It's almost Thanksgiving, but not quite. It doesn't matter. This cranberry glazed turkey breast recipe is so good that I make it several times a year, Thanksgiving or not. I've perfected this recipe to the point where a turkey breast comes out of the oven so juicy, and so moist that it's hard to believe that super lean turkey breast meat can be like that. It's a must-try recipe if you like turkey breast meat.
Another cool thing about this turkey breast recipe is that no brining or injecting is needed. And the turkey is cooked at a higher temperature of 375F. I wouldn't normally go higher than 325F when baking chicken or turkey breast, especially when cooking skinless breasts. But in this recipe, the turkey breast meat is protected by skin and a thick layer of cranberry sauce. The risk of meat drying out during baking is much smaller.
Brining or injecting is also good for flavoring the meat inside out. Since we are not doing that in this recipe, I add some chicken broth and butter in the baking dish to create a dipping sauce that can be used later with the meat. The broth and the butter also help keep the meat hydrated during baking and keep it from drying out.
Another thing that I do differently in this turkey breast recipe is that I bake the turkey breast to 155F. Why not the USDA recommended 165F? Well, let me refer you ThermoWorks' Cooking Chicken to the Correct Temperature blog post. When I stumbled upon their post and did some additional research on this I realized that I'd been cooking my chicken and turkey incorrectly all along! I changed my approach and my chicken and turkey breasts now taste so much better. I could cook the meat to an even lower temperature, but personally, I like how the meat tastes at 155F. Pulled at this temperature, its super tender and moist.
That said, if you want to stay on the conservative side, bake your turkey breast to the recommended 165F. There is nothing wrong with that.
Besides, keep in mind that once you pull the turkey breast out of the oven its internal temperature will continue to rise by as much as 10 degrees. I pulled the turkey breast the in picture below at 155F and it finally stopped at 164F.
I used to love and praise my indispensable ThermoWorks Thermapen instant read thermometer, and use it while baking or roasting meat all the time. Not anymore! Not so long ago I've got into a habit of using my ThermoWorks thermocouple BBQ thermometer when cooking in the oven. It's super convenient. I set the target temperature and it beeps to alert me when the food is ready, helping me avoid overcooking and saving me the effort of opening the oven multiple times to check the temperature.
If you have a BBQ thermometer give it a try in the kitchen oven. It will make your cooking much easier and stress free. It's perfect for using with this turkey breast recipe. If you don't have one, something like ThermoPro TP08 will be a great investment for kitchen use.
For the cranberry glaze not to be too dry, I split it in half and use the first half before I put the meat in the oven, and the other half about 15 minutes before the meat is done. I also sometimes cover the baking dish with foil at this time. This way I get a nice, thick layer of glazing on my turkey breast. If you want the glaze to be thin and caramelized, put all of the glazing on at the beginning and don't foil unless the meat starts to brown too much.
Looking for more great turkey breast recipes? Check these out:
- 1 turkey breast (about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs, skin on, bone removed)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth (at room temperature)
- 4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
For cranberry glaze:
- 1.5 cups cranberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or malt vinegar)
- Preheat oven to 375F
- To make the cranberry glaze, combine cranberries, honey (or maple syrup) and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries pop and become very soft, and the liquids start to thicken.
- Remove the mix from the stove and pour into a sieve placed over a bowl.
- Using a spatula, push the pulp of the mix through the sieve and into the bowl, leaving skins and seeds behind. Set aside.
- Now prepare the turkey breast. If the turkey breast has a bone, using a boning knife carefully remove the bone and discard it. Place the turkey breast into a baking dish. Prepare the spices.
- Evenly rub the spices and salt all over the turkey breast. Pour the chicken broth into the baking dish. Put one small piece of butter on each of the walls of the baking dish.
- Spread half the glaze over the top and sides of the turkey breast.
- If using BBQ thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast.
- Place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven, and spread the rest of the cranberry glaze over the meat. Cook for about 15 minutes more, or until the meat is fully done (internal temperature at the thickest part should read at least 155F). If you want the glaze to be softer and less caramelized, cover with foil during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board or platter and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes. Carve and serve with your favorite side dish or steamed vegetables.
- Save the juices from the baking dish, they are delicious. Use them to make gravy or use them as a dipping sauce for turkey meat or side vegetables.
This recipe was updated on October 1, 2017.