by Olena

Roast Turkey Breast

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 3 votes

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Roast Turkey Breast that’s wonderfully tender and juicy inside with flavorful herby crispy skin. It’s simple to prepare and is the perfect whole turkey holiday alternative for smaller families!

Baked turkey breast is perfect for Thanksgiving and other Holiday festivities- serve alone or alongside boneless leg of lamb, baked chicken breast, and/or baked salmon in foil!

Roast Turkey Breast on a platter with knife and fresh cranberries and garnish

Roast Turkey Breast

As someone who enjoys ground turkey year round, it feels a bit funny writing ‘it’s turkey season!’ but … it’s turkey season! This oven roasted turkey breast bone in is tender and juicy with crispy, flavorful skin and a fuss free main for any holiday, gathering, or roast dinner!

With this baked turkey breast method, you won’t have to worry about dry turkey again. Not only will you achieve wonderfully tender, juicy results every single time you can use the drippings to prepare a rich turkey gravy!

Want to save your oven space for all your delicious sides? You might enjoy this Instant Pot turkey breast recipe or turkey meatloaf!

Why Make Oven Roasted Turkey Breast?

  • Faster cooking time: Turkey plus gravy in less than 2 hours, far less than a whole turkey!
  • Versatile seasonings: I used a rosemary, paprika, and garlic seasoned butter, but don’t stop there! Sage lemon, cajun, smoky maple all can be used. 
  • Seasoned butter: Flavorful oven roasted turkey breast is restaurant quality due to flavorful herby, garlicky seasoned butter.
  • Perfectly cooked: No dry turkey here due to a tried and tested oven roasted turkey breast method with crispy skin!
  • Meal prep friendly: Prepare the seasoned butter and turkey in advance and store covered in the fridge until ready to cook on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Minimal prep: Just 10 minutes of hands on prep and no need to brine!
turkey breast finished from oven

Ingredients for Roasted Turkey Breast

  • Bone-in turkey breast: With the skin on. Use fresh or frozen and fully thawed. Boneless turkey breast (or mesh pouch turkey) requires a slightly different method.

If you plan on using frozen turkey breast, ensure you leave at least a day and a half for the turkey to thaw in the fridge before cooking! Once thawed, you can keep it in the refrigerator for several days before roasting it.

  • Butter: Use softened butter for easy rubbing. Alternatively, olive, avocado, or grapeseed oil would work for this roast turkey breast.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is best as it becomes wonderfully buttery and mellow when roasted. However, use garlic powder (about two teaspoons) in a pinch.
  • Seasonings: I used dried rosemary, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper for a simple but flavor-packed baked turkey breast. Keep reading below (optional add-ins section) for more seasoning/herb options.
  • Water: You’ll also need water to place in the roasting pan and help ‘steam’ in the oven to keep the turkey wonderfully juicy. If you want to use any turkey drippings for gravy, I recommend using chicken broth/stock in place of water.

If you’re able, I recommend using fresh herbs (I love fresh rosemary) when making your holiday oven roasted turkey breast! They infuse into the meat better and you can freeze fresh herbs in ice cube trays topped with oil to reduce wasting leftover herbs.

ingredients for turkey breast roast

How to Roast a Turkey Breast

There is a full recipe card below.

  • The pre-prep: First, preheat the oven to 450F. Then rinse and pat dry the turkey breast before transferring it to a large roasting dish. If needed, use a small pairing knife or shears to trim any excess fat from the turkey breast.
  • Prepare the butter topping: In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, garlic, and all the herbs and seasonings (I used smoked paprika, rosemary, and salt and pepper). Then mix it well to combine thoroughly.
  • Baste the turkey: Using either your hands or a brush, rub the turkey breast with the seasoned butter all around. I like to start from the bottom where the bone is. Make sure to rub it in all the crevices and under the skin. You can pull up the skin on one side (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) to rub some under the skin– then smooth it back down.

In the images, I didn’t fully soften the butter, and it didn’t spread evenly across the turkey (but still tasted delicious). This is because it will firm up when touching the cold turkey skin. It’s best to soften it to the point of almost melting!

  • Place the turkey breast: Skin-side up on a roasting rack that fits over (or in) the baking pan. Then, pour the water (or chicken stock/broth) into the baking pan. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the turkey.

The water in the pan will steam within the oven while cooking and keep the meat wonderfully moist. If you notice at any point that the water has all disappeared, you can top it up but only with HOT water. Adding cold water can crack glass/ceramic dishes (don’t ask me how I know!)

  • Roast the turkey: Transfer the pan to the bottom rack of the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then, loosely cover with foil (or parchment paper- but this is more likely to burn – so keep an eye on it) and bake for a further 70-80 minutes, or until fully cooked through (use thermometer).

When is the turkey roast done? Always check with a meat thermometer. You want to remove the breast from the oven when the internal temperature in the deepest part of the meat reaches 155F. Meat keeps “cooking” while it rests, so roasting till 160F will result in a dry baked turkey breast.

For roasted turkey breast bone-in, I’ve found that you’ll need around 18 minutes of cooking time per lb. at 450F/230C.

  • Rest and slice: Remove the roast turkey breast from the oven and leave it to rest for 20 minutes (for the juices to redistribute/settle). Then slice it against the grain, starting at the breastbone, and enjoy your juicy oven-roasted turkey breast!

While the roast turkey breast rests, you can use the liquid at the bottom of the roasting pan to pull together a delicious turkey gravy with the pan drippings!

Optional Add-Ins and Variations

  • Herbs: Other herbs like thyme, basil, sage, or oregano would also work. Fresh parsley is also great with turkey.
  • Mixed herb option: Instead of using just one herb, you can use a combination. I particularly like combining rosemary, oregano, and thyme with the paprika and garlic.
  • Sage lemon: Combine the softened butter with several Tbsp of fresh sage (or 1/3 amount dried sage), ½ teaspoon paprika, and around a teaspoon of lemon zest. The amounts will vary based on the size of the turkey breast.
  • Cajun turkey breast: Combine the softened butter with Cajun seasoning.
  • Smoky maple glazed: Add 3-5 tbsp maple syrup to the seasoned butter used in this recipe. For mustard maple-glazed turkey, add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, too.
  • Wine: You can add a few tablespoons of dry white wine to the butter mixture for extra flavor.

Tips for Best Results

  • Cook with the skin on: Even if you want to remove it after (though I’m sure you’ll find someone at the table who’s more than happy to enjoy it), it’s best to cook the turkey with the skin on to help lock in the juices and flavor.
  • The cooking time will vary: Based on the size of your turkey breast and your oven. Follow my guidelines for cooking time per lb. of roasted turkey breast (bone-in) and ensure the internal temperature is 155F/68C when removing it from the oven. The residual heat will bring it up to 165F/74C while it rests – so no risk of overcooking the meat.
  • The perfect turkey portion: I recommend planning to serve ¾-1 lb. of turkey meat per person. So choose the turkey breast size based on the number of guests (with extra for delicious leftovers!).
  • Make use of the drippings: They make for the perfect turkey gravy to serve over the oven roasted turkey breast!
  • For extra flavor: Salt the turkey (over and under the skin) at least 30 minutes before (or overnight). Then rub in the butter topping. This gives the salt a chance to permeate the turkey and provide better flavor throughout the meat – while also tenderizing it slightly.
  • Don’t skip the 15 minute rest: During this time, the residual heat will bring it to the correct internal temperature. It will also allow the juices to redistribute for moist and juicy turkey. Use the time to make the turkey gravy!
  • Use a good baking dish: You’ll need one with a rack included or to use a rack that fits over the dish. I recommend a metal pan for this high-heat cooking.
  • Foil vs. parchment paper: The latter is more likely to burn but also won’t leech anything into your food so use which you prefer. Check on the paper often to make sure it isn’t burning, though.

FAQs

Do you roast a turkey breast covered or uncovered?

I’ve found that the perfect method is using both. I first bake it uncovered to crisp up the skin, then cover loosely with foil to lock in all the moisture.

Should I cover my turkey with aluminum foil?

Same answer as the above. I think the perfect method cooks the roast turkey breast uncovered for a short time then covered for the remainder. If you are worried about chemicals in the foil leaching into your food, you could use parchment paper instead.

How many minutes per pound for cooking turkey breast?

You’ll need around 18 minutes of cooking time per 1lb of turkey breast (bone-in). This time will differ for boneless turkey breast. You’ll need around 1 hour for a 3lb bone-in turkey breast.

Is it better to cook a turkey at a lower temperature or higher temperature?

Many methods have you preheat the temperature to a high temperature then reduce the temperature. The idea is to ensure that the skin crisps up without drying out the meat. For this recipe, I’ve found a method for roasted turkey breast bone in that requires no temperature change, using a higher temperature. How? by covering the turkey with foil for a portion of the cooking time it will lock in the juices. Then remove it to crisp up the skin without drying out the meat.

Can I use an oven bag for roasted turkey breast?

You can, though the skin won’t crisp up when using a bag method- since it essentially steams the bird. The cooking time may vary slightly – just make sure to check with a meat thermometer.

Is this method okay to use for boneless turkey breast?

The cooking times will vary when using bone-in vs boneless turkey breast. Follow this method for boneless turkey breast!

Should I brine my turkey breast?

While you can dry-brine or wet-brine the turkey, it’s not necessary for this oven roasted turkey breast method.

Do I need to baste my roasted turkey breast bone in while cooking?

Not with this method. Basting turkey requires lots of oven door opening, which means disturbing the temperature multiple times and leads to everything needing longer to cook. With this method, you still get wonderfully tender juicy middle and crispy skin- no basting required!

turkey breast with mashed potatoes and gravy on a plate

Serving Recommendations

This roasted turkey breast bone in makes for the perfect addition to any Sunday roast or holiday table with all the usual trappings:

For Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter:

You can also browse through my complete list of 50 healthy Thanksgiving recipes for more inspiration!

How to use leftover turkey (ideas):

Making This Recipe in Advance

Make ahead: You can prepare the seasoned butter in advance and even season the turkey in advance, then store it covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

Store: Refrigerate the leftover roast turkey breast slices for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Make sure not to leave the turkey out for more than two hours before it’s placed back in the refrigerator!

Freeze: Allow the baked turkey breast to cool and then portion and transfer to freezer-safe containers/bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Then, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before enjoying.

Reheat: I usually prefer not to reheat roasted turkey breast – as it can dry it out easily. However, if you want to, I recommend placing the turkey slices on a baking tray with a bit of water/broth and wrapping it tightly with foil. Then bake at 325F/160C until heated through. If you’re reheating a large roast turkey breast, allow approximately 10 minutes per lb.

More Turkey Recipes to Try

roast turkey breast recipe on a platter with cranberry and garnish with a knife for cutting
Roast Turkey Breast

Roasted Turkey Breast {SO Juicy!}

Roast Turkey Breast that’s wonderfully tender and juicy inside with flavorful herby crispy skin. It's simple to prepare and is the perfect whole turkey holiday alternative for smaller families!
5 from 3 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 315kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and pat dry turkey breast. Place in a large baking tray that fits a rack. We will season and bake in same dish. Using paring knife or shears, trim fat from turkey breast, if necessary.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • In a small bowl, add softened butter, garlic, rosemary, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Mash and mix with a fork.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Using hands or brush (depends how soft is your butter), rub turkey breast with seasoned butter all around, starting from the bottom with bone side. Make sure to rub the meat part, in the crevices and under the skin well whenever possible.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Make sure turkey breast is side up. Place it on a rack and then put rack inside the baking dish. Pour water on a side.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes on a bottom rack. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 70-80 minutes more or until internal temperature in the deepest part of meat reaches 150 – 155 degrees F when checked with thermometer. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Slice against the grain using a sharp knife.
    Roast Turkey Breast
  • Serve warm with mashed potatoes and gravy.
    Roast Turkey Breast

Make Ahead: You can prepare the seasoned butter in advance and even season the turkey in advance, then store it covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

    Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.

      Freeze: In portions for up to 3 months and use in sandwiches, salads, frittatas, casseroles and soups.

        Reheat: I usually prefer not to reheat roasted turkey breast – as it can dry it out. However, if you want to, I recommend placing the turkey slices on a baking tray with a bit of water/broth and wrapping it tightly with foil. Then bake at 325F/160C until heated through. If you're reheating a large roast turkey breast, allow approximately 10 minutes per lb.

          Notes

          • The cooking time will vary: Based on the size of your turkey breast and your oven. Follow my guidelines for 18 min cooking time per lb. of roasted turkey breast (bone-in) and ensure the internal temperature is 155F/68C when removing it from the oven. The residual heat will bring it up to 165F/74C while it rests – so no risk of overcooking the meat.
          • Roast breast with skin on to keep it moist. It acts as a barrier and insulator for dry poultry. You can always remove it after (but who would want to get rid of crispy skin?! :))
          • Water at the bottom of the pan is to keep oven moist while baking meat. You can also use broth or stock.
          • Make sure to use high heat proof oven baking dish. 450 F is high T. Better to use metal pan.
          • If you use clay or glass baking dish and run out of liquid at the bottom of it and it starts burning, add ONLY hot water. Do not add cold water. I did that and my dish cracked. You don’t want to know what happened after. 🙂
          • If using parchment paper, make sure it is not burning. Mine wasn’t and I prefer it to baking with aluminum foil that leaches harmful chemicals into food when heated. Just saying.
          • Use other dried herbs like thyme, basil, oregano.
          • I recommend to use only fresh garlic as roasted garlic flavor is the best. But if all you have is garlic powder, use about 2 tsp.
          • The perfect turkey portion: I recommend planning to serve ¾-1 lb. of turkey meat per person. So choose the turkey breast size based on the number of guests (with extra for delicious leftovers!).
          • Make use of the drippings: They make for the perfect turkey gravy to serve over the oven roasted turkey breast!
          • For extra flavor: Salt the turkey (over and under the skin) at least 30 minutes before (or overnight). Then rub in the butter topping. This gives the salt a chance to permeate the turkey and provide better flavor throughout the meat – while also tenderizing it slightly.
          See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

          Nutrition

          Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 61g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 651mg | Potassium: 692mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg
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          9 comments on “Roast Turkey Breast

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          1. In the FAQ’s section you say, “I’ve found that the perfect method is using both. I first cover it, to lock in all the moisture. Then, remove the foil/parchment paper so the turkey skin becomes wonderfully crispy.” Yet in the recipe walk through and the recipe listed at the bottom you say, “Bake uncovered for 20 minutes on a bottom rack. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 70-80 minutes more..” This feels like a contradiction in the order of covered vs uncovered oven time.
            Are you suggesting in the FAQ that when the turkey approaches the end of cooking and you’re ready to begin checking the temperature, you can leave the cover off again? Or did the FAQ answer about covered vs uncovered come from another post that involved basting?

            1. Hi Nicole. Recipe card is correct info “Bake uncovered for 20 minutes on a bottom rack. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 70-80 minutes more or until internal temperature in the deepest part of meat reaches 150 – 155 degrees F when checked with thermometer. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.”. Sorry about the confusion – I will fix that!

            1. Can’t use which ingredient? Check the post for the section titled optional add-in’s and variations, there are quite a few suggestions for seasonings.

          2. 5 stars
            I used your recipe to cook a boneless, skin on turkey breast last night. It was perfect. It was only 3 lbs so I modified using the time instructions you provided in a previous post (it would be good if you included that in the notes, so it comes up when the recipe is printed). I don’t use butter, so I substituted with vegan butter, and that seemed to work fine, but the skin didn’t brown up, so I broiled for a few minutes at the end to brown up the skin.

            1. As per recipe – For bone-in turkey breast, cook for 18 minutes per lb at 450 degrees F. For boneless turkey breast, I estimate 12 minutes per pound at 450 degrees F.

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