Does Turkey Breast Stall When Smoking (Causes and How to Fix It)

Smoking takes the stress out of cooking a turkey breast. However, many find it hard to estimate the cooking time of the meat as it oftentimes has a ‘stall’ period

Read on to find out whether turkey breast stalls while smoking and how to time the cooking process accurately to achieve a tender and flavor-packed turkey breast.

Does Turkey Breast Stall While Smoking? 

Turkey breast does stall while smoking and may even drop a few degrees while cooking. It is easy to panic as this may feel like it will last forever. 

However, staying calm, cranking up the smoker temperature, or throwing it in the oven is your best bet at speeding up the process. 

Why Does It Stall? 

The process of stalling is known as ‘evaporative cooling’. This means that the breast meat sweats during the smoking process and the moisture evaporates and cools the meat. 

Eventually, the cooling effect and the heating equalize which causes the temperature of the meat to stall. 

What Temperature Does The Turkey Breast Stall At? 

Turkey Breast usually stalls at the 160°F mark where the meat temperature usually drags for about 60-90 minutes. This is the point when the tough collagen starts to break down into gelatin.

Should You Wrap It In Foil? 

When cooking an entire turkey, it is recommended to cover the bird in heavy-duty aluminum foil if the wings seem to be getting too dark. 

After wrapping, finish cooking the turkey in the smoker until its internal temperature reaches 165°F and you need to get it there from 145°F.

Allow it to rest for five to ten minutes before carving, once the bird is completely cooked through. 

How To Smoke Turkey Breast?

Start by preparing your rub with your desired ingredients and spices.

Next, season the turkey breast with your spice rub while preheating the smoker to 225° to 250°. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry.

Place in the turkey breast in the smoker breast side down and smoke from 225°F to 250°F for 10 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

What Is The Best Temperature To Smoke Turkey Breast? 

Most pitmasters agree that the best temperature to smoke turkey breast is 225°F. 

However, you should also monitor the internal temp of your turkey, especially after the 3.5-hour mark. This is because the bird must pass through a critical range of 40°F to 140° F in 4 hours or less. 

Is Brining Necessary? 

If you want to have a flavourful and succulent finished product, it is highly recommended to use brine before smoking your turkey breast. 

Besides adding flavor, this step will also help keep the meat moist. 

For best results, the brine should be made a day ahead of the recipe. This will ensure that all the flavor additions infuse into the brine well.

Ensure you leave time for the turkey breast to thaw before brining it. Let the turkey brine for at least 8 hours before smoking so the flavors have time to infuse into the meat. 

How Long Do You Let It Rest?

You should let the turkey breast rest after smoking, for 15 minutes to half an hour. 

Positioning the turkey breast side down while it rests may yield juicier and more tender breast meat. 

In Conclusion 

Although turkey breast does have a ‘stall’ period during the smoking process, it can be worked around by using the right technique and cranking your smoker temperature up. 

By following the guidelines mentioned above, you will be able to work through the ‘stall’ period with no problem the next time you find yourself whipping up turkey breast for your family feast! 

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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