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plate of sliced smoked turkey with rosemary garnish on navy blue napkin.

Smoked Turkey Breast Without Brine

  • Total Time: overnight + 4 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 1x


The most foolproof method for smoking a whole (or half) turkey breast. No brine, tons of flavor! Try this ASAP, trust.


  • 1 turkey breast, 10-12 pounds, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons oil, any kind you cook with


  1. The night before cooking the turkey, place the turkey skin-side up on a large platter or roasting pan – anything fairly secure that will fit in the fridge.
  2. Mix all of the seasonings together (this is a great all-purpose grilling blend, FYI!).
  3. Drizzle the turkey with the oil, and rub the spice blend all over the turkey, using it all up. Place the turkey on the platter (or vessel) UNCOVERED in the fridge overnight.
  4. About 6 hours before you’d like to eat, prepare your smoking setup. Smoke the turkey at a low temperature, 175F-200F for about 4 hours, checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer after 2.5 hours and then every 45 minutes after that.
  5. At this low temperature, plan for about 20 minutes per pound of smoking time. However, be mindful that the size of your turkey, your smoking setup, and how cold your turkey is at the starting point will affect overall cooking time.
  6. The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 165F at the thickest part. Remove the turkey from the smoker and let it rest on a platter for 30 minutes (at least) before slicing and serving.


This recipe works well with a whole turkey or just a breast, like I did here. However, be mindful that turkeys larger than 14 pounds can sometimes be cause for concern when smoking as they sit in a dangerous, bacteria-growing zone longer than is recommended for food safety. If you’d like to cook a whole turkey and need more than 14 pounds of meat, I recommend smoking two smaller turkeys OR cutting the large turkey into smaller pieces for more quick, even cooking and no questionable food safety. If you aren’t into cutting up whole raw turkeys, most meat counters will do it for you.

On timing, I like to start the turkey EARLY in the morning (like, 5am and then back to bed) for a larger bird, especially for a lunchtime meal. The turkey will be fine if it gets done quickly to rest at room temperature, and longer cooking time allows for smoking on a lower temp which results in juicier, more tender turkey. If short on time, the smoker can be turned up to 225-250F.

To portion turkey, plan for 1 pound of turkey per person to include leftovers. A 12 pound turkey can serve 12+, for example.

To thaw a turkey, leave it in the fridge for at least 48 hours. If you forget, leave it on the counter for several hours, then in the fridge overnight with the dry rub on the uncovered turkey.

Smoking: This recipe was tested using a gas smoker – the chimney kind that uses propane and wood chips. It hasn’t been tested with a pellet smoker, big egg-style, or grill-turned-into-smoker. However, the method is the same: keep the temperature as close to 175-200F as you can, let the slow-smoke magic happen, and the bird will be done when the internal temperature reaches 165F.

  • Prep Time: overnight + 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Smoker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: smoked turkey, smoked turkey breast, smoked turkey breast without brine, bbq turkey breast, smoked turkey dry rub