This Roast Turkey Breast recipe is made with a dreamy garlic herb butter for the most flavorful, juicy meat and crispy skin. It roasts in about 90 minutes and is ready to eat in less than 2 hours.
A roasted turkey breast is perfect for a small family Thanksgiving when you don’t want to cook a whole turkey, or as a secondary entree for a larger holiday gathering. It’s the perfect addition to your holiday spread, served alongside Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Stuffing and the best, from scratch Green Bean Casserole. Don’t forget the Pumpkin Pie Bars for dessert!
Roast Turkey Breast Recipe
Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year for a lot of families. With smaller gatherings becoming the norm, we’re all looking for ways to keep Thanksgiving traditions alive while feeding less people. If you’re wanting to make a whole Thanksgiving turkey, you’re going to have a ton of leftovers so this roast turkey breast is a perfect compromise. Roasted turkey breast is perfect for my small family of 5!
The holidays can get pretty crazy, so having an extra turkey breast on hand can also feed the extra 5 cousins who showed up last minute.
To flavor the meat and keep it juicy and moist, I made a compound butter with flavorful herbs and seasonings and stuffed it underneath the turkey breast skin. This does two things – adds incredible flavor to the meat and helps to crisp up the skin. It’s a trick I learned a while back and I always get amazing results with a Whole Roast Chicken and with my Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a lot of juices pouring off so you can make some creamy turkey gravy!
What size turkey breast should you buy?
Most grocery stores sell turkey breast year round, not just at the holidays. It’s the perfect size for a week’s worth of sandwiches or for adding a few people to the holiday dinner table without having to cook a second turkey. But what kind of turkey should you buy?
For this method, I recommend a bone-in and skin-on turkey breast. The size is dependent on how many people you need to feed. A good gauge is roughly 3/4-1 pound of turkey per person (remember this accounts for the bone as well). A half-breast runs around 3-5 pounds and will feed 3-6 people. A whole turkey breast (two breasts joined at the breast bone) will be about 6-8 pounds and will feed 6-8 people. When there are lots of sides, people tend to eat less of the meat, so if you want to stretch it a little farther make sure you have plenty of Dinner Rolls, Cranberry Orange Sauce and Sweet Potato Casserole to serve with it.
Is it better to roast a turkey breast up or down?
If you want crispy skin, you’re going to roast the turkey breast skin side up. You don’t need a special roasting pan; just a regular 9×13″ baking dish. When roasting a whole turkey, you’ll want to cover the breast with foil because it’s in the oven for twice the amount of time. Since you’re only cooking for about 90 minutes, leave it uncovered with the breast facing up so the skin will get crispy.
What temperature do you roast a turkey breast at?
I’ve tested this recipe a few different ways and with different times and temps. For the best roast turkey breast, roast at 325 degrees F . You’ll get juicy meat and a crispy skin with an incredible flavor. If you need to cook it a little faster, you can raise the temp to 350 degrees and cook for about 15-18 minutes per pound. It should shave about 20 minutes off of the cooking time.
How many minutes should you cook a turkey breast per pound?
The cooking time is based on the weight of the turkey breast and a roasting temp of 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes per pound. We used a whole breast which is typically about 3-6 pounds, but you can also use a whole breast (both sides of the breast) which tends to run about 6-8 pounds. The most important thing is to cook the meat to a safe temperature of 165 degrees. Use a digital meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. I recommend pulling it out of the oven at 160 degrees then covering with foil and letting it rest for 10 minutes before carving. A boneless turkey breast will take about 5-10 minutes less per pound.
Roast a turkey at 325 degrees following the time chart below. Keep in mind these numbers are approximate and could vary based on the actual temperature of your oven.
- 3 pounds – 75 minutes
- 4 pounds – 90 minutes
- 5 pounds – 110 minutes
- 6 pounds – 125 minutes
How to Roast a Turkey Breast
Some people are intimidated by cooking a turkey (I was one of them!) but once you learn how to roast a turkey breast you’ll never fear again!
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. This is a crucial step to ensuring even cooking. Grab a roasting pan or baking dish that is big enough to fit the breast.
- Place the turkey breast in the pan skin side up. Mix softened butter with the herbs and seasoning and reserve a little of it for later. Gently lift up the skin of the turkey breast, making sure to keep it connected to the meat. I recommend using your fingers for this, but you could also use the back of a spoon. Just remember to be gentle. If there is a lot of exposed skin, you can still rub the butter all over to get that yummy flavor everywhere.
- Rub the butter all over the meat under the skin, then smooth the skin down so the butter doesn’t drip out.
- Roast in the oven, uncovered for about 20 minutes per pound. Because oven temps can vary, I recommend checking the meat temp about 20-30 minutes before you think it will be finished just to make sure you don’t overcook it.
How to Carve a Turkey Breast
Let your bird rest for at least 10-15 minutes for the juices to redistribute. This rings true with any kind of meat. The larger it is, the longer it will need. Chicken breasts and steaks will need 5-10 minutes, while a larger turkey breast needs 12-15. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Place the roast turkey breast on a cutting board. I recommend sharpening your knife first, then use it to remove the turkey breast from the bone by sliding the knife along the bone to separate. Once removed, lay the breast, skin side up, on your cutting board. Slice against the grain using a sharp knife.
If using a boneless turkey breast, still let it rest and use a sharp knife. Simply place the breast skin side up on a cutting board and slice against the grain.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Make sure to fully defrost your turkey breast for at least 24 hours in the fridge before roasting. It can stay in the fridge for 2-3 days before you have to cook it.
- Always roast skin side up if you want a nice, crispy skin.
- There is no need to cover with foil as it’s cooking. Leaving it exposed will encourage that crispy skin that you want.
- If the turkey you purchase was brined before being frozen (check the label) you may want to cut the amount of added salt in half so you don’t end up with something too salty. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away.
- Feel free to customize the seasonings to your tastes. Spice it up with a cajun seasoning blend, or add some lemon pepper or lemon zest and fresh parsley.
- Save the pan dripping to make some homemade turkey gray!
Thanksgiving side dishes for serve with roast turkey
Roast Turkey Breast with Herb Butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon Onion powder
- ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
- 8 tablespoons butter 1 stick, room temperature
- 1 bone-in turkey breast 4-5 pounds
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the top rack so only the bottom rack is left in the oven.
- Set turkey breast, skin side up, in a roasting pan or baking dish and pat dry.
- In a small bowl, mash butter and seasonings together. Spoon a couple of tablespoons into another bowl and set aside for later.
- Gently lift up the skin of the turkey breast using a spoon or your fingers, keeping the sides intact. Rub the remaining herb butter all over the breast under the skin. Smooth the skin down over the butter, careful not to tear the skin or the butter will just drip out.
- Roast uncovered for about 90 minutes or until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees F.
- Top with the remaining herb butter and tent with foil. Rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.