Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoking a turkey breast results in smoky, juicy meat with a deeply golden skin. Applying the lemon-oregano rub under and on top of the skin ensures that the flavors permeate throughout the meat. The meat is very juicy when it comes out of the smoker, so make sure to allow it to rest for the full 20 minutes before carving and serving it, so the juices have a chance to redistribute.

Smoked Turkey Bread over Spring Salad
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs 20 mins


  • 1 (6- to 7-pound) fresh or thawed frozen bone-in, skin-on turkey breast

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 4 garlic cloves, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 Tbsp. grated)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

  • 3 to 4 large chunks cherry wood, for smoking


  1. Place turkey, breast-side down, on a work surface. Using kitchen shears or a sharp chef's knife and beginning at the tail end, cut along each side of backbone. Remove backbone from turkey; reserve backbone for stock or discard. Turn turkey breast-side up. Using the heel of your hand, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks and turkey breast flattens slightly. Trim any excess fat and skin around neck, and trim any exposed ribs sticking out from sides of breast.

  2. Starting at neck end, loosen and lift skin from breast by inserting fingers and gently pushing between skin and meat. (Do not detach skin completely from breast) Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Rub half of oil mixture under skin; smooth skin over breast, and rub remaining half of oil mixture over skin and cavity. Transfer turkey to a large rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Remove turkey from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour while preparing smoker.

  3. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker according to manufacturer's instructions. Place wood chunks on coals. Maintain internal temperature at 225°F to 250°F for 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Smoke turkey breast, covered with smoker lid, until a thermometer inserted into center of turkey breast registers 155°F, about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes. Remove turkey breast from smoker and let rest at room temperature, covered, for 20 minutes. (Internal temperature will continue to rise as turkey rests, reaching a minimum internal temperature of 165°F) Carefully carve turkey, slicing each breast crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices, and arrange on a large platter; serve immediately.

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