Smoked Turkey for a Small Holiday Dinner in an Electric Smoker

Smoked Turkey for a Small Holiday Dinner in an Electric Smoker

1 hrs
2 hrs

Thanksgiving. The biggest meal most people will make all year. But what if you only have a few people joining you? Here are some ideas to make it easier.



  • 1 3-4 pound turkey breast half
  • 1/2 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • vegetable oil
  • cherry, apple or maple wood chips

Ingredient Tips

The hardest challenge is the turkey. The general rule of thumb is to plan on one pound of meat per person. This will allow everyone to enjoy a full meal and still have some leftovers for turkey sandwiches the next day.
For small parties up to four or five people, buy a half turkey breast (usually 3 to 4 pounds). If anyone really loves dark meat, pick up two or three thighs. This lets you serve what everyone wants and nothing gets dry because you can pull each piece off the grill when it’s done. When you are cooking a whole turkey by the time the legs and thighs are done the breast is overcooked. By working with cut up pieces, everything is cooked perfectly.
One of the most challenging things to do is scaling down all normal-size holiday recipes. Everyone wants a little of each dish so they take smaller servings. Try reducing the amount of each dish you have to make.For example, if a recipes says the yield is four servings, plan on getting about eight servings from that same recipe. Everyone will still be able to have a wide variety.


Step 1 Of 8
Set the turkey breast on a baking sheet on the counter to come to room temperature. While it is warming up, make the compound butter.
In a small bowl combine the butter with the sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix together with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
In your electric smoker, add your wood chips to the smoker box until half full and insert into the smoker. Add water to the fill line in the water pan and insert into the smoker.
Arrange the racks so there is enough room between them to hold the turkey breasts. Preheat the smoker (takes about 40 minutes). While it is preheating, prep the turkey breast.
Slip your fingers under the skin on the top of the turkey, separating the skin from the meat. Put the herbed butter under the skin, pressing it so that it covers the whole top of the breast. This helps protect it and keep it moist and tender. Rub some oil over the skin and sprinkle it with a little more salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
When the smoker is ready, place the turkey on a rack in the center, insert the temperature probe deep into the meat being sure not to have it touching a bone. Insert it lengthwise through the muscle for the best results.
Close smoker door and set to 160 degrees f.
Hot Tip
It will take about 30 minutes per pound so depending on the size of the turkey breast, it should be done in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Always go by the internal temperature rather than timing to judge doneness.
Once finished, remove the rack with the turkey on it and place the whole thing on a clean baking sheet. Cover the turkey loosely with a sheet of foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before transferring to a cutting board and carving.
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