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Bourbon Brined Turkey Breast


This bourbon-brined turkey breast is juicy and buttery, with a golden brown exterior. Smoke-roasting the turkey breast adds a light smoky flavor.

(Note: Do not brine the turkey if it has already been injected with a salt solution prior to sale or is advertised as kosher.)

Hosting a small Thanksgiving gathering? Also try: Herb-Rubbed Smoke-Roasted Turkey Breast.

Or cooking a full-sized turkey? Try this Bourbon- and Maple-Brined Smoke-Roasted Turkey.


Other Smoked Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving: 



Bourbon Brined Turkey Breast

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 8 hours for brining
  • Active Prep: 15 minutes
  • Grill Time: 1 to 1 ½ hours
  • Total Time: 9 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Method: Smoke-roasting / indirect grilling
  • Equipment: Can be cooked on a charcoal or gas grill. You’ll also need: hardwood chunks or chips (if using the latter, soak for 30 minutes in water, then drain)


  • 1 3-pound rolled netted boneless turkey breast

For the Brine:

  • ¼ cup kosher salt (kosher or sea)
  • ½ teaspoon Prague powder #1 (pink curing salt)
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 1 quart ice water

For Basting:

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) salted butter, melted

Recipe Steps

1: Thaw the turkey breast in the refrigerator if needed. Place it in a jumbo heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.

2: Make the brine: Place the salt, Prague powder (if using), bourbon, maple syrup, and 1 quart hot water in a large pot and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the salt crystals. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ice water. Let cool to room temperature, then pour the brine into the resealable plastic bag over the turkey breast.

3: Place the bag with the turkey in a large bowl in the refrigerator and let brine for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning the bag several times so the breast brines evenly.

4: Drain the turkey breast, discarding the brine, and blot dry on all sides with paper towels. Place it on a wire rack over a baking dish and let it air dry in the refrigerator until it feels tacky, 1 to 2 hours.

5: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350 degrees). Brush or scrape the grate clean and oil well.

6: Place the breast in the center of the grill, skin side up (if it has a skin side). Brush once with melted butter. Add the wood chunks or chips to the coals (or place in the smoker box of your gas grill). Close the grill lid.

7: Smoke-roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown and the turkey is cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, replenishing the coals as needed if using charcoal—see page 000. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Baste the breast with melted butter every 20 minutes. Baste one final time after the breast comes off the grill. Note: If the skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the breast with foil. Do not wrap it tightly or you’ll make the skin soggy.

8: Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board or platter. Cut off the net with scissors. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving. It’s delectable hot or cold.