Grilled Boneless Turkey Breast with Herb Butter

April 27, 2012

I have been making this 4-1/2-star Grilled Boneless Turkey Breast with Mango and Pepper Salsa for a few years, but today I tried one of Chris Kimball’s published variation with herb butter. I was very disappointed, and will stick to the mango and pepper salsa in the future. The turkey was perfectly cooked and very moist. The herb butter was fine in and of itself, but did not compliment the smokiness of the turkey in any way. I give this combination 3 stars, and will never make it again.

While the herb butter was a disappointment; the turkey was still good.


  1. My Kingsford charcoal petered out after an hour so I had to finish cooking the turkey in the oven. I modified step 9 so that you’ll know when you need to begin pre-heat the oven.
  2. Because my 6:30 dinner time had passed, I only rested the roast for 10 minutes before slicing. It did lose quite a bit of moisture as I sliced it, so I’d recommend waiting the full 20 minutes.

Rating: 3 stars.
Cost: $6 .
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 3 PM.  Ready:  7 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2-cup wood chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Ground black pepper

Herb Butter:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
2 medium garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Use your fingers to separate skin from meat, then completely remove the skin from the breast, being careful that the skin stays in one piece. Set it aside for the time being. Use a boning knife to completely remove each each breast half, cutting down along the rib cage until the breasts are free. Discard the bones or save them for making turkey stock.
  2. Cut a 36″ length of kitchen twine and six or seven 16″ lengths of kitchen twine.
  3. Evenly sprinkle both sides of each breast with a total of 4 teaspoons kosher salt (2 teaspoons per breast). Lay one breast on the cutting board with the cut-side facing up, then place the second breast with the cut-side facing down. Arrange so that the thick end of the turkey so over the tapered end, which will eventually result in a cylinder of turkey with a roughly equal diameter. Place the turkey skin over the breast.
  4. First loosely tie the 36″ length of twine lengthwise around the turkey. If you try to over tighten the turkey halves will fall apart. Then firmly tie a 16″ length of twine cross-wise at the center of the roast. Next firmly tie a 16″ length of twine cross-wise at both ends. Finally continue tying up the roast with kitchen twine until it is bound at 1″ intervals.
  5. Once tied, stretch the skin so that it covers as much of the roast as possible. Put it on a wire rack set over a rimmed sheet pan. Place it uncovered in refrigerator for 1 hour. Meanwhile soak wood chips in water, so that they’ll smoke rather than burn.
  6. Meanwhile make the herb butter (or better yet the Mango and Pepper Salsa). Mince tarragon, thyme, and garlic cloves to fine paste. Add herb past to a small bowl together with ground black pepper and softened butter.
  7. With about 20 minutes to go, ignite a full chimney started filled with charcoal. It should take about 20 minutes until the coals become fully ignited. Empty the coals on half the grill, leaving the other half without any coals. Drain the wood chips and sprinkle evenly over the coals. Allowing the grill to preheat for 5 minutes will make it easier to clean.
  8. Rub 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over the roast and sprinkle with pepper (it already has plenty of salt).
  9. Place the roast near the coals, but not directly over them. Cover and close the bottom vents half-way, then set the top vents 3/4-of-way closed. After 30 minutes rotate the roast 180-degrees. After another 40 minutes the internal temperature of the roast should reach 150-degrees.  If your internal temperature is not 150-degrees, begin to preheat your oven to 375-degrees because your charcoal won’t be enough.
  10. Move roast to the hot-side and cook, covered, for 10 to 20 minutes, rotating every few minutes so that the skin browns evenly until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  11. Cut away twine and slice into 1/2″-thick slices.

%d bloggers like this: