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roasted turkey breast in a pan with gravy equipment and ingredients in the background

Easy Roasted Turkey Breast

We’ll teach you how to cook a turkey breast in this delicious Easy Roast Turkey Breast recipe, which works great for a family meal or holiday. Slathering on a compound butter and stuffing the bird with aromatics infuse flavor in the meat while adding complexity to a pan gravy you’ll whip up at the end.

Yield: 6-8 servings (about 1 lb per person) 1x
Prep: 30 minutes (+30 minutes rest time)Cook: 1 -1.5 hoursTotal: 2 - 2.5 hours
Scale:

Ingredients

For the Turkey:

  • 1 (6-8 lb) whole turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on, trimmed of excess fat*
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (sub: olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 small onion, quartered and peeled
  • 12 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 12 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch or handful of fresh parsley
  • Optional: a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage

For Gravy: 

  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth (and more as needed)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper

*Note: We tested this recipe with Honeysuckle and Butterball brands, which are already pre-brined (i.e. filled with a salty solution). Check your turkey label to see if it already has an added salty solution. Most do, but if not, be sure to liberally salt the outside and inside of the turkey cavity with Kosher salt. Alternately, brine your turkey breast ahead of time using these instructions.

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Instructions

1. Prep the Turkey:

  • Set a rack inside a large roasting pan or 9×12 inch casserole dish. (Tip: A rack from an Instant Pot works.)
  • Remove and dispose of the packaging and gravy packet inside the turkey breast, if there is one.
  • Set the turkey on top of the rack and pat very dry on all sides with paper towels.
  • Leave the bird out on the counter for about an hour so it can come up to room temp.

2. Make the Compound Butter: In a small bowl, stir together the softened butter, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.

3. Prep the Oven: Arrange the top oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

4. Butter the Bird: Using your fingers, carefully pull the skin away from the turkey breast on both sides, slowing working your fingers down between the skin and meat until separated (take your time so the skin doesn’t tear). Then place a spoonful–about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons–of the compound butter under the skin on both sides. Pull the skin up and over the breast. Use your fingers on top of the skin to move the butter around to evenly distribute. Use the rest of the compound butter–about 1-2 tablespoons–to rub all over the bird on the top and bottom. Just do your best–it’s messy, fun, and imperfect!

5. Stuff the Bird: Make sure the turkey is breast-side up on the rack. Add the broth to the bottom of the pan. Stuff the inside of the turkey cavity with the onion, carrots, celery, parsley, and optional herbs or garlic cloves. Place any extra veggies you can’t fit into the bird in the bottom of the pan. (This will create flavor for the gravy!)

6. Roast the Bird: Roast the turkey at 425°F for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325°F and continue roasting until the bird reaches 160°F internally, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Use a digital meat thermometer to check the temp in the thickest part of the breast in several places. Transfer the turkey to a wooden cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes. 

7. Make the Gravy: 

  • Meanwhile, place a strainer over a medium saucepan (or your Instant Pot) and carefully strain the drippings from the bottom of the pan into it, leaving the solids behind (see Cooking Notes). 
  • Whisk in the broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. 
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water until smooth. Whisk this cornstarch slurry into the sauce and simmer, continually whisking until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat, taste, and season with more salt and pepper, as needed. If it’s too salty, whisk in a little water and bring to a boil again. (Depending on the kind of turkey you bought, the gravy can be pretty salty! So adjust accordingly.)

8. Carve and Serve: Cut along one side of the breastbone with a sharp knife, then the other, cutting each breast off the bone, and keeping the skin intact. Thickly slice each breast crosswise and serve on a large platter. Garnish with fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme (are you singing the Simon and Garfunkel song too?). Serve the warm gravy in a gravy boat on the side. 


Notes/Tips

  • How to Thaw a Turkey Breast: The turkey breast must be completely thawed to safely and evenly cook in this recipe. Here are two ways to thaw your turkey:
    • Refrigerator: Thawing in the refrigerator takes 1 day per 4 lbs according to America’s Test Kitchen, so you’ll need 2-3 days for a bird the size in this recipe. Be sure to set the packaged turkey in a dish to catch any drips. 
    • Cold Water Method: For a faster thawing process, submerge the sealed, packaged turkey in a large pot, bowl, or sink in cold water. Change out the cold water every 30 minutes (which keeps the bird from growing dangerous bacteria). This method will take 30 minutes per pound, so plan on 3 hours for a 6-lb bird or 4 hours for an 8-lb bird.
  • Safety Note: Be sure to wash your hands well after touching the turkey every time, so you avoid cross contamination on other surfaces. Also, disinfect any surfaces that the turkey touched.
  • Brining a Turkey – If your turkey breast is all natural (not brined or filled with a solution), then try brining the turkey yourself using this method. Or just liberally salt and pepper the outside and inside of the turkey.
  • What to Do with Leftover Turkey and Gravy: Make our Turkey Stuffing Casserole with any leftovers. You can even prep and freeze it before baking using our freezer meal instructions. 
  • Make Turkey Stock: Make bone stock with your leftover carcass and veggies using our Turkey Broth recipe. Make it on the stove or in the crockpot or Instant Pot.
© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: American Method: Oven