There is one problem with cooking Turkey to 150*F. Dark meat. Turkey breast may be better cooked to 150*F, but turkey legs and thighs need the extra heat to break down the fat and connective tissue; they're OK at 165*F, but they're better at 170*F, and great at 175*F to 180*F. This is why cooking a whole bird is such a difficult balancing act - the lean breast meat needs to come off the heat the moment it is done, but the legs are better the longer you can cook them.
The solution? Julia Child explained in "The Way to Cook" all those years ago - don't cook a whole turkey. Carve the legs off of the breast before cooking. That way, I can pull the breast meat out the moment it is ready, and leave the legs to continue to cook. At the time, this seemed sacrilegious - I want the Normal Rockwell picture. I want to carry a whole turkey to the Thanksgiving table in triumph, not a collection of turkey pieces. Eventually I realized that I shouldn't fight science, or Julia. Turkey breast just tastes better when you cook it on its own.3
|Spices ready to be mixed into a rub|
Here is my new favorite turkey breast recipe. I cook it to 150*F, so it is juicy and tender. The rotisserie gives it beautifully crisp skin, the spice rub adds a complex layer of flavor to the exterior. What could be better?4
Recipe: Rotisserie Turkey Breast with Spice Rub
Inspired by: Bobby Flay Turkey Breast with Spanish Spice RubPrint
Rotisserie Turkey Breast with Spice Rub
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 16 4-ounce servings 1x
Spice rubbed rotisserie turkey breast recipe. Quick and full of flavor, thanks to my favorite secret ingredient - Spanish smoked paprika.
- 1 (6 to 7 pound) whole turkey breast
- 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika or sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
- Spice Rub the Turkey Breast: In a small bowl, mix the paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, mustard powder and salt. Rub 1 tablespoon of the spices in the big cavity. Work the skin loose from the breast, being careful not to tear it, and rub 1 tablespoon of spices directly on the breast meat, under the skin. Sprinkle the rest of the spices over the outside of the turkey.
- Prepare the grill: Set your grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium heat, roughly 350°F. For my Weber Summit, this means turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to medium, and turning the infrared burner to medium. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners.
- Skewer the Turkey Breast: If there is loose skin on the turkey around the wings and the neck, trim it away. Skewer the turkey on your spit, running the prongs under the belly of the bird, so you don't pierce the meat on the breast.
- Rotisserie the turkey: Put the spit on the grill, start the rotisserie motor, and cook with the lid closed. (If you are using an infrared rotisserie burner, shut it off after the turkey is browning nicely, about 30 minutes.) It should take about 1 ½ hours to cook, depending on the size of the breast. It's better to go by temperature, though - you want the breast at the thickest part to read 150°F to 155°; start checking after an hour of cooking.
- Serve: Remove the turkey from the spit and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. I like to cut the breast halves from the carcass, then slice them crosswise into ¼" thick slices for serving.
If you have time, dry brine the turkey breast with the spice rub: Rub with spices the night before, or up to 48 hours before cooking. Wrap the turkey in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until 2 hours before cooking.
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I use a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9“x13”, or whatever fits your grill. I use an enameled steel roasting pan.)
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Category: Sunday Dinner
- Method: Rotisserie
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Rotisserie, Spit Roast, Turkey Breast, Rotisserie Grilling
- Add rotisserie pan sweet potatoes to the drip pan for a quick and easy side dish. The spice rub is a great match with sweet potatoes; sprinkle a little on the sweet potatoes before you put them in the drip pan.
- As I mention in the head note, the key is to cook the breast to 150*F - turkey breast is so lean, that it goes from juicy to terribly dry if it is slightly overcooked. An instant read thermometer is absolutely necessary.
- Speaking of the spice rub...I wanted to call it a Spanish spice rub, because of the smoked paprika. But the rest of the spices are there because I like their combined flavors, not because of any Spanish flavor profile. In other words, it's a global mishmash of spices to match my taste.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Rotisserie Turkey Breast, Dry Brined is a simple version of this recipe.
Rotisserie Pan Sweet Potatoes
Rotisserie Turkey, Dry Brined with Orange and Spices
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.
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I've made this 3x now. EXCELLENT and CONSISTENT!!! I love my turkey breast on the rotisserie.
Mickey Jones says
This looks great! Do you have a recipe for gravy to go with this?
Mike Vrobel says
Yes, I do: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/pressure-cooker-giblet-gravy/
Have made this several times to rave reviews. Highly recommend!
I've made this 3 times. Once with regular paprika, once with smoked paprika, and once with 1/2 the amount of regular paprika. My favorite was using 1/2 the paprika - regular not smoked. We have a gas Bull BBQ with electric rotisserie attachment. The turkey breast was easily the juiciest, tenderest, most perfectly flavored that I've ever had, and the skin was perfectly crisped and yummy. The smoked paprika seemed to mask and not necessarily add to that fresh juicy turkey flavor that I come to expect when cooking turkey. I'll never cook turkey breast any other way!
Made this tonight - 4/5/16 - my husband is not a fan of turkey - but stated this is going on our rotation of dinners. It was/is fantastic. I was very careful to watch for the 150 - and actually pushed it up a bit past. I think 150 is the magical number though. Amazingly good - flavor is great - thanks so much for sharing.
Peter Walker says
We’re getting a fresh heritage bird tomorrow – yea! Not having dinner until Friday or Saturday. I was considering brining the turkey. Do you think that would work well with this glaze?
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
Excellent! I’m thrilled to hear you get a lot of mileage out of this recipe.
Dean Piccirilli says
I've made this at least 10 times, it is amazing in flavor! I did my one the same type of Weber Grill, The smoked Paprika is great! Take it off at 150 Degrees, I let mine sit for 1/2 hour covered with foil! Enjoy!!
Dad Who Loves to Cook
Steve Johnston says
Perfect, thanks Mike!
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
The key to keeping the juices in: cook the turkey to the correct temperature. Juices are squeezed out of meat when the muscle fibers tighten up as the turkey is heated; wrapping the turkey in foil doesn’t change that. Cook the breast to 150°F to 160°F and it will be juicy; cook it past that and it will dry out.
Steve Johnston says
I'm curious..... I've always been under the impression that you need to wrap the turkey in foil to keep the juices in, until the last hour or so to brown it. I see that this, and most other recipes don't mention this. Are there any dryness issues from skipping the foil wrap?
Mike V @ DadCooksDinner says
The whole turkey is on the rotisserie - see the pictures.
If the body of the bird is on the rotisserie, where are you cooking the legs and wings?