Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe

April 23, 2018

Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast is all the goodness of a whole bird scaled down to a non-holiday portion. Perfect for a weeknight cookout. This is a delicious, tender and of course juicy recipe that you will cook again and again.

Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast

Smoked Turkey Breast

This marinated smoked turkey breast recipe has been on my mind for quite some time. I’ve done whole turkeys, turkey breasts, turkey legs, you name it,  but I had yet to conquer that “smoked turkey breast” that I always order from my favorite BBQ joint. It is tender and juicy with the perfect amount of smoke from the BBQ. A few weeks ago at Duerden’s Appliance, the owner, Sheri, brought out a marinated turkey breast and we threw it out on a propane grill. The flavor was outstanding, the meat was juicy and tender. But it was missing that sultry smoked flavor. The ideas were all there in my head, so I started formulating a plan to smoke two turkey breasts on my new Coyote Outdoors Asado Smoker. I was going to try to master two different recipes at once, both the BBQ style smoked turkey using my signature Sweet Rub and Sheri’s marinated turkey (she calls it Manti Turkey after a small town in Utah surrounded by turkey farms that supposedly cultivated the marinade recipe).

smoked turkey breast

How to Smoke a Turkey Breast

To smoke two different turkey breasts at once, I needed plenty of grill space. I feel like my Coyote had plenty of room. I started to cook with indirect heat for the smoking period at 225 for about 2 hours, until my internal temperature read 150 degrees. Now the fun part, I get to crank the heat up and sear the exterior of my turkey at the end to caramelize the outside. Using the Coyote, I was able to smoke at a perfect 225 degrees and when I was ready to sear, bring up the temperature in the grill to over 600 degrees within a minute or two. IMPRESSED.

how to smoke a turkey breast

A Few Words About My Coyote Grill

For those of you unfamiliar with this style of grill (like I was) let me explain a little bit about the grill and my method for starting to grill for smoking and also high heat searing. I used both methods during the same cook for this recipe. These grills are essentially large ceramic ovens (and they are super heavy so assemble with a buddy). This style of cooking has been around for centuries, but the modern shape and manufacturing make them so much more versatile for backyard use.

To start my fire for smoking, I like to place a layer of wood chunks on the bottom by the charcoal plate and then follow with a large layer of hardwood lump charcoal. The more charcoal you add, the longer your fire will last. I used about a half of a 9 lb bag of charcoal and it lasted through an entire 9 hour cook for some pulled pork. You could probably get close to 20 hours out of one bag of charcoal if you are maintaining the temperature pretty low.

Coyote set up

What Wood to Use for Smoked Turkey Breast

Once you’ve got a nice batch of coals lit, throw on another layer of the wood chunks or even soaked wood chips. Since your charcoal will burn mostly in the center of your grill, stack your wood as close to the middle as possible to get the most smoke. For this batch of turkey breasts, I actually did a mixture of pecan chunks and apple chips. The jury is out on which gave off the most smoke, but for long cooks I will likely stick to chunks from here on out (I also hate the word chunk but again…. applicable).

Watch your fire at this point. You want the coals to burn down to a point where they are giving off a thin, wispy blue smoke (not a thick white billowing smoke) but you don’t want the fire to get too hot. Once your grill is to the desired temperature, close the lid and set the vents. Air flow = higher temperatures. If your vents are closed tighter, your grill temp will be lower. More open vents bring the temperature up.

smoked turkey breast recipe

How Long to Smoke a Turkey Breast

After the 2 hour smoking process for these turkey breasts (internal temperature at 150 degrees), I removed the grill grates and kept the lid and vents wide open. Within a few minutes, my temperature was up over 600 degrees. I put the grates back on the plate and finished off the turkey breasts for about 3-4 minutes per side. When the turkey was resting, we threw on some asparagus tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice/zest. When I was done using the grill, I closed the lid and all the vents to choke out the fire and preserve any unused charcoal for the next cook. Below is the recipe for the marinated smoked turkey breast. If you’d like a more traditional BBQ smoked turkey breast, click through to get the recipe for my Sweet Rub and follow the same grilling method outlined below. Hope you enjoy!

Marinated and Smoked turkey breasts

Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe

marinated smoked turkey breast
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Marinating Time8 hrs
Total Time14 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 5 lb boneless skinless turkey breast
  • 2 cups lemon lime soda
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon creamy horseradish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic minced


  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a gallon zip top bag. Place the turkey breasts in the marinade and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate the marinating turkey for at least 8 hours, and no more than 24 hours.
  • Prepare your asado smoker for indirect cooking at 225 degrees. Light the charcoal and allow to heat through and burn down slightly. Add the wood chunks onto the burning charcoal, close the lid and adjust the vents on the top and bottom until both are slightly open and the temperature of the grill is holding around 225. The smoke coming out of the top vent should be thin and slightly blue.
  • Open the lid slowly and place the heat plate over the charcoal. Pour the marinade from the turkey into an aluminum pan and set the pan on the heat plate. Set the grill grates in place on top of the water pan and the put the turkey breast on the grill grates. Close the lid and smoke at 225 degrees for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reads 150 degrees (whichever happens first.)
  • Using tongs or high heat gloves, remove the grill grates (with the turkey breast still on them) and set aside. Remove the water pan with the turkey marinade.Set the turkey in the marinade while adjusting the grill temperature.
  • Open the bottom vent all of the way and leave the lid wide open. The extra oxygen should ignite the hot charcoal and the temperature will start to rise. Let the temperature come up to between 600 and 700 degrees. Return the grill grates and allow them to preheat for a minute or two.
  • Place the turkey breast on the hot grates and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until the exterior is nice and caramelized and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Remove the turkey to a plate and cover with foil. The carry-over heat will continue to cook the turkey for a few minutes while it rests.
  • Close all of the vents and the lid on the grill to kill the fire.
  • Thinly slice the turkey breasts and serve.
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20 thoughts on “Marinated Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe

  1. No wood type is mentioned. Not sure what types you have tried yet; am assuming Apple or Cherry; but I’d love to know which one you tried paired best with this recipe.

  2. PS – to clarify, I did see that you tried pecan and apple mix, but was wondering if any experimenting with the wood species was tried and if so what species best suited the marinade.

  3. I am having a hard time finding a boneless skinless turkey breast. Would this method still work if I use a bone in breast and remove the skin?

  4. This recipe worked very well. I did a “Thanksgiving Trial Run” last month using this and another marinade. I used a whole turkey that I skinned and removed the bones. I also substituted ginger ale in for the lemon lime and marinated for 8 hours. Finally I used Mesquite. The turkey was moist inside and firm outside. But the mesquite was not a wise choice. Doing 20 pounds of turkey for Thanksgiving following this marinade but per my guests request, extra garlic. Apple chunks for sure! Can’t wait to the big day. 10 Stars if I could. Thanks so much

  5. Good Morning, When you give mention to a more traditional smoked Turkey breast, using instead your sweet rub, does this exempt the brining step?
    This could work with a bone in breast too, just for a longer smoking time? Thank you for your time. K

    1. Exactly right. It would work for the bone-in breast. It may take longer to cook just keep an eye on the temperature of the turkey!

  6. Just practiced this for my upcoming Thanksgiving Day cook for the family. I followed the recipe exactly.
    The result: Top Notch! The trial run received several thumbs up from the wife and kids.
    Great recipe.

    Now onto the rest of the family…

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