How to Tell if Turkey Breast Is Done (3 Safe and Simple Ways)

Nothing tastes better than a perfectly cooked turkey breast, but how do you know if it’s done right? Don’t worry about the time charts and cooking until the juices run clear, you need to use a thermometer.

It is the only way you can guarantee you will have a perfected, cooked, juicy turkey. You need to know exactly where to take the temperature, which is the deepest part of the breast, without touching any bones. I’ll show you how to do that below


Why Is It Important to Cook Turkey Breast Meat to the Right Temperature?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says a cooked turkey must have at least 165 degrees to avoid foodborne illness.

When the meat exceeds this temperature, it becomes dry. People who say they don’t like turkey have probably only eaten it when it’s been overcooked.


How Do You Tell if Turkey Breast Is Done Cooking?

Your smoked turkey breast is done cooking when it reaches 165°. To check if the turkey breast has reached this temperature, you need a well-calibrated instant-read digital thermometer.

A chef’s best friend is a meat thermometer. It lets you check the temperature inside the meat to ensure it’s cooked to the right breast temperature.

When using a meat thermometer, put it in the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone since the bone can give you a false reading.

There are many kinds of meat thermometers, but an instant-read thermometer is the best because it gives you an accurate reading in just a few seconds.

Check the temperature of the breast in several places to ensure it’s cooked evenly.


What if You Don’t Have a Meat Thermometer on Hand? How Can You Tell if the Turkey Breast Is Done?

There are four methods; however, I always recommend using a thermometer. But if you are in a real bind and don’t have one you can try these.

Time and Temperature

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use a timer to tell when the turkey breast is done. The general rule is to set oven temperatures at 165 degrees for 20 minutes per pound.

Cooking a 6-pound turkey breast should take about 120 minutes. Dark meat, which can be cooked to 180 degrees, takes longer than white meat.

The Color of The Skin

You can also tell if a turkey breast is done by its visual cues. When a turkey breast is done, the outside should be golden brown, and the skin should be crispy.

Are The Juices Clear

Look for clear juices by cutting into the thickest part of the turkey breast with a sharp knife. You can poke the meat with a fork or skewer to see if the juices run clear. When you cook turkey breast to the right oven temperatures, the juices will run clear when you cut into it.


Texture and Touch

Another thing to check is the texture of the meat. The turkey breast should feel firm but also soft and juicy. If it feels tough or rubbery, it’s probably overcooked meat. If it feels soft or mushy, it’s probably not done enough and needs to return to the oven. When I cooked turkey breast on my Pit Boss, I always did the feel test to see if it was done. Other than using a thermometer, this is my favorite way.

Put your finger on the thickest part of the breast and press it. The meat should be firm but still have a little give. If it is too firm and doesn’t give, it’s probably been cooked too long. The meat is undercooked if it is too soft and doesn’t give.


How Long Does It Take to Cook a Turkey Breast Meat?

A good rule of thumb is to cook the turkey breast for 15-20 minutes per pound, but always follow a simple recipe and use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.


If you’re roasting the turkey breast, we suggest placing it side breast side down in a roasting pan with a wire rack to keep it off the bottom and let air flow around it, making the breast skin crispier.

Grilling/ Smoking

If you are grilling or smoking the turkey breast, use indirect heat and a drip pan to catch any drippings, which can cause flare-ups. Note: turkey will take longer to cook than chicken. So if you’re cooking both, allow more time for the turkey.


Resting a Turkey Breast

Resting is essential to ensuring your turkey breast is juicy and tender. Let the turkey breast rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes after you take it off the heat.

During this time, the meat’s internal temperature will continue to rise, and the juices will move inside, making it more tender and flavorful.

Cover the turkey breast with aluminum foil to keep it warm while it rests. If you cut the meat right after cooking, the juices can leak out, drying the meat.

Cooking a turkey breast to perfection can seem daunting, but with these tried-and-true techniques, you can confidently determine when it’s done.


So the next time you prepare a holiday feast or a family dinner, remember these tips and rest easy knowing that your turkey breast will be juicy, tender, and delicious!

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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