cooking the turkey breast. You can adjust the temperature based on your smoker’s capabilities and the desired cooking time.
Continue smoking the turkey breast until it reaches the desired internal temperature. The recommended internal temperature for cooked turkey breast is 165°F (74°C).
Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature and ensure it is safe to eat.
Once the turkey breast reaches the target temperature, remove it from the electric smoker and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to become tender.
Carve the turkey breast and serve it as desired.
What Is the Recommended Smoked Turkey Temperature?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that smoked turkey reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (F). This temperature should be measured in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh using a food thermometer.
For turkey breasts, the same temperature should be measured in the thickest part of the breast. All previously cooked side dishes should also be reheated to 165 degrees F.
What Are Some Tips for Smoking the Turkey Breast?
Smoking turkey breast can result in a delicious and succulent meal. Here are some essential tips to ensure a successful smoking experience:
Choose a Good Quality Smoker
Invest in a reliable smoker that maintains consistent temperature and provides adequate ventilation for optimal smoke circulation.
Place the Smoker in a Safe Area
Position the smoker in an open and well-ventilated space away from flammable objects or structures to ensure safety during the smoking process.
Choose the Right Wood Chips/Chunks
Select the appropriate wood chips or chunks that complement the turkey’s flavor. Popular options include apple, hickory, or mesquite, which add distinct smoky notes to the meat.
Use a Meat Thermometer
To achieve a perfectly cooked turkey breast, employ a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. Aim for a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for poultry like turkey.
Be Wary of Fat Dropping into the Smoker
Fat dripping onto the smoker’s heat source can cause flare-ups and affect the flavor of the turkey. Consider using a drip pan or foil to prevent excessive fat from reaching the heat source.
By following these tips, you can enhance the flavor and ensure a well-cooked smoked turkey breast that will impress your guests.
What Are Some Recommended Side Dishes for Smoked Turkey Breast?
Some recommended side dishes for smoked turkey breast are listed below.
- Roasted vegetables (e.g., carrots, Brussels sprouts, or sweet potatoes)
- Green bean casserole
- Cornbread stuffing
- Cranberry sauce
- Garlic mashed potatoes
- Grilled asparagus
- Corn on the cob
- Creamed spinach
- Baked beans
What Are Some Tips for Storing and Reheating Leftovers?
Leftover smoked turkey breast can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.
When reheating, the best method is to cut the turkey into smaller pieces and place them in a single layer in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Cover the turkey with broth and dot with butter.
Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Uncover and serve immediately.