The Ultimate Guide to Grilling a Juicy and Flavorful Charcoal Grilled Turkey Breast

Are you looking to switch up your Thanksgiving game and impress your guests with a delectable charcoal-grilled turkey breast? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of grilling a juicy and flavorful turkey breast on a charcoal grill.

Why Charcoal Grill a Turkey Breast?

Grilling your turkey breast over charcoal infuses it with a unique smoky flavor that you can’t achieve in the oven. Plus, it frees up valuable oven space for all those delicious side dishes and desserts. Not to mention, it’s a fun and interactive way to cook your Thanksgiving centerpiece!

Choosing the Right Turkey Breast

Before we dive into the grilling process, let’s talk about selecting the perfect turkey breast. Here are a few tips:

  • Opt for a bone-in turkey breast: The bone adds flavor and helps keep the meat moist during the grilling process.
  • Size matters: A 5-6 pound turkey breast is a good size for 4-6 people. Adjust accordingly based on the number of guests you’re serving.
  • Fresh or frozen: Both fresh and frozen turkey breasts work well. Just make sure to thaw the frozen one completely before grilling.

Preparing the Turkey Breast

Now that you’ve got your turkey breast, it’s time to prep it for the grill. Follow these steps:

  1. Dry Brine: A dry brine is a game-changer when it comes to adding flavor and keeping your turkey breast moist. Here’s how to do it:

    • Mix together kosher salt, dried herbs (like thyme, sage, and rosemary), and brown sugar.
    • Rub the mixture evenly over the turkey breast, making sure to get some under the skin.
    • Place the turkey breast on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 2-3 days.
  2. Compound Butter: Create a flavorful compound butter to baste your turkey breast while grilling. Here’s a recipe:

    • Soften one stick of salted butter at room temperature.
    • Mix in chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), grated lemon and orange zest, and their juices.
  3. Prepare the Grill: Set up your charcoal grill for indirect cooking by banking the charcoal on either side of the grill and placing a disposable aluminum drip pan in the center.

Grilling the Turkey Breast

Now for the main event! Here’s how to grill your turkey breast to perfection:

  1. Soak Wood Chips: Soak apple, cherry, or hickory wood chips in water for about 30 minutes. These will add a delicious smoky flavor to your turkey.

  2. Light the Charcoal: Use a chimney starter to light the charcoal. Once the coals are glowing hot, arrange them on either side of the grill.

  3. Prepare the Grill: Brush the cooking grates clean and add the drained wood chips to the hot coals.

  4. Start Grilling: Place the turkey breast, skin side up, over the drip pan. Baste the skin with the melted compound butter.

  5. Grill and Baste: Cover the grill and let the turkey breast cook, basting with the compound butter every 20 minutes or so.

  6. Check for Doneness: Use an instant-read thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the breast (not touching the bone).

  7. Rest and Serve: Remove the turkey breast from the grill and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving and serving.

Estimated Grilling Times

Keep in mind that grilling times can vary depending on the size of your turkey breast and the temperature of your grill. Here’s a general guideline:

  • 5-6 pound bone-in turkey breast: 1 to 1 1/2 hours
  • 12-14 pound whole turkey: 4-5 hours

Remember, always use a thermometer to determine doneness rather than relying solely on time.

Tips and Tricks

  • Baste Often: Basting your turkey breast with the compound butter not only adds flavor but also helps create a crispy, golden-brown skin.
  • Use a Roast Holder: If your turkey breast is having trouble standing upright, use a roast holder to keep it in place.
  • Monitor the Temperature: Use an iGrill or other wireless thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your turkey breast without having to lift the grill lid constantly.
  • Add Smoke Flavor: For an extra smoky flavor, try grilling your turkey breast on a charcoal smoker or add a few chunks of smoking wood to the charcoal.
  • Tent with Foil: If the skin starts to brown too quickly, tent the turkey breast with foil to prevent burning.

Bonus: Leftover Ideas

One of the best parts of grilling a turkey breast is the delicious leftovers! Here are a few ideas to make the most of them:

  • Smoked Turkey Pot Pie: Substitute smoked turkey and stock for the chicken in your favorite pot pie recipe.
  • Turkey Sandwiches: Pile that smoky turkey high on bread or rolls with your favorite toppings.
  • Turkey Soup or Chili: Shred or dice the leftover turkey and add it to a hearty soup or chili.
  • Turkey Salad: Toss diced turkey with mayo, celery, onions, and your favorite mix-ins for a tasty salad.

Final Thoughts

Grilling a turkey breast on a charcoal grill is a fantastic way to add a smoky twist to your Thanksgiving feast. With a little preparation and these helpful tips, you’ll be serving up a juicy, flavorful, and impressive main dish that your guests will rave about. So fire up that grill and get ready to make some delicious memories!

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