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Another disappointing Turkey trial


Meat Mopper
Joined Feb 5, 2009
Hey all,

Looking for some input.  I just finished my second run at smoked boneless skinless turkey breast this past Friday night (and into about 4:30am Sat morning), and for the second time, it was too salty, and drier than I would expect for a brined piece of bird.

I followed the brine recipe and instructions for smoked turkey found in Charcuterie, which was:

1gallon water

1.5 cups salt  - took out about 3TB-1/4 Cup this time

0.5 cups sugar

8tsp cure#1

2TB peppercorns

1 Bay leaf

I forget exactly how many cloves fresh garlic

2 bunches fresh tarragon (awesome aroma from that)

Brined for 48 hours, thoroughly rinsed, smoked at 200F until an internal of 160.  Smoked in my MEC (Centro), used apple chips.  I also spritzed the breasts with apple juice every hour or so.

The words used in the book to describe this treatment run along the lines of 'moist, succulent, delicious'.  Mine was more like 'not bad, but saltier than homemade bacon, and a little on the dry side', and not so much as a hint of tarragon in the finished product.   

I brought one breast to a pot luck on Saturday, but not until after I simmered it in 0.5 gal of water and a cup of sugar for 20min.  Took a lot of the harsh saltiness out of it, but still not particularly moist.  Served it cubed on toothpicks with a cranberry orange sauce, made by my wife, which was super.

If I want it to be moister and less salty, do I take more salt out of the brine? Do I brine boneless skinless breasts for less time? Should I use my electric smoke house just to impart the smoke flavor and finish in a conventional oven (which would speed things up I'm sure)? 

I'm thinking when I do this the next time, I'd use 1 cup of salt rather than 1.5cups, but the chef who wrote the book, well, he's a chef, and I'm barely a cook.  I figure the problem really has to be me and not the recipe.

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply if ya do!

Mark B

smoke 2 geaux

Smoking Fanatic
Joined Mar 18, 2010

Why the boneless / skinless breast?  I think that skin plays an important part in keeping some moisture in the bird.  Not to mention that it's downright tasty.  I can't comment on the salt situation because i'm not a briner.  You may want to try injecting to see if you prefer that method.  I do.


Smoking Guru
SMF Premier Member
Joined Mar 10, 2010
I am with you Smoke 2 on the injecting method..The brining is always to salty for me..and it gives the bird a texture that I am not crazy about.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 13, 2009
too long a soak.........8 hrs is fine

dump the cure........you really don't need it

get some skin.........it will protect the meat and self baste

don't spritz........it washes away the fat, try a baste with butter or marg.

raise the temp to 250-275.......


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
Joined Jul 19, 2010
I am reading the book and recipe you used.

The recipe says..bone in turkey breast.

And it looks like he is saying to use  fresh meat.

Some of the store bought turkeys have all kinds of stuff injected.

Don't give up.

You might look at Pops recipes for brines and smoking.

Check the WIKIs.


Meat Mopper
Thread starter
Joined Feb 5, 2009
Hey, thanks for the replies. 

Re: Boneless skinless cuz that's how they came from my meat shop - local, free range, all natural turkeys, not sure what became of the thighs, legs and wings.... I could buy a whole bird and have it quartered, dont think it would fit in my little smoker whole.

Re: mop juice, no apple juice, fat based bastes only, check! :)

Re: Skin on, bone in, check. 

Re: Cure#1, I wasn't really concerned about botulism, with the brining, smoke, and finish temp, etc, more like I wanted to see if the turkey would stay a pinkish color, like a deli meat.  It didn't.

Re: meat pumping/injecting, I have a hypodermic looking injector I bought from Home Depot, haven't used it yet, I guess I need to do some reading up on it.  Must be some advice on what to inject around here somewhere...Pop's recipes you say....

Thanks again! 


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Jun 5, 2009
Mark look in the Wiki section under "T" for Tips Slaughterhouse brine. It uses a lot less salt, and makes for a really tastey bird. If you do get a skinless breast I would suggest you drape some bacon over it (or wrap it in a bacon weave), to keep it basted and moist during cooking.

I used Tip's brine for the first time ever on Thanksgiving, and that is by far the best turkey I have produced yet. Only change I made to the brine was to add 2 tsp. of poultry seasoning, which gave it a nice herby flavor.


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 18, 2007
Yea that seems like quite a bit of salt and not to mention the cure in there plus being brined for 48 hours. I'm not surprised that the bird is kind of salty.Cut back the salt/cure/brine time and I bet you will have better results.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Jan 19, 2008
That be 3 times the amount a salt ya need ta brine poultry.  Use 1/2 cup a salt an half cup a brown sugar.

Ya need ta brine about 1 hour per pound er no more then overnight.  I do chicken pieces overnight an there still not salty.

Rinse yer bird after the brine an pat dry.

Now a skinless piece a meat could benefit from layin some bacon on it an pinnin in place with toothpicks ta help hold in a bit a moisture.

The cure won't hurt nothin, but will give a different more ham like taste ta the bird.  Personally I don't use it, but know a folks what do.  That be a personal choice.

Keep workin at it, yall get it right.  Take notes on what works an what don't.  Smokin be a craft, takes time ta get things where ya wan't em.

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