Simplicity and easy preparation is where it’s at for this pellet grill turkey breast recipe! A dry-brine and a few hours on the smoker will give you a flavorful and moist turkey breast perfect for small holiday gatherings!
This may sound weird, but I think of my first grill like my first car. It wasn’t the trendiest or most expensive, but it worked well and brought joy. The Godmother and I bought our first grill as newlyweds. I was more concerned with being able to make burgers without smells lingering inside our kitchen.
With our entry-level budget, we bought a charcoal grill. You weren’t going to see this thing used by a celebrity chef. But it was perfect for what we wanted to do.
Steaks and burgers? Yes. Smoked turkey? You betcha. Slow-cooked barbecue? Name your style. It may not have been anything fancy, but it was a workhorse.
The years passed, and brought wear and tear on the grill. We had to replace the charcoal and ashtray a couple of times due to rust. The metal was starting to warp. It was becoming more difficult to position the grill grates. Not to mention our moves around the country every few years. Government movers aren’t known for having a gentle touch.
Why did we switch from charcoal to a pellet grill?
2020 happened. And while our family moved, our charcoal grill wasn’t going to survive another trip.
The Godmother saw this as an opportunity to try something new, so she upgraded us to a pellet grill. If we’d had the room, she would have loved to keep both a charcoal and pellet grill. But for our current season in life, the wood pellet grill is wonderful!
Charcoal grills are great because they are simple to use. Light your charcoal, add some more or close the vents to adjust the temperature, and periodically check your meat for doneness. But depending on what you’re making, it can create time management problems.
When barbecuing, I had to check on the coals about every 45 minutes or so to make sure the temperature was stable. If I was too late, I may have to light up a new batch of charcoal. That pushes back mealtime. Charcoal grills are more hands-on.
With a pellet grill, there’s a little more grace. If you start with enough pellets, the grill will keep a stable temperature. It’s easy to adjust to your desired temperature when you need it. Our current grill is even controlled by an app on my phone!
These conveniences mean I can enjoy things I couldn’t before. Things like a freshly home-made smoked turkey on a weekday. Cooked while I’m working away in my home office.
Why smoke a turkey breast?
Turkey is one of my absolute favorite types of meat to smoke. Have you seen my smoked turkey recipe for a charcoal grill? It was 10 years in the making and always a hit!
However, when you’re only cooking for a few people, brining a whole turkey seems excessive; although the leftovers are epic.
A pellet grill smoked turkey breast is a perfect alternative to a whole turkey for a small gathering!
Since the point of making a turkey breast is to go for simple. I chose to dry-brine the turkey breast instead of finding room for a bucket with a traditional brine.
What is dry-brining?
Dry-brining consists of using salt and other seasonings to prepare your meat for cooking. No water or other liquids are needed for preparation.
The primarily salt mixture of seasonings prepares the turkey for crisp skin and moist meat.
The mixture of seasonings can really be left up to your imagination and preference. For us, it is an opportunity to make use of the Godmother’s herb garden.
Having an herb garden is rather convenient. The Godmother keeps about 6 pots with various herbs that live in our backyard. It is the Godmother’s herb garden because she knows how to properly cut the herbs. I trim like a surgeon hopped up on too much caffeine.
Anyway, using the herbs from the garden was a fun way to create a dry brine recipe for the turkey.
A few recipe tips to make the best pellet grill turkey breast…
I brine my whole turkeys overnight prior to smoking, but that is not enough time for dry-brining. You need to plan ahead a bit! A turkey breast will need to dry-brine for 24-48 hours in order to have crispy skin and moist meat after smoking.
Avoid dry-brining for too long (more than three days), as this may cause the skin to turn out rubbery after cooking. You need to allow just enough time for the skin to dry enough that it crisps but not too much.
To smoke your dry-brined turkey on a wood pellet grill, set your grill to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to keep the grill temperature low at first. Otherwise, you will drastically over-cook the outside of the turkey by the time the inside is cooked.
Place your turkey breast on the grill and smoke for three hours. After three hours, increase the grill temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for at least two hours or until the internal meat temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The great thing about preparing turkey breast on a wood pellet grill is the convenience. The amazing flavor goes without saying.
You can start smoking at the start of your lunch break when teleworking and have it ready to eat by dinnertime. And when it comes to holiday meal preparations – Thanksgiving or Christmas – not only does this free up your oven for other dishes, it’s easy to plan!
Just be sure to leave enough time for the dry-brining. Make sure you have enough wood pellets. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy making one phenomenal pellet grill smoked turkey breast with minimal effort and maximum flavor.
- One 6-8 pound turkey breast
- 3 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt
- 2 teaspoons of Dried Thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Greek Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Minced Onion
- Wood Pellet Type: Hickory, Pecan, or Cherry
- In a small bowl, mix all of the dry brine ingredients until uniform.
- Rinse your turkey breast and pat dry with a paper towel sheet. Put the turkey breast in a small, disposable aluminum roasting pan. Place some of the dry brine mix just under the skin where possible, and rub the rest of the dry brine mix around the turkey and inside the cavity.
- Put the turkey breast (in the roasting pan) in the refrigerator and allow the dry brine to do its work for two days.
- Remove the turkey breast from the refrigerator and pre-heat your wood pellet grill to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. After pre-heating, place the turkey breast on the grill and smoke for three hours.
- After three hours of smoking, increase the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grill for at least two hours or until the internal meat temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the turkey breast from the grill and serve.
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