Delicious, tender grilled turkey breast is first brined in a bath of earthy aromatics before it’s massaged with an herbaceous compound butter and grilled to juicy perfection. This method gives you an unbelievable star of an entrée for your holiday dinner, keeping your oven free for all your supporting dishes.
What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Bone-in turkey breasts are fantastic options for holiday dinners. If you don’t feel like roasting a whole turkey, or don’t need that much food, turkey breasts are typically faster to cook and yield much less meat. They’re also great if you’re feeding a large group and want to be sure you’ve got enough turkey to go around – just cook a smaller bone-in turkey breast in addition to a whole turkey and you’ve got everyone covered!
- A grilled turkey breast in particular is a great way to switch things up a little. Sure, you can roast it just like you would a more traditional Thanksgiving turkey. The grill is nice, though, since it gives the turkey this incredible smokiness. And when it comes to texture? Oh, man. The meat is unbelievably tender and juice, while the skin gets wonderfully crispy. Oh, and – getting the bird out of the house also frees up your oven so you can bake your sides or your desserts earlier.
- For ease, your compound butter should be at room temperature, but not so soft that it’s almost liquidy. Keep that in mind if your holiday kitchen feels like the surface of the sun! It’s much easier to massage the butter into the turkey if it’s pliable but still has some structure.
- Try to get as much of the butter mixture as possible under the skin, without completely breaking the skin membrane. You can use a finger to gently make a few strategic pockets and fill those with butter, but avoid peeling the skin off entirely.
- We’re using both butter and oil in the compound butter mixture – don’t let that put you off! I know some people may see that and think it’s unnecessary, but I promise you, that tablespoon of olive oil has an important job! Butter can burn at high temperatures – y’know, like the temperature inside a grill – but the olive oil tempers it a little and prevents it from burning. Trust me, you don’t want any part of your grilled turkey breast to burn.
More Turkey Recipes You’ll Love
- Turkey Spaghetti
- Turkey Melt with Cheddar, Spinach, and Bacon
- Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast
- Turkey Stuffed Peppers
- Turkey Casserole
For the Turkey Brine
- 9 cups cold water divided, plus more if needed
- ½ cup salt
- ¼ packed cup brown sugar see Notes
- ice cubes as needed
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 3-4 fresh sage leaves
- 1 medium lemon halved
- 1 medium orange halved
For the Grilled Turkey Breast
- 1 4-7 pound bone-in turkey breast see Notes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon high-quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped poultry herb blend store-bought or make your own (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Small saucepan
- Wooden spoon or whisk
- large food-safe container with lid or plastic wrap to cover
- Cutting board
- Paper towels
- 2 small bowls
- Fork or silicone spatula
- Grill see Notes
- Basting brush
- Internal meat thermometer
- Aluminum foil
- Sharp knife
To Brine Turkey Breast
- Heat small saucepan over medium-high heat. When saucepan is warm, add 3 cups cold water. Stir in ½ cup salt and packed ¼ cup brown sugar. Bring mixture to gentle boil and continue stirring until salt and sugar are completely dissolved, then remove saucepan from heat.
- Add 6 cups cold water to large container. Depending on size of container, add more water as needed to ensure turkey breast will be fully submerged. Stir in salt & sugar mixture until well incorporated.
- Add ice cubes as needed to lower water temperature – water must be cooler than room temperature when turkey is added. Gently stir in whole peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage. Squeeze juice from one lemon half into container, then squeeze juice from one orange half into container. Add remaining lemon half and remaining orange half, then stir to incorporate liquids.
- Place turkey breast in water bath, making sure turkey is fully submerged. Cover container with lid or plastic wrap and place container in refrigerator. Let turkey breast brine at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours.
To Grill Turkey Breast
- When ready to grill turkey, preheat grill to medium-high, approximately 375° to 400° Fahrenheit. Remove container from fridge and discard brine mixture. Rinse turkey breast well under cold running water, then place on cutting board or plate. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and set aside.
- Add butter, olive oil, herb blend, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper to small bowl. Stir ingredients together until fully incorporated. Transfer 1 tablespoon of compound butter to separate small bowl and set aside.
- Using hands, gently massage compound butter into turkey breast, being sure to rub butter on top of and beneath skin of turkey. Use fingers to gently break skin membrane as needed, forming pockets to push butter into. Avoid peeling skin off of turkey completely.
- Reduce temperature of grill to medium, between 325° to 375° Fahrenheit. Turn off burners on one half of grill, leaving burners on other half of grill turned on. If grill has 4 burners, turn off middle burners, leaving left side and right side burners on. See Notes for other grills.
- Place turkey breast skin-side down directly onto grate over turned-off burners. Close grill lid and cook turkey over indirect heat 40 minutes. Check turkey often to make sure turkey isn't burning.
- After 40 minutes, carefully flip turkey breast over. Use basting brush to spread reserved 1 tablespoon compound butter over turkey, then close lid and cook 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, check internal temperature of turkey breast by inserting meat thermometer into thickest area of turkey. If temperature does not yet read 160° Fahrenheit, close grill lid and cook another 10 minutes. Repeat temperature check, cooking another 10 minutes if needed, until internal temperature reads between 160° and 165° Fahrenheit. Note: actual cook time will vary depending on size of turkey breast.
- When turkey reaches desired temperature, carefully remove turkey breast from grill and transfer to cutting board. Cover turkey with aluminum foil and let turkey breast rest at least 15 minutes.
- Immediately prior to serving, carve turkey breast by first slicing along breastbone to separate breast meat. Once breast meat is separated, position knife perpendicular to meat and cut at slight angle, carving breast meat into ¼-inch or ½-inch thick slices, as desired.
- Serve sliced turkey breast immediately with desired sides.
- Grill: I used a gas grill with 4 burners, but this will work just fine with a 3, 5, or 6 burner grill, or with a charcoal grill. Just remember to cook the turkey breast over indirect heat.
- Turkey Breast: If you buy a kosher turkey or an already-brined turkey, you can skip the brine in this recipe and go straight to grilling your turkey. Be sure to fully thaw your turkey breast if it’s frozen. Not sure how large a turkey breast you need to feed your group? Consult this post for an easy formula.
- Herb Blend: If you can’t find a prepackaged poultry blend, you can purchase rosemary, sage, and thyme individually. Chop sprigs of each herb at the same time, then use 1 tablespoon of the chopped blend in your compound butter.
- Make it Keto: Use Brown Swerve instead of brown sugar.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.