There is not a more juicy and flavorful turkey than The Most Amazing Apple Pecan Smoked Turkey Breast. It is our current favorite for Thanksgiving.
This is hands down, The Most Amazing Apple Pecan Smoked Turkey Breast recipe I’ve ever had. I thought that Instant Pot Turkey was incredible, but man, this one just totally one upped that recipe.
We aren’t lacking for turkey recipes on our site. We love a juicy turkey slice for dinner, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep adding to it. We still love that Fried Turkey from years ago, and we make the Herb Roasted Turkey Breast all year round for a healthy dinner recipe idea that isn’t chicken.
So even if you’re like us and there are other turkey recipes you’ve made before, take a chance and make the most amazing apple pecan smoked turkey breast this Thanksgiving.
Do you remember Thanksgiving when you were a little kid? Even your first Thanksgiving memory? I can’t pinpoint my first memory, they all kind of smear together, but I do remember being very young, reaching my hand up over the table and picking black olives out of a green glass veggie platter. I placed each olive on a finger and I specifically remember my mom saying, Carrian, no more olives or you’re going to be sick.
I think I went back a few more times because somehow I also have a memory of the platter being empty, just a small amount of black juice remaining and my mom giving me a knowing look.
I still love black olives. It doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving dinner without them. Or a turkey. Especially if it’s cooked on a TRAEGER!!
It’s Not Thanksgiving without Turkey!
My brother in law doesn’t love turkey so he would be totally content to have something else entirely, however, even if turkey isn’t your absolute favorite, doesn’t it not seen like Thanksgiving dinner without it? I mean, you need a turkey!!
That doesn’t mean you have to make an entire turkey if you don’t eat the whole thing though. Making a turkey breast is a great way to get in the bird without wasting everything.
The Most Amazing Apple Pecan Smoked Turkey Breast
Alright, let’s get down to how to make The Most Amazing Apple Pecan Smoked Turkey Breast.
Start out by brining your turkey breast. Even though it’s not an entire bird, brining is essential to a tender and flavorful turkey breast.
How to Brine a Turkey
Brining a turkey needs two specific ingredients and then the remaining ingredients vary based upon your own individual recipes.
- Liquid- Your turkey breast (or whole turkey) will sit in a liquid anywhere from 8-24 hours. The kind of liquid does in fact make a difference as they will help to flavor the meat. Brining, as well as marinating is not made to soak into the center of the meat, but to flavor the outside so well that as it cooks that flavor emerges.
- Salt- It’s preferred that you use Kosher salt for brining as it’s a more coarse salt which will help to break down the meat, soak in the liquid for a more juicy meat and finally, the salt helps to flavor the meat more than just a rub later on.
Next up is the rub on the turkey. Do not ever make a turkey without this step as this is where all of those yummy flavors are going to come from. Here’s what you need to do:
Rub for a Turkey
- Spices- You usually see a lot of herbs with turkey, but spices are great to bring out a little extra flavor. In this case, we throw in smoked paprika to really drive home the flavor but also the color with that deep red. Cumin, garlic and even ground mustard bring a balance to the spices that creates a warm, aromatic experience.
- Sugar- Just a stitch of brown sugar like any good BBQ or Smoked recipe adds the tiniest amount of sweetness which really balances the garlic and smokiness.
- Butter- Butter is essential to add a little more juiciness and flavor to the meat. It also helps the spices to stick to the meat.
That’s not all though, you still need to fill a drip pan with liquids that will help to steam the bird as it smokes. Trust us on this one, you do not want to just go with water.
Drip Pan with Juices
Fill a tin pan, we just get ours at the local grocery store, with pineapple juice and water. Even though this is an apple juice brined turkey the pineapple juice adds a really interesting level of flavor to the bird and the gravy.
Apple or orange juice may be used if you can’t find pineapple juice in the can.
Is Smoked Turkey Fully Cooked?
Smoked turkey is fully cooked as long as you have followed the directions and cooked it through.
Can Smoked Turkey be Pink?
A smoked turkey will sometimes have a pink ring around the meat, but that’s from the smoke and flavor, it doesn’t mean that you need to keep cooking the turkey.
In fact, sometimes that pink hue can really penetrate into the meat, so it’s important to recognize if it’s the smoke or raw meat, which do in fact look different.
What Goes with Smoked Turkey
Oh my goodness, let’s talk about sides before we forget. Here are a few of our favorite things to go with smoked turkey.
- Crazy Easy 7 UP Biscuits
- Southern Grape Salad with Pecans
- Southern English Pea Salad
- The Best Baked Beans Recipe
- The Secret to the Best Corn on the Cob
- Easy Green Beans with Bacon
- Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- Candied Pecan Bacon Brussel Sprouts
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Lemon Mandarin Orange Jell-O
What Temperature for Smoked Turkey
Depending on your smoker and how much time you have you will want to adjust the temperature of the Traeger Smoker. We prefer 300 for 3-3 1/2 hours. You could also do 325 for 2 1/2-3 hours, but we much prefer to have a low and slow meat.
Can You Freeze Smoked Turkey?
You can easily freeze smoked turkey, but only keep it in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. If you wish to keep it for 1-2 months, use a Food Saver like Cade and I have.
BEST. INVESTMENT. EVER.
How to Reheat Smoked Turkey
Place turkey in a casserole dish, and cover well with foil. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook only until warm.
You can also use a microwave with paper towels wrapped around the meat to keep it from drying out.
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? These are all favorites:
- Easy Apple Dumplings with Sprite
- Healthy Herb Veggie Dip
- Garlic Honey Mustard Ham
- 5 Minute Reese’s Snack Mix
- The Best Potato Rolls
- Homemade French Silk Pie
- No Bake Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- The Best Prime Rib
For the Smoker
- Pecan Pellets or chips
- Tin Pan
For the Brine
- 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Kosher Salt
- 4 Cups Apple Juice *see note
- 1 Cup Orange Juice
- 32 ounces Chicken Broth
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 6.5 lb Turkey Breast, bone in
For the Turkey Rub
- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Chili Pepper Seasoning
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
- 6 Tablespoons Butter, softened
- 3/4 Cup Pineapple Juice
- 3/4 Cup Water
For the Gravy
- 1-2 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1-2 Tablespoon Water
For the Brine
- In a large pot, add the brine ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Rinse the turkey breast thoroughly.
- Place the turkey in the brine and put the lid on the pot. Refrigerate 10-12 hours or overnight.
For the Smoker
- Remove the turkey from the brine, discarding all liquid and pat the turkey completely dry.
- In a bowl, combine the spice ingredients and stir to mix.
- Add the butter and stir again.
- Rub the mixture all over under and over the skin of the turkey.
- Heat a Traeger Smoker to 300 degrees with pecan pellets or chips.
- Place the pineapple juice and water in a tin pan under the rack in the smoker.
- Put the turkey, breast side down, on the smoker rack and close the lid.
- Smoke for 3 to 3 1/2 hours depending on your smoker.
- Remove the turkey to rest for 20 minutes under tented foil, reserving the drippings in the tin pan.
- Slice the turkey and serve with gravy.
For the Gravy
- Pour the drippings into a Gravy Fat Separator .
- Heat a skillet to medium high heat and pour off the drippings, avoiding too much fat.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and water and as the drippings begin to simmer, whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
- Continue to whisk as the gravy thickens and serve immediately.
You may use apple juice or apple cider. If you don't have either, Place 1 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar in a cup and fill the rest with water.
Serving Size:2 slices
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 1119 Total Fat: 25g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 427mg Sodium: 20164mg Carbohydrates: 67g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 53g Protein: 151g
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