Orange Brine Smoked Turkey Breast

my holiday dinner
Turkey Cooking, My Way

I hope everyone is having a swell holiday, I know I am enjoying a long weekend and here to report that Santa was good to me this year. I say that as I kidded my next door neighbor yesterday that Santa seems to come around for the good and the bad boys and girls.

Although this is a late holiday post, I want to share my Christmas fare with you, one I am preparing today (Sunday) and though we are enjoying our meal a day later, it just made sense with all the Christmas day going-ons. It is also not your typical Christmas day dinner, well maybe one twisted around a bit to my southern Creole-Cajun liking. I started three days ago by marinating a turkey breast in a brine, more like a sweet pickling solution that I combined from recipes in several Cajun and Creole cookbooks. And then I will smoke it over hickory and applewood chips this afternoon outside on the grill. I am also preparing a cornbread dressing, the typical southern version of stuffing in a pan, with a smoked sausage, pecan & sweet potato twist to go along with the smoked orange turkey. A simple side of buttered chive hasselback potatoes, garlic bacon green beans and hot dinner rolls should just about fill the plate for the Sunday after the holiday meal. And maybe, if the day is long enough, a Creole apple crisp with raisins and nuts for dessert.

I hope you try this recipe for a varying way to cook a bird. I will add my comments at the bottom when I upload photos. Enjoy!

Orange Brine Smoked Turkey Breast

1 -8 to 10 pound turkey breast
2 cups orange marmalade (I used my Satsuma Kumquat)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt

Rinse the turkey breast inside and out, remove the giblets if available and reserve for use in the gravy, pat breast dry. Place in a 2 gallon sealable bag or large glass bowl that will snugly hold the breast. Refrigerate while you prepare the marinade.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool completely.

Pour the marinade over the turkey breast and seal bag removing as much air as possible. Place in a bowl, breast side down and refrigerate for 3 days. Rotate every day if the brine does not completely cover the breast.

When you are ready to cook, prepare the grill (gas or charcoal) for indirect heat. Be sure to soak the wood chips for about 4 hours before you start to cook.  I used a wood chip box but have many times used the foil wrap method.

Remove breast discarding the marinade. Pat dry and rub all over with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

For Gas grills: Place the chip box or foil packets over the lower grate or shield of the fire side of your grill. Place the turkey breast on the cool side (opposite, not lit) with the cavity facing the smoke box. I place a sheet of heavy foil over the entire grill surface and breast forcing the smoke toward the bird, but only do this when cooking on very low heat. Light the grill side under the chip box and lower heat to low. Cover with the lid and let it do its thing. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours  or until testing with a meat thermometer into the thickest part reads 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, wrap in foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

For Charcoal grills: Place a drip pan in the center and on the fire grate and add about an inch of hot water or apple/orange juice mixture. Place about 30 charcoal briquettes around the pan, light and let it burn until coated with a white ash, about 30 minutes. Place breast in the center on the grate over the pan, add a small handful of chips to the charcoal and cover with the lid. Partially open the vents. Check heat after 45 minutes adding more briquettes if needed and more chips. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, wrap in foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Afterthought: Yep, this is one heck of a recipe if I may say so myself. The meat was super moist, delightfully flavored with faint hints of sweetness and very little orange, a very unique taste, pure savory turkey. This one I will surely cook again.... and maybe next time I'll double the recipe for a whole turkey or a couple of chickens.


  1. Oh Drick!

    Merry Christmas to you, my dearest long-lost cousin!

    This turkey looks divine!

  2. Hey Drick, great recipe for smoked and bried turkey breast.
    You know, Mardi Gras season 2011 starts up soon!

    Bon appetit!

  3. A perfect holiday meal, the brine flavors are outstanding..and hasselback taters..yum!

    happy holidays Drick!!

  4. Sounds fantastic Drick. I'm over from our mutual friend, Marguerite @ Cajun Delights to congratulate you as a fellow recipient of her award "Making Smiles On Faces Award". I've noticed you many times there and just wanted to introduce myself. My culinary skills are very limited so it is with awe I look at your's and Marguerite's creations. I think if she saw mine she would have to give me a special award LOL Hysterics in the kitchen.
    Between the two of you you might make a cook out of me yet LOL.
    Very best wishes for the New Year and yes I believe Mardi Gras is looming on the horizon.

  5. nice meal looks like a real tasty bird, but of course you kick everything up amazing looking ...hope you got over your cold now and able to at least taste these wonderful meal! Happy almost 2011

  6. What a beutiful looking bird. I had my first brined turkey this year and I loved it! There's no going back to ordinary roast turkey now.
    Happy Christmas!

  7. Merry Christmas!! That is a good looking bird!

  8. What a phenomenal sounding bird. I can just imagine how all of those flavors melded together.

    Happy New Year, Drick!!

  9. Oh, this looks really delicious. But Drick, why one day late? See, I bought a very large turkey, first time in my life, but didn't know how to handle it. I cut it up at the joints and cooked rice porridge with it. The breast meat have been cut up into smaller pieces and kept in the freezer...still thinking what to do with it. Looks like Santa has not been good to me :( I better be a good girl next year :P

  10. Your Christmas dinner is absolute perfection! and the Orange Brine Smoked Turkey Breast looks so succulent and delicious! I love to cook a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey and am printing this fabulous recipe out for my next buffet. Happy New Year, cher! Cheers!

  11. If anybody can make me like turkey, it would be you. Seriously.

  12. Great recipe for an orange brine smoked turkey breast. Thanks for the post.


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