Roasted turkey breast is one of my favorite dishes, not only for Thanksgiving, and I am constantly experimenting with new cooking techniques and flavors for it. This recipe is definitely one of the best roasted turkey breast recipes I’ve ever tried. Ah, the wonders that garlic, butter and fresh herbs do to lean white poultry meat…
Prepared this way, the breast meat comes out of the oven very tender and moist, which is a huge accomplishment with such a lean type of meat. The aromas of roasted garlic and herbs are irresistible, so be prepared to be uncontrollably cutting pieces off and devouring them, as if you just came off a hunger strike, before the turkey breast makes it to the dinner table.
Injecting turkey breast with infused butter for ultimate flavor
In this recipe a turkey breast is injected with butter infused with garlic and herbs. Did that make the meat taste greasy? Not at all! The butter made the lean meat taste extremely tender and moist, without greasiness. Besides, a lot of the butter will run out to the bottom of the pan, before and during roasting, so there won’t be a whole lot left in the meat. However, the buttery juices at the bottom of the pan proved to be so flavorful and delicious that we couldn’t resist using it as a dipping sauce.
Turkey breast roasting temperature
The oven roasting temperature of 325F was chosen on purpose. As I mentioned in my Slow Baked Chicken Breast post, I had experimented a lot before arriving at what I think is the optimal oven temperature for baking chicken breasts. Turkey breasts are not that much different and for them I use the same temperature.
Similarly, higher temperatures will dry out turkey breast meat. I would not go higher than 325F degrees. This temperature helps the meat retain its moisture and prevents it from drying out too quickly. Lower baking temperature doesn’t really add any other additional benefits.
Optimal final turkey breast temperature
I used to cook my turkey breasts to 165F and was quite happy with the results. After reading ThermoWorks’ blog post on correct chicken cooking temperature and doing some additional research, I changed my approach. I now cook lean turkey breast meat to 155F and love the much improved results.
155F is the temperature at which I get the exact texture that I enjoy. You may choose to go a little lower or higher depending on preference, and that’s absolutely fine. Note that if a turkey breast is pulled out of the oven at 155F the internal temperature will continue rising to about 165F. If you have a BBQ thermometer like many of us do, use it! If not, get one! Something like a ThermoPro TP08 is a great, inexpensive tool every home kitchen will benefit from.
Looking for more great turkey breast recipes? Check these out:
- 1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs)
- 8 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp rosemary (fresh, finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp dry thyme (finely ground)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (finely ground)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, garlic, rosemary, pepper and thyme.
- Microwave the ingredients on high for 1 minute, or until the butter has fully melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave oven. Mix all ingredients really well and set aside for 5 minutes so the butter gets infused with the garlic and herbs.
- Return the bowl back to the microwave oven and cook the mixture on high for another 30 seconds to ensure that the butter is fully liquefied.
- Strain the butter mixture through a fine sieve. Save the garlic and the herbs.
- Place the turkey breast in a baking dish, skin side up. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent the butter from accidentally squirting all over the kitchen. Fill the kitchen injector with the strained butter and inject the breast all over, in a diamond pattern, releasing about 1/4 - 1/3 of an ounce at a time.
- Add the garlic and herbs that you saved earlier. Rub the garlic and herb mixture and the butter from the bottom of the baking dish all over the turkey breast.
- Evenly sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt all over the breast and pat it down to make sure the salt sticks.
- If using a BBQ thermometer (highly recommended), insert the probe into the thickest part of the turkey breast and connect to the thermometer.
- Bake at 325F for about 1 hour or so, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 155F. Brush the top of the breast with pan juices about 1 hour into roasting.
- Remove from the oven and let the roasted turkey breast rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
1. Bake the turkey breast until internal temperature reaches about 10 degrees below the final temperature.
2. Brush the top of the breast with pan juices.
3. Turn on the broiler to low.
4. Continue cooking with the broiler function turned to low until the turkey breast's internal temperature reaches target temperature. Make sure to keep a close eye on your turkey breast during broiling to prevent burning. If you see the skin has browned enough and the internal temperature has not hit the target, switch back from broil to bake, and cover the breast with foil.
Thank you!!! The best Turkey or breast I’ve ever made! I used all of your measurements but I had 8 lb. . whole Turkey breasts. The butter and herbs were plenty. I used to put butter, lemon, garlic and herbs under the skin. It was good, but infusing it was EVERYTHING! So good!
Glad to hear it. Enjoy!
Third year using yourr idea! We do two turkey breasts. One baked and one smoked. Favorite of our family.
Happy to hear it, Donna. Enjoy!
Simply delicious! Doubled the recipe for two 2.75 lbs bone in turkey breasts, and they came out tender and tasty.( I did add to my roasting dish about 1/2 cup of broth, together with 1 sprig fresh rosemary, sprig of sage and thyme, half an orange sliced thinly to add some more flavor to the drippings for my gravy.) I will definitely use this recipe again. Thank you!
Sheri, you are very welcome and I am happy that you liked my recipe. Thank you for the kind words. Happy cooking!
I plan on cooking my 1st whole turkey this thanksgiving; 20lbs. What changes would I need to make for this recipe ? I’m a newbie cook so hoping I can make this recipe since this looks so delicious !
Thank you for any feedback.
Hi Vanessa, I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing but haven’t yet so I can’t really be 100% certain… that said, I’d definitely butterfly the turkey, it cooks way better than whole… cut along the backbone… triple/quadruple the herb butter and roast the turkey a little longer… no way to tell how long exactly but use a BBQ thermometer (the one with probes) to alert you when the internal temperature reaches the target temp. Cook to 155F in the thickest past the breast and let rest for 10 minutes and it will be fantastic. The legs/thighs/wings will be 185F or so, that’s perfect for those parts. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.
If I don’t have an injector what do you recommend
Well, injected butter definitely makes a difference to white turkey meat… but you still can cook as is, without injecting, with all that butter in the baking dish and it will be fine. Just don’t overcook. If you have the time, brine that turkey breast. It will add flavor and make the meat juicy… coupled with the herb butter, it will be the bomb.
Can I still use this recipe on a 20lb turkey?
Annalisa, I don’t see why not. I’ve done myself. The only thing is I butterflied my turkey (cut along the backbone) so it cooks more evenly. Turned out fantastic.
Thank you!! I took your advice and spatchcocked it! Praying it turns out with my massive turkey! 😁
Good luck. I am sure it will turn out great.
This recipe looks amazing. Do you think you could it with Cornish Game Hens? And if so, any suggestions on how to modify the cooking time and temp? Thank you!!
Valerie, I think this recipe will work great with cornish hens. I like to roast them at a higher temp so they don’t dry out, so 425F for about 45-55 min, or until the internal temp hits 165F. Good luck!
I want to do this same recipe but with turkey legs and thighs what Internal temperature do u recommend would it still be 155
I always cook my chicken/turkey legs and thighs to 185F – 190F. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and still very moist unlike white meat. At below 185F I find that dark meat is a little tough and feels undercooked.
This was the perfect Turkey dinner for my boyfriend and I’s Christmas Dinner for two. We’ve made it twice since and absolutely love it!
My husband and I are newlyweds and this was our first year hosting Thanksgiving. Our family loved the turkey!! Will definitely be making this recipe again.
Very happy to hear that, Allison. Congratulations on your wedding!
would you recommend dry brine-ing the turkey a day in advance?
Roxy, it takes a couple of days to properly dry brine poultry, I would go with wet a wet brine instead in this case. If you brine, remember to adjust the salt in the recipe. I wrote about brining, including dry brining (at the end of the post). You may find that helpful.
I want to know if I have a 7lb breast do I triple cooking time?
The standard is 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F, to an internal temperature of 165F. That’s a rough approximation. To make things really easy, get one of these BBQ thermometers. They make cooking almost too easy. I have two, one for kitchen and one for backyard cooking.
Last year I cooked this recipe for Friendsgiving, my holiday work party, and thanksgiving. Both groups are requesting I do it again this year! Old coworkers even texting me for the recipe. I can’t wait to do it again this year. I never loved turkey until I made it this way!!
Can I do the injection/coating the night before and then roast the next day?
Yes, you can. It will work just as well.
What if I Wanted to do a whole turkey?
I haven’t done a whole turkey using this recipe but I don’t see a reason why you couldn’t. I would most likely butterfly (spatchcock) it, as it will cook more evenly and faster that way, and will have even browning across all top surface.
I used this recipe to roast turkey breasts for Thanksgiving and it was AMAZING. Do you think this would have equally awesome results in a smoker?
Never tried this in a smoker so can’t really comment but sounds like a great idea.
I don’t comment often but I needed to thank you for this great roasted turkey breast recipe!! My family enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got it saved as a favorite to make again in the future.
Can I use the drippings in the casserole dish to make gravy or will it be too greasy or buttery, any tips how to make it?
No, it wont’ be. Best gravy is made with butter.
Can this recipe work for a boneless turkey breast?
Yes, it will work with a boneless turkey breast. The bone protects the meat and keeps it moist, and so does the skin. You may find that boneless is a little less moist but that’s nit picking.
I’m cooking a 6 lb double turkey breast. Do u recommend putting it in a v rack or breaking it down and putting in a casserole dish?
I would recommend breaking it up into two parts and bake in a casserole dish, leaving some space between the parts.
If i am cooking 2 turkey breast in the same pan, would I double the time? Or use the same time listed?
Just because there will be more cold meat in the oven initially, I’d say the time will increase but not by much.
The recipe doesn’t say… do I need to use a roasting pan or can I just place it in a casserole dish?
A casserole dish will work perfectly well.
Should the turkey breast be placed on a roasting rack?
I don’t put on a rack.
Not a bad turkey breast recipe at all. I made it last year and plan on making it for this Thanksgiving again.
Made this turkey breast on Valentine’s (for the third time already) as both I and my hubby love it. The flavors are amazing and the meat is so succulent.
Hi – I’m thinking of trying your recipe! Does the baking dish need to be covered with foil while turkey is cooking ?
No, you bake uncovered. You only cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much before the internal temperature hits the target. I personally never needed it.
I usually don’t leave comments after making a recipe but this one deserves 10 stars ***** I made it tonight and everyone could not stop saying how delicious it was. Thank you! This is my Thanksgiving meal fron now on.
Hi Claudia! Thank you for taking time and posting your feedback. Your comment truly made my day! Come back again, I have several more really good turkey breast recipes I’ve been working on and will be posting them in time for next Thanksgiving (probably much sooner than that).
How would the cooking time/method change if I am using boneless turkey breasts?
The cooking method should be the same, but the time may change a little. I never tested this so this only my speculation, but I would assume the cooking time will be slightly shorter. This is because you have a flatter piece of meat with a better contact with the bottom of the pan which allows for a more efficient heat transfer. If you have a BBQ thermometer (with a probe) use it and let the alarm tell you when its ready. Or insert a turkey thermometer and keep checking frequently.
Hi Victor, if I get a 5 lb turkey breast, should I just double the recipe for the remaining items and double the cook time?
Hi Melissa. Yes, with breast meat it’s a 1 to 1 scale. If you double the breast you would want to double the amount of infused butter.
As far as the cooking time goes, I don’t think it will necessarily double, though I’ve never tested myself. Most likely it will increase by about 20-30 minutes or so based on typical turkey breast roasting time tables. I’d say use a BBQ thermometer with a probe that will alert you – this is the easiest, or keep checking with an instant read thermometer.
I made this last year for Friendsgiving and everyone loved it. I want to make it this year but with a 14lb turkey. Would I just Times the recipe by 7?
Hi Shaina, glad to hear that. I think multiplying by 7 would be a bit too much as with a whole turkey you get a lot of bones and wings/thighs/drums won’t take or need as much butter. I would say 3 (maybe 4) times the original recipe would be sufficient. If you feel it’s not enough you can always make more infused butter, it doesn’t take long to do that, but I feel you won’t be needing more.
Do you think the results would be as good with a large turkey breast- like 10/12 lbs? Thinking about this for thanksgiving. Thanks!
Hm, 10-12 lbs for a breast – that’s a seriously big bird. I don’t think there will be a big difference in results, if any, but the roasting time will be longer. I assume you are talking about a full breast here – two half breasts. I would make sure they are separated and cook them side by side with some space in between. Also, try to flatten them with your fist or a cast iron pan to get a more or less uniform thickness and you should be good to go.
Do you think this would dry out if sliced and left in juices on the warm setting of a Crock-Pot? It would be prepared a few hours before serving.
Meat starts to lose moisture at a high rate after it reaches 150F. It starts to shrink and squeeze water out. Crockpot’s warm setting maintains the temperature of 145F-165F or 165F-175F, depending on the source. If left at in this temp range for a few hours breast meat will definitely lose quite a bit of moisture. Those buttery juices will mitigate the problem to a point. I would keep it in the crockpot whole and slice before serving if possible.