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How to BBQ a Thanksgiving Turkey Breast

We love the flavor of a smoked bird. Plus, it's fun and easy, and cooking the bird on the grill or smoker saves oven space for your favorite sides and pies. This recipe for turkey breast is perfect for smaller holiday gatherings and delivers moist, flavorful meat and skin your guests will fight for.


BBQ Basics

Ingredients

1 6-8 pound turkey breast
1 gallon of drinking water
1/2 c. salt
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, top lopped off to expose the cloves
1 shallot, roughly chopped (optional, but it’s a tasty addition)
Rendered bacon fat or canola oil
1 6oz bottle Head Country Championship Seasoning, High Plains Heat
1 6oz bottle Head Country Championship Seasoning, Original
Apple juice, in a spray bottle
Butter, 1/2 stick, melted
1 20oz bottle Head Country Bar-B-Q sauce, your favorite flavor (we’d recommend Original, Apple Habanero, Chipotle, or Sugar Free for this recipe)
Hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 mins (optional)
Extra baking pan

Cooking Instructions

Don't start this recipe until your turkey breast is fully thawed. Do this according to the instructions on the packaging on your turkey. Thaw in the refrigerator only, never at room temperature. Allow 24 hours of thaw time per every 4-5 pounds of bird.

We're big believers in brining turkey—it ensures every morsel is juicy, tender, and flavorful—so let's start there: if your turkey isn't pre-brined (many of them are—check the packaging on your turkey to see), mix the drinking water and salt in a large baking pan and allow the turkey breast to sit in this solution overnight, flipping at least once. If the turkey was pre-brined, feel free to either skip to the next step, or decrease the amount of salt in your brine by half (1/4 C.).

If you love turkey skin that is shatteringly crisp (we do), allow the turkey to dry on a plate or in a baking pan for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Once you're ready to prep and cook your turkey breast, turn your grill to 325 degrees F. If using a charcoal grill, pile lit coals on both sides of the grill, placing a disposable metal baking pan half filled with water in the middle. Add soaked wood chips, if using, on top of coals.

Trim turkey of any extra skin, wing meat, and/or neck. Rub every surface of the bird with your choice of either rendered bacon fat or canola oil (this layer of fat is called your binder). Using your fingers and/or a spoon, loosen the skin from the breast meat. Mix a Tbsp. of our Original seasoning with a few Tbsp. of your binder and apply it to the turkey breast, under the skin.

Season the turkey breast. We like to use a light layer of our High Plains Heat Seasoning, followed by a slightly heavier layer of our Original Seasoning. Season all surfaces of the turkey breast, ending by resting the turkey on its backbone in a large disposable metal baking pan.

In a large bowl, drizzle chopped onion, halved head of garlic, and shallot with canola oil. Add 2 Tbsp. of our Original seasoning and toss to coat. Stuff breast cavity with this seasoned aromatics mixture.

It's time to take the turkey to the grill. Cook the turkey, spritzing every 45 minutes with apple juice, for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat (not next to the bone) reads 160 degrees F. Start checking the temp after about 90 minutes.

Combine melted butter and 1/2 C. BBQ sauce. Paint the skin of the turkey with this mixture, dipping your basting brush into the turkey cooking liquid and basting the bird with this as well. Close the lid on the grill and allow the saucy glaze to set and the internal temperature of the bird to reach 165 degrees F, about 10-15 more minutes.

To carve the turkey breast, remove each breast from the breast bone and rib cage using a sharp knife and cutting as close to the bone as possible. Slice each breast crosswise, being careful to avoid tearing the skin. Serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy!

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