This oven roasted turkey breast is so crispy-skinned, so tender and super moist on the inside that it usually gets devoured within 15 minutes in our family. Depending on the breast size, of course. It’s also very flavorful throughout, thanks to the brine it spends a few hours in. There is nothing worse than biting into tasteless, dry flesh. Well, it’s not the case here. Not by a long shot. This recipe is also very easy to make and practically impossible to mess up. If you want to impress your friends and family this coming Thanksgiving, this turkey breast recipe will definitely fit the bill.
The best way to cook a turkey breast
Being a huge a turkey breast aficionado, I love turkey breasts and cook them at least once a month. I stock up when they are on sale and my freezer always has a few on stand by. I like them roasted, marinated, smoked, grilled and cranberry-glazed just to name a few. These are, no doubt, all great ways to cook a turkey breast. However, there is nothing like a tender, juicy, flavorful turkey breast under a crispy, ridiculously tasty, deep golden brown skin. This goodness is achieved by three easy steps:
- Finishing by roasting in the oven
Every time I make it I get a ton of compliments. I am not surprised as this recipe is an adaptation of my very popular Crispy Oven Roasted Chicken Breast recipe.
Brining and seasoning
Brining a turkey breast is a must. If haven’t done it before, brining may sound a little intimidating, but it’s very easy. Just don’t over-do it or else the breast will be a little too salty. I use a flavored brine, this makes the meat all the way inside the breast perfectly salted and seasoned. Brining also adds a ton of delicious moisture to the super lean turkey breast meat. Just look at the picture below, do you see how juicy the meat is? Yummmm! That’s the magic of brining. It will also save the breast if you happen to overcook it a little.
I use surface seasonings sparsely in this recipe. You don’t need too much to get a very flavorful final product. I don’t add dry herbs as they tend to burn during high heat pan frying and ruin the flavor and the appearance.
Searing and roasting in the same skillet makes it a much easier task and results in less cleaning afterwards. Just make sure that you are using an oven-safe skillet. If you don’t have one, roast on a baking sheet lined with foil. You can also fit the baking sheet with a cooling rack to let the oil and skin fat drip down.
Turkey breast cooking time
In my experience, 2-3 lb half-breasts need about 40 minutes at 400F to reach 160F internal temperature. For every extra pound of weight add about 15 minutes of roasting time. Keep in mind that these cooking times are just an approximation and should be used only as a guide. For best results, nothing beats a BBQ thermometer. That’s right, a BBQ thermometer. You see, instant read and regular meat thermometers have a huge drawback – they don’t alert you when the turkey is done. As such, you are very likely to miss the ideal temperature of 160F. Don’t worry, the meat will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, so no need to wait until 165F.
A BBQ thermometer, on the other hand, will be monitoring the temperature throughout the entire cook and will alert you when the turkey breast is cooked. Do yourself a favor and get one of these very popular and very good ThermoPro TP07 single probe or the ThermoPro TP08 dual probe thermometers. No need to run back and forth with an instant read thermometer to catch the right temperature and let the heat out every time you check. There is overcooked or burned meat with a BBQ thermometer.
Looking for more great turkey breast recipes? Check these out:
- Marinated Turkey Breast
- Roasted Turkey Breast with Herb Infused Butter
- Cranberry Glazed Turkey Breast
- 1 bone-in turkey breast
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp granulated onion
- 1 tsp dark chili powder
For the turkey brine:
- 1/2 gallon ice cold water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 carrot (cut in half, then into 2 inch pieces)
- 3 cloves garlic (cut in halves)
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 yellow onion (cut into quarters)
- 1/4 bunch fresh parsley (optional)
- A few bay leaves
- To prepare turkey brine, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in medium pot. Add the salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove the pot from heat, add the rest of the ingredients, stir and let cool to room temperature. If pressed for time, let the vegetables and the spices steep for 10 minutes, then cool down with ice. Remember to account for the extra ice.Combine with the rest of the water and set aside.
- Put the turkey breast in the brine, and refrigerate for two hours for a small breast, 3 hours for a medium and 4 hours for a large turkey breast. Make sure that the breast is fully covered in brine. You can use a bowl or a Ziploc bag.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Dry the breast with a paper towel and rub with olive oil. Season with salt and spices on all sides and gently pat to make the seasonings stick.
- Heat 1/2 cup of cooking oil (you can use olive oil or any other oil you prefer) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the turkey breast skin side down on the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Carefully pour out or wipe off with paper towels all the oil from the pan. Put the breast back in the skillet, bone side down.
- Now put the skillet with the turkey breast in the oven and roast at 400F for about 45 - 75 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, or until internal temperature of the meat reaches 160F.Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.
Hi! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for the great recipe. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.
Thank you. Enjoy!
Can you prepare the Brine ahead of time before using it?
Yes, you can.
Turkey breast was super tender and juicy. I got a ThermoPro thermometer and what an amazing difference in the tenderness of the meat and no more stress about the internal temp check by opening the oven door. I went to their blog like you suggested and tried the dry brining instead https://blog.thermoworks.com/turkey/how-to-dry-brine-a-turkey/ I didn’t have enough room in my fridge for the wet brine option and was running short on prep time. This was the best turkey I have had in ages and your pan seared chicken breast is now my absolute favorite!!!! Keep the recipes coming:) You really are gifted.
Glad to hear it, Ally. Thank you for the kind words. Happy cooking!
Could you please provide cooking time for the same recipe, yet for a boneless turkey breast? Thank you!
Sarah, skin and bone provide quite a bit of protection for the meat so you have to be carefull… To cook boneless and skinless chicken/turkey breasts I roast them at 325F for about 40 – 75 minutes depending on the breast size. I add a 1/4 cup of broth to keep the meat moist. A must for skinless breasts. I use a BBQ thermometer which alerts me when the internal temperature reaches 160F and I pull it out of the oven right away, rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Best turkey recipe ever! So full of flavor and the juiciest meat! Followed the directions step by step. Just had to add some chicken broth to the pan towards the end.
I made this Sunday for my family and followed your recipe step by step and it turned out delicious! Thank you so much!
You are very welcome!
I love this! So delicious and moist. Why did I never think of browning the skin first??? It seems so obvious now. I think I will be cooking turkey breast more often. Thanks
Glad to hear that. We cook turkey breast quite often. It’s lean, healthy and delicious. I have a few other great turkey breast recipes on the blog, check them out.
Do you just discard the vegetables that were in the brine? Too salty to eat????
I love roasted turkey breast and this sound delicious; I’ve never brined one. It’s too soon after Thanksgiving for me to make this so I haven’t tried the recipe, yet!
Yes, I always discard them. There isn’t that much there. Try brining chicken breasts, or legs, or thighs… you will immediately see how much more flavorful they are. Especially lean breast meat. Start with 1-2 hours of brining and see how you like it. Under-bined is definitely better than over-brined (too salty). Tastes differ, some like it saltier some less salty. I’ve always liked less salty food.
Do you put foil on the turkey when you put it in the oven?
Hi Audry, not I don’t. It’s not needed to be honest and I am sure you will appreciate the crispy skin.