Grilled Turkey Breast is amazingly easy. Moist, tender, and flavorful—perfect for smaller gatherings or Thanksgiving. Add the optional Brown Sugar rub for even more flavor or seasoning of your choice.
Turkey breast—bone in or boneless
Oil—vegetable oil, olive oil, or butter
Optional brine and rub
Other optional seasoning—sprigs of fresh thyme, basil, rosemary, or other fresh herbs, pepper
- 👨🍳How to Grill a Turkey Breast
- ⏲️How long to Grill a turkey breast?
- ✔️Tips to get it right every time
- 🦃Other turkey recipes and serving dishes
- 🌡️How to monitor temperatures
- 🧂How to brine a turkey breast
- Storage of leftover turkey
- Turkey Safety
- Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
- 📖 Recipe
Featured Comment from gina:
"I have made this recipe twice within the last three months and it is fabulous."
Fire up that backyard BBQ grill for this easy recipe. Just prep the turkey, get the grill temperature controlled, place it on the grill, and return in a few hours.
Use this recipe for any smaller gathering when you don't need a whole turkey. A great summer change of pace or for a smaller holiday feast. Use the suggested brown sugar spice, a BBQ rub, or season like a traditional holiday bird.
I started with a recipe from the Chicago Tribune with a brown sugar brine and rub. It was a good start, but I added some modifications and options, simplified, and added more details to the instructions.
👨🍳How to Grill a Turkey Breast
- Thaw turkey breast if not fresh. If using a two-sided breast, remove any backbone, split the breast bone from the inside, and press flat to butterfly.
- Brining is suggested if your turkey breast has not been brined or injected.
- Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of 350° to 400°.
- Mix the optional brown sugar rub. Bush the breast with oil or melted butter. Apply the rub or a sprinkle of kosher salt if not using the rub.
- Place the turkey breast with the skin-side down for about 5 minutes over direct heat to get some browning of the skin and grill marks.
- Flip to skin side up and cook until an internal temp of 165° in the thickest part in several other locations—about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
⏲️How long to Grill a turkey breast?
Total grill time will be about 15-20 minutes per pound—usually 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on weight, thicgkness, and the grill.
Check the internal temperature early due to the variables. You must have your temperatures correct and use an instant-read thermometer.
The seasoning is entirely up to you. Just some butter with salt and a dash of pepper will be good more most people.
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- ½ teaspoon of oregano
- ½ teaspoon of cumin.
And serve the BBQ version with Memphis BBQ Sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce.
Other optional seasoning—sprigs of fresh thyme, basil, rosemary, or other fresh herbs, pepper
✔️Tips to get it right every time
- Use the turkey breast you want. I like to use half of a bone-in breast, but a whole breast butterflyed works well. Also, with time adjustments, boneless turkey breast or turkey tenderloin will work.
- You do need a grill surface thermometer and an instant-read meat thermometer. The thermometer in the grill lid is useless—DO NOT depend on it. For a fuller discussion of grill surface temperature in A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill.
- A charcoal grill may be used, but it is much harder to control the temperatures.
- Browning the skin over direct heat gets some excellent grill marks and char. You can skip the browning step if you want.
🦃Other turkey recipes and serving dishes
There are many options for serving. Do grilling side dishes, like Grilled Asparagus, Grilling Corn on the Cob, or Grilled Mixed Vegetables. Or do Thanksgiving dishes like Sweet Potato Casserole, Sausage Stuffing, Turkey Gravy, and many more.
🌡️How to monitor temperatures
Like most recipes, your success as a cook will depend on how well you can control the cooking temperature and the final temperature.
Note: All links below are affiliate links,, meaning I make a small profit from your purchases. Your price is not affected by this commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Signals®️ BBQ Alarm Thermometer from Thermaworks®️
Smoke™ by Thermoworks™
Thermapen™ One from Thermoworks™
CDN Grill Surface Thermometer
🧂How to brine a turkey breast
Grilling is very drying, so if your turkey breast is not injected or previously brined, try to brine if you have time.
A standard turkey brine of 2 quarts of water and about ¼ cup of table or Morton Kosher salt. If using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, you need about ½ cup. I have added a few other flavors with garlic, brown sugar, and bay leaf, but those are not required.
You can use the brine to introduce other favors that you want. Add some apple cider, perhaps a quartered orange. Go wild. But the most important thing is the salt-to-fluid ratio stays approximately the same. It is not an exact science, so keep it close. See How to Brine a Turkey—A Basic Brine with Enhancements for more discussion.
A quick salt note. 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
Refrigerate for 3-6 hours. Be sure to rinse off the brine and pat dry. Also, do not use salt in the rub if you brine.
Storage of leftover turkey
Store leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 4 days or freeze for 3 months.
Like any poultry, turkey must be cooked to a minimum of 165° for safety.
While we don't like to rinse poultry, the brine should be rinsed off carefully— for more information, please see Chicken… To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
A frozen turkey breast should be thawed fully according to the package instructions.
Yes, use a smoker box or a foil pack with holes. Use the wood flavor you prefer, but don't overdo it. Poultry will absorb smoke very well.
Yes, it may extend the cooking time some. But I prefer direct exposure to the heat.
A light brushing of your favorite sauce on the skin for the last 5-10 minutes of grilling. If you are planning to do this, keep the rub light.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Brining is an excellent idea if your turkey breast is not injected or previously brined. Start with a brine: 2 quart of water and add ¼ cup of table or Morton Kosher salt, ¼ cup of brown sugar, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, and 2-3 bay leaves.
Trim and clean 4-7 pound turkey breast. If brining, add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. Rinse the brine off the turkey breast carefully and pat dry with paper towels.
Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of 350° to 400°. Clean and oil grill grates well.
Optional—Mix a rub of 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, ½ teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon of cumin.
Pat dry, then brush with oil or melted butter, then apply the rub or seasoning of your choice.
Grill skin-side down for about 5 minutes to get some skin browning, then flip. Keep the lid closed and your hands off as much as possible.
Cook until internal temp of 165° (about 1 ½ to 2 hours). Time will vary by the weight and thickness of the turkey breast and by your grill. Please check the temperature early. DO NOT COOK BY TIME. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before then slice and serve.
Grilled Turkey Breast
- 4-7 pounds turkey breast - whole or half
The Brine- Only if not injected or previously brined
- 2 qts water
- ¼ cup table salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar - optional
- 2-3 cloves crushed garlic - optional
- 2-3 bay leafs - optional
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt - only if not brining
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons oil
- Brining is an excellent idea if your turkey breast is not injected or previously brined. Start with a brine: 2 quart of water and add ¼ cup of table or Morton Kosher salt, ¼ cup of brown sugar, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, and 2-3 bay leaves.
- Trim and clean 4-7 pound turkey breast. If brining, add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. Rinse the brine off the turkey breast carefully and pat dry with paper towels.
- Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of 350° to 400°. Clean and oil grill grates well.
- Optional—Mix a rub of 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, ½ teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon of cumin.
- Pat dry, then brush with oil or melted butter then apply the rub or seasoning of your choice.
- Grill skin-side down for about 5 minutes to get some skin browning, then flip. Keep the lid closed and your hands off as much as possible.
- Cook until internal temp of 165° (about 1 ½ to 2 hours). Time will vary by the weight and thickness of the turkey breast and by your grill. Please check the temperature early. DO NOT COOK BY TIME. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before then slice and serve.
Your Own Private Notes
- Only brine if the breast is not injected and not pre-brined. Warning: NEVER BRINE A PREVIOUSLY BRINED OR INJECTED TURKEY BREAST
- Do not add salt to the rub if you brine the breast.
- The brine can be modified for other flavors. See the post for some suggestions.
- A quick salt note. 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
- To do this right, you need to check the grill surface temperature with a surface thermometer and use an instant-read thermometer to determine the endpoint. Do not try this without both of those thermometers.
- Remember, the minimum safe internal temperature for turkey is 165° in the thickest part of the breast.
- Use half a full breast, but a butterflied whole breast, boneless turkey breast, or even a turkey tenderloin. Cooking time varies highly with the size of the breast.
- I'm using a serving size of ½ pound. That will be a good serving; it has no seconds or leftovers built-in like my normal turkey recipes.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published May 1, 2012. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.