This Roast Turkey Breast recipe is supremely juicy, tender, flavorful, smothered in herb butter under the skin and drenched with gravy over top!
This Roasted Turkey Breast will steal the show from the holiday sides! It’s the easy-to-prep alternative to a full-size turkey that comes pre-brined, cooks more evenly and quickly, with zero flipping required for foolproof, tender, just results every time. The turkey breast is smothered in rich garlic herb butter under and over the skin which bastes the turkey as it roasts to succulent, juicy, golden-brown perfection, then served with a quick pan gravy made from the sensational drippings. Serve this Roast Turkey Breast recipe with garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and cornbread stuffing for the perfect feast!
Looking to make a full-size turkey this year? Check out all you need to know to prepare it here.
How to Make Roast Turkey Breast Video
Why This Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Recipe is Amazing
The herb butter. Roast Turkey Breast drenched in herb butter made with garlic, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper is the most flavorful turkey around! It’s made with dried herbs so they don’t burn while delivering a punch of flavor.
Extremely juicy. The herb butter is smeared under the skin so it drips down and bastes the turkey while it roasts, so every surface is not only dripping with flavor, but extremely moist.
The best gravy. The herb butter drippings also make the best gravy! Additionally, the turkey is roasted on a bed of garlic and fresh herbs which infuse the pan juices (and future gravy) with even more flavor.
Why You Might Roast a Turkey Breast
If you are hosting an intimate gathering for Thanksgiving this year, then roasting a turkey breast is a no brainer. But, that’s not the only reason why turkey breast is a good idea:
1. Turkey breasts are a cinch to roast. There’s no brining, no flipping, no fuss. Just smear with herb butter and pop in the oven, that’s it! They’re also super quick and easy to carve.
2. No special equipment required. All you need is a 9×13 pan (or other roasting pan) and a meat thermometer (which I consider a kitchen staple).
3. Quick to make. Roasting a whole turkey will take days to thaw plus another day to brine. Turkey breast, on the other hand, will thaw more quickly and almost always comes pre-brined.
4. Less expensive. If you’re on a budget, then turkey breast is the way to go.
5. Serves those extra guests. If you have a few too many guests for a whole turkey, but don’t want to roast an entire second bird, then roasting turkey breast will save the day.
6. Extra white meat. Roasting turkey breast delivers nothing but juicy slices of white meat so there is zero waste for all those families who prefer white meat over dark.
7. Year-round turkey. Turkey breast is less hassle, less mess and less time to roast than a whole turkey, so you can make it any night of the week year-round for sandwiches, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, turkey tetrazzini, etc.
Should I use boneless or bone-in turkey breast?
Turkey breasts are sold both boneless, and bone-in. For the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast, I recommend whole bone-in and skin-on breasts, which is what is used in this recipe. One whole bone-in turkey breast are two breasts still attached at the breast bone, with the legs and wings removed (also called the turkey crown) and weigh 5 to 8 pounds. Sometime they are labeled “Turkey breast with ribs, back portion, wing portion, etc.”
Half turkey breast or split turkey breast is just one side of the breast and is much smaller, usually only 3 pounds.
Most grocery stores sell bone-in turkey breast year-round. You’ll either find them in the chest coolers or in the butcher’s display case. In either location, they will likely be frozen, so make sure to plan enough time to thaw your bird.
Can I use boneless turkey breast?
This recipe can also work with boneless turkey breast. However, boneless are smaller and weigh much less, so make sure to reduce the cooking time. One (three-pound) turkey breast will feed two to four people.
HOW MUCH TURKEY BREAST DO I NEED PER PERSON?
When selecting your turkey breast, it’s helpful to know how much you need! The general rule of thumb is to cook one pound of turkey per person. So, a 7-pound turkey breast will feed 7 people. Of course, there are variables in this calculation such as kids, big/small eaters, but in general, 1 pound/person is safe. If you want plenty of turkey for leftovers, aim for 1 ½ – 2 pounds per person.
HOW TO THAW YOUR TURKEY Breast
The turkey breast needs to be completely thawed before roasting.
Thawing the breast in the refrigerator: This is the safest method due to the consistent safe temperature. As a rule of thumb, the turkey breast will take AT LEAST 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. So, if you have an 8-pound turkey breast, plan on 48 hours to be safe. Once thawed, the turkey is safe for another two days in the refrigerator before cooking. So, you can start thawing Monday and cook on Thursday.
Cold water thawing: This method needs your almost constant attention but is by far the quickest. Allow for 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound, so an 8-pound turkey breast will take 4 hours to thaw using this method. Add the turkey to a sink, deep stock pot (or even a Home Depot Bucket) etc., and cover with cold water. Set your timer and change the water every 30 minutes. Once the turkey has thawed, cook it immediately.
To Brine, or Not to Brine?
Turkey breast is lean, light meat, so it definitely needs to be brined, but not by you! The good news is most turkey breasts sold in stores are already injected with a brine solution – so all the work is done for you! In fact, it is nearly impossible to find turkey breast that does not come pre-brined. On the label or ingredients, it should indicate something like “salt solution” or “turkey broth, salt, etc.”
However, if by chance you can only find turkey breast that is not brined, you can do it yourself by scaling this recipe.
Roasted Turkey Breast Ingredients
Now that you know exactly what turkey breast to purchase, let’s take a closer look at what else you’ll need to make this Roast Turkey Breast recipe (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
For the turkey breast:
For the herb butter:
For the turkey gravy:
possible recipe variations
Garlic and herbs are classic with turkey, but if that’s not for you, feel free to swap the herbs for your favorite seasonings, then follow the same method for roasting the turkey. Here are a few ideas:
How to Roast Turkey Breast
Roasting turkey breast is easy! Simply smear with herb butter and roast! I’ve outlined the process with step-by-step photos below or you can watch the How to Make Video in the recipe card (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Bring Turkey Breast to Room Temperature
- Dry the turkey. Remove the turkey from its packaging and transfer to a cutting board. Pat the turkey completely dry with paper towels. This will help the herb butter stick to the skin. Also, the dryer the skin, the crispier!
- Bring turkey to room temperature. Let the turkey breast sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. This is important because it helps the turkey breast cook more evenly instead of drying out the outside while waiting for the inside to cook through.
- Prepare the pan. While the turkey is resting, prepare the roasting pan by layering sliced onions, oranges, herbs and garlic in the middle. Pour some chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. The onions and orange slices elevate the turkey to promote even cooking and browning.
Step 5: Make and Apply the Herb Butter
- Make herb butter: Simply mix together the softened butter, olive oil, Dijon, and seasonings.
- Reserve some butter: Transfer 2 tablespoons herb butter to another small bowl and reserve for the gravy; double the flavor without double the work!
- Loosen the skin: Working with one breast at a time, gently loosen the skin of with the help of the upside of a spoon if needed, then gently run your fingers between the skin and the meat, taking care not to tear the skin.
- Add the herb butter: Rub about 2/3 of the herb butter underneath the skin on each side (⅓ of the butter per breast). After you spread the butter as far as you can underneath the skin, help spread it the rest of the way by massaging it through the top of the skin to the edges. Finally, rub the remaining butter all over the top skin of the turkey breast.
Step 6: Roast the Turkey Breast
- Stabilize the turkey breast: Transfer the turkey to the bed of aromatics SKIN SIDE UP. If it’s a little wobbly, balance it with the onions and orange slices. You can even slice more onions/oranges to stabilize where needed.
- Crisp up the skin: Roast the turkey breast at 450ºF for 20 minutes, uncovered. You’re looking for the skin to start to brown.
- Baste: Baste with juices from the bottom of the pan.
- Roast: Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and continue to roast, uncovered, until the center or thickest portion registers 155-160ºF on an instant read thermometer.
Step 7: Let the Turkey Breast Rest
- Rest: Transfer the Roasted Turkey Breast to a cutting board. Let rest, UNCOVERED (so the skin doesn’t get soggy), for 15-20 minutes before carving.
Step 8: Make the Turkey Gravy
- Remove the onions: Remove the onions, orange slices, garlic and herbs from the bottom of the pan and pour the remaining liquid into a fat separator cup to skim off fat when poured. The turkey drippings are the deeply flavorful rich scrapings from the bottom of the roasting pan and boast concentrated flavor that translates into the best gravy. See tips below if you don’t have a degreasing cup.
- Make the roux: Next, melt some unsalted butter with one tablespoon reserved Herb Butter, then whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes, whisking constantly.
- Whisk in the broth. Add the degreased turkey drippings plus enough chicken broth to equal 2 ½ cups.
- Simmer. Simmer until the gravy is thickened to your desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, whisk in additional broth.
- Season to taste. Now taste and add the additional one tablespoon Herb Butter if your gravy needs more flavor. Taste again, and season with salt and pepper.
Step 9: How to Carve the turkey.
- Carve turkey: Starting at the breast bone, carve the turkey, keeping your knife as close to the ribs as possible, until the whole breast is carved from the bone; some meat will still be left on the bone.
- Slice: Once no longer attached to the bone, slice the breast crosswise into slices.
How long do I cook a turkey breast per pound?
There are many variables when roasting turkey breast, but in general, bone-in turkey breast requires 18 to 20 minutes per pound. So, just over an hour to 1 ½ hours to cook 4 pounds of meat and almost 2 ½-3 hours for an 8-pound turkey.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN THE TURKEY IS DONE?
Your turkey breast is done and should be removed from the oven when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers between 155˚F to 160˚F. The temperature will carryover to 165 degrees after it rests 10-15 minutes.
You NEED an instant read meat thermometer for roasting a turkey breast – this is NON-NEGOTIABLE. You won’t know when the turkey breast is cooked to juicy perfection if you don’t have one! You can pick up an inexpensive instant read thermometer at any grocery store or Target, Walmart – most places should carry them, or there is always Amazon.
Instead of an instant thermometer, I’m obsessed with my digital meat probe thermometer (as seen in the video). You stick the probe in the turkey (or any protein, I use it for chicken, steak, pork, etc. every day) and set an alert for the finished temperature, walk away and it will beep when ready! This will guarantee perfectly cooked juicy turkey every time!
How do you Prevent turkey breast from drying out?
Roast Turkey Breast is lean meat, so it has a tendency to dry out if not cooked properly. Here are a few key tips to pay attention to:
Roasted Turkey Breast FAQS
There is no need to use an oven bag to roast a turkey breast in this recipe. The point of an oven bag is to lock in moisture and flavor; however, the self-basting herb butter does that for you! Additionally, the skin does not get nearly as crispy using an oven bag.
Whether you want to avoid the skin for dietary reasons, or it’s simply not your thing, I still recommend always roasting turkey breast with bone in and skin on meat. The skin traps in the herb butter and insulates the turkey making it’s super juicy. You can remove the skin after it’s cooked if you like.
Oven roasted turkey breast is very simple to make – not need to brine or flip the turkey! This recipe starts by making a seasoned herb butter, then rubbing it underneath the skin of the turkey then all over the skin of the turkey. The turkey then gets roasted at high heat to crisp the skin, then is finished cooking at a lower heat to cook the bird evenly and thoroughly.
You do not need to baste Oven Roasted Turkey Breast because it cooks more quickly than a whole roasted turkey and because the herb butter keeps the turkey moist. That being said, I still like to baste the turkey a few times within the first hour, then leave it alone until finished cooking so the skin can crisp up.
I recommend bone-in turkey breast which is turkey breast attached to the bone but with the legs and wings removed. It is juicier and more flavorful than boneless turkey breast.
It’s best to start roasting the turkey breast at high heat, 450°F to immediately begin browning the skin, then turn the heat down to 325°F so that the breast meat cooks through slowly.
Plan on 18-20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees to roast a turkey breast.
–6-pound bone-in turkey breast takes just under 2 hours to 2 hours to bake
–7-pound bone-in turkey breast takes just over 2 hours to 2 ¼ hours to bake
-8-pound bone-in turkey breast takes just under 2 ½ hours to 2 ¾ hours to bake
Yes, just move the serving arrows in the printable recipe card up or down until the turkey pounds in the ingredients matches your turkey breast. Be prepared to reduce or increase the roasting time accordingly.
If the skin on your turkey breast is browning too quickly before it’s baked through, loosely tent it with foil. You can even tent the top with foil and leave the bottom uncovered if the top is browning more quickly than the sides or bottom.
Serve this Oven Roasted Turkey Breast recipe with your favorite Thanksgiving, Christmas, and comfort food sides for a real feast!
Ways to Use Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey
If you wind up with leftovers of this Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, consider yourself blessed! Try adding it to the following recipes:
Make ahead instructions
To prepare the Roasted Turkey Breast in advance, prepare the recipe as written through rubbing the herb butter all over the turkey. Allow the turkey to air-chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours – this will create crispier skin too! Remove the turkey breast from the fridge 60 minutes before cooking and then proceed with the recipe.
HOW Long is Turkey Breast Good For?
Leftover Oven Roasted Turkey Breast can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How do I reheat Oven Roasted Turkey?
-Microwave: microwave individual portions for 30 seconds followed by 10-second intervals as needed.
-Oven: transfer slices to an oven-safe dish with a splash of broth or water. For extra decadent juiciness, dot the slices with butter. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or until warmed through.
-Skillet: Add turkey slices to a skillet with a splash of water or broth. Cover and cook on low until warmed through.
Can I freeze turkey breast?
Yes, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast freezes very well! Remove the turkey from the bone, tightly wrap the meat in plastic wrap, then freeze in freezer bags. Press out as much air from the bags as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Looking for more Holiday main dish Recipes?
Classic Herb Roasted Whole Turkey
Honey Baked Ham
Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Mom’s Pot Roast
Maple Glazed Ham
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- 6-8 pound bone-in, skin-on, brined turkey breast, THAWED, (two breasts still joined at the breast bone)
- 12 garlic cloves smashed with side of knife
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 handful fresh poultry blend herbs (like thyme, rosemary and sage)
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 TBS EACH garlic powder, paprika, dried rosemary, dried parsley, salt
- 1 tsp EACH dried thyme, dried oregano, onion powder, ground cumin, pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons reserved Herb Butter divided, in directions
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (more or less as needed with drippings)
- chicken bouillon to taste (optional)
BRING TO ROOM TEMPERATURE
- Remove the turkey from the packaging and place it on a cutting board. Pat the turkey completely dry with paper towels. Let it sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the pan and make the herb butter and spread it over the turkey anytime in the 60-minute window (directions below).
- In the center of a 9×13 baking dish, or similar roasting pan, layer the garlic, sliced onion, oranges and fresh herbs. Pour 1 cup chicken broth into the pan (If preparing the turkey ahead of time and refrigerating, add broth just before roasting).
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
MAKE and apply HERB BUTTER
- Mix all of the Herb Butter ingredients together in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Transfer 2 tablespoons to another small bowl to use later in the gravy.
- Gently loosen the skin of the turkey with the help of the upside of a spoon. Gently run your fingers between the skin and the meat to separate, taking care not to tear the skin. Spread about 2/3 of the butter under the skin of the turkey breasts (⅓ per breast), then gently press on the top of the skin to spread the butter to the edges. Rub the remaining butter all over top the turkey breast skin.
- Transfer the turkey breast to the prepared pan BREAST/SKIN SIDE UP. You may need to move the onions/oranges around to stabilize it. You can even add more slices if needed to balance the breast.
- STOP HERE FOR MAKE AHEAD OPTION. The turkey can be left tented with foil and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge 60 minutes before cooking then proceed with recipe.
ROAST THE TURKEY
- Roast the turkey SKIN SIDE UP, uncovered, at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Baste with juices from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Continue to roast, uncovered, basting every 20 minutes for the first hour, then stop basting so the skin can get crispy (or don't baste at all for the crispiest skin).
- Roast until the center or thickest portion registers between 155-160 on an instant read thermometer (or I’m obsessed with my digital meat probe thermometer (as seen in the video). COVER the turkey with foil when it becomes golden to your taste, at any point during the cook time. Allow 15-20 minutes per 1 lb. of turkey. (Always start checking early!) My 7 pound turkey took 2 ½ hours.
- Transfer turkey to a cutting board. Let rest, UNCOVERED (so the skin doesn’t get soggy), for 15 before carving. Meanwhile, make the Gravy:
- Add the drippings from the pan (remove whole herbs, onions, oranges and garlic) to a gravy fat separator cup to skim off the fat when poured. OR if you don’t have one, add the drippings to a large freezer bag and allow the fat to separate to the top. Seal the bag and hold over a 3+ liquid measuring cup so that one bottom corner tip is facing down into the measuring cup like a spout. Make a small cut in this corner with scissors. The bottom liquid will flow through the cut, stop when you reach the fat.
- Add enough chicken broth to the drippings in the measuring cup to equal 2 ½ cups.
- Add 3 tablespoon unsalted butter and ONE tablespoon reserved Herb Butter to a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the combined 2 ½ cups drippings/broth. Bring to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency, whisking constantly. If it becomes too thick at any point, whisk in additional broth.
- The gravy will vary from turkey to turkey because we are using the dripping from a pre-brined turkey, so, the amount of extra seasonings relies on YOU. Taste and add additional reserved butter if desired for more flavor. If the gravy needs more salt, I suggest starting with chicken bouillon, ¼ teaspoon at a time (up to 1 teaspoon), before salting to taste. Season with pepper to taste.
- Turkey breast: One whole bone-in turkey breast are two breasts still attached at the breast bone, with the legs and wings removed (also called the turkey crown) and weigh 5 to 8 pounds. Sometime they are labeled “Turkey breast with ribs, back portion, wing portion, etc.” Half turkey breast or split turkey breast is just one side of the breast and is much smaller, usually only 3 pounds (not what we want). Most grocery stores sell bone-in turkey breast year-round. You’ll either find them in the chest coolers or in the butcher’s display case. In either location, they will likely be frozen, so make sure to plan enough time to thaw your bird.
- Thaw the turkey breast properly. Never cook your turkey breast from frozen or partially frozen or it will cook unevenly and portions will dry out. As a rule of thumb, plan on AT LEAST 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. For a quick thaw, submerge the turkey (in packaging) in cold water and allow 30 minutes for every 1lb of turkey. Change the water every 30 minutes. This means an 8 pound turkey will take 4 hours using this method.
- Use a meat thermometer! You NEED an instant read meat thermometer for roasting a turkey breast – this is NON-NEGOTIABLE. You can pick up an inexpensive instant read thermometer at any grocery store or Target, Walmart – most places should carry them, or there is always Amazon. Instead of an instant thermometer, I’m obsessed with my digital meat probe thermometer (as seen in the video). You stick the probe in the turkey (or any protein, I use it for chicken, steak, pork, etc. every day) and set an alert for the finished temperature, walk away and it will beep when ready! This will guarantee perfectly cooked juicy turkey every time!
- Always check the turkey breast early. Turkey shape, size, brine, type of pan, exact oven, can all affect the cooking time, so make sure you check the temperature early and then continue roasting as needed.
- Make ahead instructions: To prepare the Roasted Turkey Breast in advance, prepare the recipe as written through rubbing the herb butter all over the turkey. Allow the turkey to air-chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours – this will create crispier skin too! Remove the turkey breast from the fridge 60 minutes before cooking and then proceed with the recipe.
- To store: Leftover Oven Roasted Turkey Breast can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To freeze: Remove the turkey from the bone, tightly wrap the meat in plastic wrap, then freeze in freezer bags. Press out as much air from the bags as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: Microwave individual portions for 30 seconds followed by 10-second intervals as needed or warm in the oven in an oven-safe dish with a splash of broth or water. For extra decadent juiciness, dot the slices with butter. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or until warmed through. To warm in the skillet, add a splash of water or broth. Cover and cook on low until warmed through.
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