Smoking a turkey breast can be much easier than smoking a whole turkey.
Not only are they smaller and easier to handle, but their lighter weight means that they take much less time to cook.
Read on to find out about the average turkey breast weight and how long to expect the meat to cook on the smoker.
Turkey Breast Weight
Turkey’s breast weight can depend on a variety of factors. Some of these include the overall size of the bird and whether the breasts are sold bone-in or boneless.
You should always know the weight of the turkey you are cooking to determine the appropriate cooking time required.
Standard Size Of Turkey Breast
On average, you can generally expect turkey breasts to weigh between 4 to 8 pounds, although there may be larger ones available in the supermarket.
Smaller turkey breasts are uncommon in grocery stores but may be found at farmer’s markets.
Is Bigger Better?
Many people think that the bigger the bird, the more meat there will be.
However, this is not always the case as a large bird may have a lot of bone and skin, so it is recommended to weigh it before buying.
How Much Turkey Breast Per Person?
Estimated serving sizes per person depend on a variety of factors such as whether you are buying bone-in or boneless poultry, the ages and eating habits of your guests, and the time and nature of the gathering.
However, a general guideline to follow is half a pound of uncooked turkey breast per person. You may have two round up with bone-in turkey breast to 1 pound per person to ensure there is enough to feed your guests
This is because the bone will take up some of the weight, leading to less meat left.
You may want to add an extra half pound for particularly hungry people. You’ll be better off overestimating and having leftovers than risking your guests going hungry!
Boneless Or Bone-In Turkey Breast?
Boneless cuts are undeniably easier to deal with compared to their bone-in counterparts. These cuts also cook more quickly, which means dinner can be served much sooner.
On the other hand, bones may contribute a level of flavor and moisture to the finished product that boneless cuts do not.
Hence, buying boneless or bone-in turkey breasts boils down to personal preference.
Ideal Temperature To Cook Turkey Breasts
It is better to aim for a low target temperature as the white meat of the breast can dry out quickly.
Hence, it is recommended to smoke turkey breast at 275°F which will allow the meat to cook at a rate of 20 to 25 minutes per pound.
You can speed things up by setting the temperature of your smoker slightly higher to 325°F. However, it is important to keep that in mind your turkey will not be able to absorb much smoke flavor considering the shorter cooking time.
Ideal Internal Temperature Of Turkey Breasts
Turkey breasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° to be considered safe to eat.
At this temperature, any dangerous bacteria that can cause food poisoning will be eradicated.
Try not to cook past the point of 165° as the turkey breast will run the risk of turning chalky and dry.
How To Measure The Internal Temp Of Turkey Breasts
You can gauge the internal temperature of the turkey breast by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.
However, be sure not to touch the bone or the readout may be inaccurate.
Elevate For Even Cooking
You should roast turkey breast on a sheet pan topped with a sturdy wire rack. This will allow the meat to lay flat and elevated for even cooking.
Alternatively, you can use a traditional roasting rack set in a large roasting pan.
To Stuff or Not To Stuff?
It is not recommended to stuff turkey when putting it in the smoker.
This is because stuffing the bird will increase the cooking time, which makes it longer for dinner to be served.
The smoke flavor may also make the stuffing taste weird as bread crumbs may not work well with the same flavors as meat.
Furthermore, the stuffing may not be cooked properly to a temperature of 165°F in the center due to the low smoking temperature.
Hence, most experts recommend cooking the stuffing separately to ensure it is cooked well and safe to eat.
Can It Be Cooked Frozen?
It is safe to cook a frozen turkey breast without thawing.
However, defrosting the bird before cooking will lower your cooking time and enhance the quality of the cooked meat.
How Long To Thaw?
Ideally, the USDA recommends the refrigerator thaw method which entails thawing turkey breast for 24 hours for every five pounds.
This will give the frozen meat enough time to defrost completely before the cooking time.
How Long To Cook Turkey Breast?
The time taken to cook turkey breast will depend on the breast size, whether or not it’s stuffed and if it’s thawed.
An unstuffed turkey breast may usually take about one and a half to three and a half hours to cook.
On the other hand, a stuffed bird may take two and a half to three and a half hours in the oven.
You should keep in mind a frozen turkey breast may prolong your cook time by 50 percent.
In conclusion, turkey breast is a great alternative to smoking a whole turkey as it is much easier to handle and yields much less waste after the cooking process.
By weighing out your turkey breasts and following the right cooking times and methods, you are sure to cook up delicious turkey breasts for your next family feast!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with the boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
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