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Apr 8, 2014 08:21 AM

brine & temp for smoked turkey breast

Hey all!

With Passover just around the bend, I'm looking to do something a little lighter this year- a full turkey breast is the first thing that comes to mind.

Now I've smoked turkey breast before. Typically, I brine a full double-breast (i.e.: 10+ lbs) using Ruhlman's ratios, at oh, 325F for however long it takes to get to 160F internal, usually with a fruit wood. Call it 2 hrs, 2 hrs and change.

The results I get are usually pretty good- some of the end pieces are a little dry, but the real problem is the salt level- it's always too salty, almost unpalatably so.

I'm going to go a little lower and slower this time around- say 275F, but what I'm really interested in is the brine. I'm looking for a brine recipe that'll get my big hunk of meat beautifully moist, but not ridiculously salty. If you've got a suggestion, I'm all ears- and if it makes a difference, I'll be smoking on a Big Green Egg.


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  1. Have you considered reducing the amount of salt in your brine?

    5 Replies
    1. re: JayL

      Yesss, I've considered it, but rather than just pluck a saline percentage out of the air, I'm looking for first-hand experience from someone who's done what I'm looking to do so I have a better idea on my end.

      Now that I think of it, I should probably ask my butcher if the breast isn't pre-brined. Dammit.

      1. re: biggreenmatt

        I don't brine poultry with an ingredient statement that lists added salt. Look for a "natural" turkey with no added salt either introduced during the chilling process or injected, like a Butterball. Some raw turkey nutrition labels state over 400 mg sodium for a four ounce portion.

        1. re: biggreenmatt

          Good call. Another possibility would be to cut the brine time. If it's nearly inedible, I'd start with cutting the time in half.

          1. re: biggreenmatt

            Yeah, I understand.

            You also have to understand that I'm the type of person who WOULD pluck a recipe change out of the air & just go for it. But that's me...

          2. I like to brine turkey breast with soy sauce, chopped fresh sage, and honey in the brine.

            Also, smoke with the lightest wood you can find, e.g. fruit wood over hickory or oak. Sugar maple is the absolute best, if you can find it.

            1. Are you using the 5% he usually recommends, or the 10% quick brine? Also, are you weighing your salt and what salt are you using?

              1. ruhlman - clown

                I've followed Alton Brown's brine technique with repeated success