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?

Ensuring the meat is fully cooked is one of the hardest things about cooking a turkey breast.

Undercooked turkey breast is dangerous because it might have harmful bacteria like Salmonella, causing food poisoning.

On the other hand, turkey cooked too long can be dry and tough, making it less tasty.

No matter how much or little you know about cooking, we’ve got you covered!

This blog post will tell you how to tell if your turkey breast is done.

So, please put on your apron, and let’s start making a dish that will make your guests want to come back for more!


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.

The turkey is safe because harmful bacteria are killed at this temperature.

When the meat exceeds this temperature, you end up with dry meat.

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 its reaches 165°.

You need a  a well-calibrated instant-read digital thermometer to check the if the turkey breast has reached this temperature.

A chef’s best friend is a meat thermometer.

A meat thermometer lets you check the temperature inside the meat to make sure 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?

You can use a timer to tell when the turkey breast is done if you don’t have a meat thermometer.

The general rule is to set oven temperatures at 165 degrees for 20 minutes per pound.

If you are cooking a 6-Pound turkey breast, it should take about 120 minutes of cook time.

Dark meat can be cooked to 180 and takes longer to cook than white meat.

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.

Look for clear juices using a sharp knife to cut into the thickest part of the turkey breast.

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.

The turkey breast is not fully cooked if the juices have a pink color or a reddish tint.

The pink meat color occurs due to the myoglobin found in the muscle cell.

Also, make sure the juices are clear and not cloudy or murky.

If the turkey’s juices are cloudy, it may have been cooked too long.

The texture of the meat is another thing to check.

The turkey breast should feel firm, but it should also be soft and juicy.

If feels tough or rubbery, it’s probably over-cooked meat. If it feels soft or mushy, it’s probably not done enough and needs to return to the oven.

Another way to tell if a turkey breast is done is to touch it. When I cooked turkey breast on my Pit Boss, I always do the feel test to see if it done or not. 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 to it. If the meat 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.

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 your cooking both allow more time for the turkey.


What Is the Resting Time of a Turkey Breast

Resting is important in ensuring your turkey breast is cooked just right.

Let the turkey breast rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes after you take it off the oven.

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!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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 adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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