Hot Smoked Pheasant Breasts

Wet brinpheasant
Cured pheasant
Hot smoked pheasant breasts

Today we have a recipe for hot smoked pheasant breasts and to get maximum flavour and succulence from our pheasant we are going to be wet brining it. This in its simplest form means we will make a salty solution to place the pheasant breasts in which through a process osmosis will have a relaxing effect on the proteins within the muscle. Breaking them down and ultimately tenderising the meat. 

The only two ingredients you need is salt and water, but to make things more interesting we have made our wet brine with lots of herbs and spices. As the pheasant absorbs the salty water it will also take on any extra flavours we add to our brine. The size of the muscle you want to use will determine the amount of time it spends in the brine. Pheasant breasts are generally fairly small so will only get four hours but a whole pheasant might need eight hours. Whereas a fish fillet might only need 15-20 minutes, a  whole turkey will need to be in the brine for 24 hours or overnight at the bare minimum.

Your ingredients can spend too much time in the brine making them unpalatable, with way too much salt or at worst will break down so much that it becomes wet and pappy. It is paramount that the pheasant goes into the brine once it has cooled otherwise the muscle will start to gently poach, which will not only change the texture but also potentially place our pheasant breast into the “danger zone” allowing unwanted bacteria to grow.

Choose a non-reactive container, large enough to hold your pheasant breasts fully submerged and weighed down with a plate if needed. Lastly your container needs to be scrupulously clean without any deep scratches.

Interested in learning more about sourcing, cooking and eating pheasant? Have a read of our blog post, Spotlight on Pheasant.


4 - 6 as a starter

6 skinless pheasant breasts
1 litre water
75g sugar
100g salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 orange, sliced
2 allspice berries
8 juniper berries
10 peppercorns
½ bunch parsley stalks, roughly chopped
½ tsp caraway seeds



Place 250ml of the water into a heavy based saucepan. Place over a high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt and sugar, whisking until the salt and sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour in the remaining 750ml of cold water followed by the bay leaf, sliced orange, juniper berries, peppercorns, parsley stalks and caraway seeds. Place in the fridge to cool completely.

Place skinless pheasant breasts into your cooled brine. Allow to brine for 4 hours in the fridge.


Once the brining time is up, remove the pheasant breasts and give them a rinse under cold running water.

Pat them dry with kitchen roll and place on a cooling rack set over a tray to catch the drips. Place the pheasant into the fridge, uncovered for a few hours or overnight.

This allows the pheasant to form a pellicle which will help the smoke adhere to the meat.


Set your bbq or smoker up for indirect smoking. I’m going to be using The Big Green Egg filled with Green Olive Wood charcoal and a decent wedge of cherry wood (placed on to the coals the same time as the pheasant breasts hit the grill). Once The Big Green Egg is nice and hot I will place the ConvEggtor (legs up) inside the egg. Close down the vents with a small gap to regulate the temperature around 110.c.

Once your smoker is up to temperature around 100 – 110℃, place the cherry wood into the coals and the pheasant onto the Eggspander grill  rack. Smoke slowly to a core temperature of 65℃ using an instant read thermometer. Hold it at this temperature for at least a minute and remove the pheasant from the smoker.

Allow the pheasant to cool completely before wrapping in cling film or vacuum sealing and place in the fridge overnight for the smokiness to equalise before eating.

Our hot smoked pheasant breasts are perfect thinly sliced and tossed into a hearty winter salad, or why not use them to top a smoky pheasant wood fired pizza using our favourite The Gozney Roccbox.

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Things to Note

Interested in learning more about sourcing, cooking and eating pheasant? Have a read of our blog post, Spotlight on Pheasant.

Pheasant is a healthy and abundant source of protein. Roaming free outdoors for their entire life, pheasants (like all game) are naturally lean. The meat is delicate in flavour and very versatile – it makes a great substitution for chicken.

At The Salt Box, we host a range of butchery and cookery courses celebrating all things feathered and furred. Throughout the season, join us on our Wild Venison Butchery Course or our Wild Game Butchery and Cookery Course, here in our Woodland Kitchen.

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