by Olena

Air Fryer Turkey Breast

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 1 vote

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Air Fryer Turkey Breast is an easy way to cook a small portion of a turkey, with perfectly juicy results, for a smaller holiday crowd. It’s seasoned with a herb infused butter that helps to add moisture, taste and that crispy outer skin!

Who says you need to cook an entire turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas? If you’re looking for something a little different this year, try my juicy boneless turkey breast roast, this Instant Pot turkey breast, or a roast turkey breast.

air fryer turkey sliced on a cutting board with a knife

Air fryer turkey breast is hands down the easiest and fastest way to get perfectly crispy skin without having to use an oven or broiler. If you’ve ever wondered if you have to sacrifice moist juicy meat for that crispy skin when using the air fryer, the answer is a hard no!

This recipe is made by coating the turkey in a simple herb-flavored compound butter and in under 1 hour, you’ll have a deliciously moist, juicy turkey with beautifully crispy skin. Perfect for serving a smaller crowd!

Why Cook Turkey Breast in Air Fryer?

  • Crispy skin: The air fryer is known for its ability to give us crispiness without deep frying and this recipe doesn’t disappoint.
  • Easy: This super easy recipe uses a few basic ingredients blended into a compound butter and then it’s air fried until done!
  • Moist: The meat is still moist and juicy as you’d expect your turkey to be!
  • Fast: In less than an hour, the entire turkey breast is ready to be served. 
  • Great for small crowds: Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to cook a whole turkey!

Ingredients for Air Fryer Turkey Breast

  • Turkey breast: You can use boneless or bone-in breasts for this recipe (with a slight adjustment with timing as noted below). Also, be sure to keep the skin on for maximum flavor and crispy skin.
  • Butter: I use salted butter for this for added flavor. If you’re concerned about it, you can use unsalted. I just think there’s something so yummy about salty crispy skin.
  • Garlic cloves: Garlic and butter go hand in hand in delivering delicious seasoning and taste.
  • Herbs: Dried rosemary and oregano are a great addition and both herbaceous flavors pair well with all kinds of poultry.
  • Salt & pepper: The usual dynamic duo of seasoning to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and add its own.
  • Smoked paprika: This is an optional spice you can add if you enjoy that bit of smoky flavor to your meat.
air fryer turkey breast ingredients herbs and spices garlic butter and boneless turkey

How to Choose the Best Turkey Breast for Air Frying

You know me, I like to buy high-quality meat, usually, free run from a local farm or organic whenever possible. I know that’s not feasible for everyone so there are other things to look at. 

To get the most bang for your buck, you want as much meat as possible. Although be careful, overly large portions can mean they’ve been fed hormones and other GMOs.

Whether you choose bone-in or boneless that’s totally up to you and a personal preference. I do recommend skin-on! Otherwise, what’s the point? 😉

How to Cook Turkey Breast in Air Fryer

  • Prep: Make butter mixture in a small bowl by adding the cubes of butter, dried herbs, salt and pepper, and smoked paprika if you’re using it. Mash together with a fork until well combined. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F.
  • Coat the turkey: Sometimes turkey breast will come wrapped in mesh. Cut it off with scissors and discard it. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. Use your hands and coat the entire surface of the meat with herbed butter. Get both sides and even under the skin.

Removing the net: It’s not all the way necessary, as it won’t burn and is meant to withstand heat. I prefer to remove mine so I can get the butter underneath the skin as well as on top for maximum flavor.

  • Cook the turkey: Place the turkey breast bone side down (which is also the turkey skin side) into the air fryer basket and cook boneless turkey breast for 15 minutes.
  • Flip it over: Once the initial cook time is up, flip it over and continue air frying it for another 10 minutes.

Using bone-in breast? You will want to tack on 5 extra minutes on both sides. 20 minutes on the first side and 15 once you flip it over.

  • Check for doneness: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. It’s ready when it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (this temperature will rise as the turkey settles as seen on my thermometer below).
  • Remove and let rest: Transfer the turkey to a tray or cutting board and tent it with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes allowing the juices to redistribute.
  • Slice and serve: Using a sharp knife, slice as thin or as thick as desired. Serve warm with your favorite side dishes.

Air Fryer Turkey Time Chart

This is a guide for how long to cook a turkey breast depending on its weight. Of course, every air fryer is different and even turkey breast is different, so you always want to use a thermometer for the most accurate reading. If you have an 8-quart air fryer, the max you want to use at once is 4 lbs.

Generally, 1/2 lb. per person is sufficient. Again, this will always depend on how hungry your crowd is, what kind of appetite they’ve got, how many sides you have along with it, etc. It’s a good idea to account for a little extra when serving guests so they can have seconds if they choose. 

  • 2 lbs = Boneless 12 minutes per bound. Bone-in 15 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 4 people). 
  • 3 lbs = Boneless 15 minutes per pound. Bone-in 18 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 6 people).  
  • 4 lbs = Boneless 18 minutes per pound. Bone-in  21 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 8 people).  

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Use fresh herbs instead of dried in the butter. Think about switching up or adding some sage or thyme as well as rosemary and oregano. You can also use whatever your favorite poultry seasoning is.
  • If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, substitute with garlic powder. While you’re add it toss in some onion powder as well.
  • Smoked paprika is a definite bonus, but if you have regular paprika you can use that as well.

Tips for Best Results

  • Use fresh or thawed from frozen: If using frozen turkey breast, make sure it’s completely thawed. Leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • The size of the breast: I used a 2-3 lb turkey breast, but depending on the size of your air fryer you could go up to 4-5 lbs.  
  • Cook time: The size (and whether there’s a bone or not) will determine the precise time to cook it. The only accurate way to check if it’s done is to use a kitchen thermometer.
  • No excess moisture: Be sure to pat dry with paper towels before seasoning. Any added moisture will hinder the crispiness of the skin.
  • The mesh: I like to remove the mesh beforehand, but if you choose to leave it on, remove it gently. Sometimes some of the meat/skin can get stuck to it and that’s no fun.
  • Rest the meat: Allowing it to sit for a while before slicing into it, will help the juices settle and keep them from running out and drying out the turkey.
finished air fryer turkey sliced on cutting board read to eat

FAQs

Can I cook a frozen turkey in air fryer?

You can, but you should really try and thaw it first. If you are going to use a frozen turkey breast, get one that already comes seasoned. Otherwise, you won’t be able to season a plain turkey breast before adding it to the air fryer. Plus, it’s more work. Starting with the foil you need to wrap it in, then unwrapping, then making sure the skin gets as crispy as you want it….it’s not worth it. Thaw your meat!

What should the internal temp of my turkey breast be when finished?

When you remove it from the air fryer, it should read 165 degrees F when tested at the thickest part of breast.

Is it better to use fresh or dried herbs for air fryer turkey breast?

You can use fresh herbs, but for this recipe, it is better to use dried as it is a more concentrated flavour. The dried herbs also help to create a bit of a crust on the skin leading to even more crispness.

Can I air fryer turkey breast fillets or tenderloin?


You bet. The air fryer is great for all different kinds and cuts of meat – chicken breast, chicken wings, salmon and even (for our meatless friends!) tofu. Depending on the size of your fillet/tenderloin, you’ll need to adjust the time.

Can I air fry turkey breast recipe without butter or oil?

If you prefer to use a dry rub on your turkey breast instead of using butter or even oil, you can. The oil/butter helps it to not stick to the basket as well adds flavor and helps with texture, but you can go without. This is especially true if you have an oil-less air fryer that uses hot circulating air to cook the food (like an actual oven) rather than oil. You will need to check it more often and watch for sticking when trying to flip it.

What is the texture of air fryer turkey breast?

Air fryer turkey breast will have the same texture as if it were oven roasted. Moist and tender on the inside, seasoned as you like it, and a golden skin on the outside.

What is the best air fryer for turkey breast?

I’d say using a 5-quart air fryer is big enough to feed about 4 people, which means it’s big enough to hold a turkey breast. The brand isn’t super important as long as it does the job. If you’re wondering, I use a Cosori Air Fryer.

How much turkey breast do I need per person?

I usually aim for about 1 lb per person, with having a little extra for bigger appetites, if someone wants extra, or just to have leftovers to make turkey noodle soup or tetrazzinni. It usually ends up being about half of a breast per person, give or take depending on who you’re serving. I make 2-3 lbs but will cook more in batches if I’m serving a lot of people. Overall, you will even be safe with about 1/2 lb per person, especially when you’re cooking for just a couple of people.

Can I use skinless turkey breast in air fryer?

You can make it, in the same way, I make my air fryer chicken breast. Skinless! Despite my push for that delicious crispy skin, some people just aren’t a fan, and that’s ok. You can absolutely use skinless turkey for this recipe.

How to Carve a Turkey Breast?

sliced and on cutting board with knife air fryer turkey breast

Part of the convenience of just cooking the breast and not the whole turkey is not having to figure out how to actually carve the thing! Carving a turkey breast is super easy, and as you can imagine, much like cutting a chicken breast.

Using a sharp butcher’s knife or chef’s knife will help you get nice thin slices if that’s what you’re after. 

Place the breast on a cutting board. It helps to use a 2 prong meat fork to sturdy it with one hand while you slice with the other. Start at once end and down the breast.  

What to Serve with Air Fried Turkey Breast?

How to Store Air Fryer Turkey Leftovers

Make ahead: If you’re making this recipe for the holidays, save yourself some time and season the turkey breast, cover, and refrigerate it up to 24 hours in advance. Before you add it to the air fryer, bring it to room temperature.

Store: Any leftover cooked turkey breast can be stored in an airtight container for a week. Keep it whole or slice it first, it’s up to you. Cold turkey straight out of the fridge is so good! Use it for salads at lunchtime.

Freeze: Store the cooked turkey in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

More Air Fryer Recipes to Try

air fryer turkey finished in air fryer basked
Air Fryer Turkey Breast

Air Fryer Turkey Breast {Bone-In or Boneless}

Air Fryer Turkey Breast is an easy way to cook a small portion of a turkey, with perfectly juicy results, for a smaller holiday crowd. It's seasoned with a herb infused butter that helps to add moisture, taste and that crispy outer skin!
5 from 1 vote
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: North American Ukrainian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 276kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, add butter, garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until well combined.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • If your turkey breast is in a mesh, cut with scissors and remove. Pat dry with paper towels and rub with herbed butter on both sides and under the skin. Take your time and spread it as best as you can.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • Place turkey breast skin side down in the basket of the air fryer, and cook for 15 minutes – if boneless, 20 minutes – with bone-in.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • Flip it over and continue to air fry for another 10 minutes – if boneless, 15 minutes – with bone-in, or until internal read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165 degrees F.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • Remove turkey breast from air fryer and tent with foil for 10 minutes, allowing meat to rest.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast
  • Slice with sharp knife and serve warm as you wish.
    Air Fryer Turkey Breast

Make ahead: To save time at the holidays, you could 'dress' the turkey breast, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Let it come to room temp, then proceed with air frying.

    Store leftovers: Refrigerate roast whole or sliced in an airtight container for up to a week. It tastes so good cold.

      Freezing: Freeze leftovers sliced or cut into bite sized pieces in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator.

        Notes

        • Air fryer turkey time chart: The size (and whether there’s a bone or not) will determine the precise time to cook it. The only accurate way to check if it’s done is to use a kitchen thermometer. Here are some general cooking times:
          • 2 lbs = Boneless 12 minutes per bound. Bone-in 15 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 4 people). 
          • 3 lbs = Boneless 15 minutes per pound. Bone-in 18 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 6 people).  
          • 4 lbs = Boneless 18 minutes per pound. Bone-in  21 minutes per pound. (Feeds about 8 people).  
        • Fresh rosemary: You could use same amount of finely chopped fresh rosemary.
        • Other herbs: Sage, thyme or oregano would taste delicious. Dried poultry seasoning is a favorite, too!
        • Garlic powder: Can be used in place of fresh, mix it with onion powder for delicious results! 
        • Any paprika: Smoked or sweet can be used. 
        • Use fresh or thawed from frozen: If using frozen turkey breast, make sure it’s completely thawed. Leave it in the fridge overnight.
        • No excess moisture: Be sure to pat dry with paper towels before seasoning. Any added moisture will hinder the crispiness of the skin.
        • The mesh: I like to remove the mesh beforehand, but if you choose to leave it on, remove it gently. Sometimes some of the meat/skin can get stuck to it and that’s no fun.
        • Rest the meat: Allowing it to sit for a while before slicing into it, will help the juices settle and keep them from running out and drying out the turkey.
        See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

        Nutrition

        Serving: 1g | Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 231IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg
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