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May 22, 2014 10:43 AM

Boneless turkey breasts in a charcoal grill: How long? What temp?

Determined to make my own cold cuts for weekday lunches. I think I'll start with 2 of those boness turkey breasts (skin on and they come in a sort of net).
My cooker: Portable Kitchen. I'll use lump charcoal and maybe some wood chips.


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  1. I would brine the breasts and cook to 160F internal.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ricepad

      I'm with you on the brine. I'd equilibrium brine for 1-2 days at a .5-1.5% salt concentration (% of the total weight of the meat AND water).

      As far as temp goes, I don't eat a lot of turkey but when I cook my chicken breasts, I cook them to 60C (sous vide), which is 140F. I would definitely cook your turkey breast to 60C (140F), 160F is waaaaaaay too hot.

      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

        160°F may be way too hot, but it's also 5°F below the FDA recomended temperature to be sure you have killed everything in chicken and turkey.
        I'm not saying you have to follow these FDA recomendations, cook to whatever temperature you like, but if I'm invited to your cookout, please cook mine to the FDA minimum. Thanks,

        To the OP, when cooking something thick like this there are so many variables that it's difficult to say how long, it does take a while as you don't want to burn the outside and leave the middle raw. You really have to cook to the internal temperature and keep track of how long it takes on your equipment and your fire (coals), if the breasts are about the same size next time you will know about how long it will take.

          1. re: mikie

            Man, I used to have the links to the FDA pathogen log mortality tables handy, but for the life of me, I can't find it.

            160F internal is the FDA's "magic number" for poultry because at 160F, all pathogens are destroyed in less than a second. At 159F internal, it takes just over a second to destroy internal pathogens. At 155F, it might take several minutes, and so forth. It's conceptually the difference between you or I walking into a blast furnace (instant death) versus a long, slow, agonizing death by desert heat. This is also the science behind safe low-temp techniques like sous vide cooking.

            Turning to the turkey in question, I don't like overcooked, tough meat. I also don't like poisoning myself, either. I think what I'd do is brine the sucker for a day or two and then cook it to about 150F on my smoker. Once 150F gets hit, I'd take the thing out and let it rest at room temp, uncovered. The residual heat should bring it up to about 155F and once it rests for what, 15, 20 minutes or so, any residual baddies should be happily dead, with your lovely turkey nice and juicy.

      2. My concern would be they would get too dry on the outer parts before the center is cooked. Brining will help. You could also poach or sous vide them until almost done and then just char on the outside.

        1. I would use indirect heat and cook to an internal temperature of 170°. I agree about the brine.

          1. Thanks all. Going for indirect, to a temp of about 155. Anyboday got a great brine recipe to share?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Westy

              I use AB's brine, replacing the spices and aromatics with whatever I feel like at the time.


              1. re: Westy

                Consult any of the experts (AB, Ruhlman, one of the BBQ bibles) for proportion. For turkey, I like to add soy sauce, honey, and fresh sage leaves.

                Also, if you ever want to try smoke, sugar maple is terrific with turkey breast: subtle and actually sweet.

              2. The one thing to be wary of is that some of those breasts already have a good bit of salt in them. Check the label before going too crazy with the brine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ted

                  Yes, the pre-brined breasts are terrible tasting in my opinion. If you see any ingredients, salt, sugar, or "added water" get a different brand.