Herb Butter Turkey Breast is the ultimate holiday centerpiece. Bursting with herb garlic flavor, this smaller cut of turkey is great for a smaller crowd. It’s ready in less time than a whole bird, too! Learn my tips and tricks to roasting the best turkey breast. Makes 1 turkey breast.
When we had a nuclear family Thanksgiving in 2020, I got really comfortable roasting a bone-in turkey breast.
I also had to test the recipe a few times before Thanksgiving because I’m a food blogger.
Because as much as I love my people, I didn’t want to make a whole turkey. We’re a smaller group, so a turkey breast was perfect for us and still provided some leftovers without being excessive.
Why I love this recipe:
You know how turkey breast meat can get really dry really quickly? This simple recipe is juicy as ever and wonderfully flavorful.
And that flavor is thanks to the Rosemary Garlic Herb Butter, which locks in the wonderful flavors.
You could also use this recipe and tutorial to on a whole turkey. You might have to double the butter recipe.
Whether you prefer white meat, are hosting a large gathering and need more than just a singular bird OR are hosting a smaller gathering, this Herb Butter Turkey Breast is an excellent recipe to make and share for Thanksgiving dinner or any other holiday celebration.
Y’all ready to learn all my tips and tricks?
Recipes to pair with this herb butter turkey breast: Homemade Mashed Potatoes | Fresh Green Bean Casserole from Scratch | Baked Sweet Potato Cubes with Butter and Bourbon | Green Bean Bacon Bundles | Spinach Madeline
Looking for a holiday recipe? Check out my Thanksgiving Recipe Index for inspiration.
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Mixing bowl
- Hand mixer
- A large roasting pan with a roasting rack or sheet pan with a wire rack
- Meat thermometer
- Electric carving knife (or a sharp knife) and cutting board
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you need:
- Bone-in turkey breast — ours was about 8 lbs., but I know they come in larger and smaller sizes. Make sure yours has the skin, as the butter will crisp this up and make it unbelievably delicious. You could also use a boneless turkey breast, though the roasting time will differ.
- Rosemary garlic herb butter — this involves softened butter, fresh garlic, kosher salt and pepper, and fresh herbs, like fresh rosemary and fresh sage. It packs a ton of flavor into the turkey breast and makes for incredibly juicy meat.
How to make Herb Butter Turkey Breast
We’ve used Rosemary Garlic Herb Butter as a rub for turkey breast, and it infuses amazing flavor into the poultry.
A few things you should know before we begin:
- We use a tablespoon of the herb butter per pound of turkey. If you’ve got a smaller turkey, measure out what you need and reserve the rest for later where it will remain uncontaminated. If you’ve got a larger turkey breast or are roasting a whole turkey, you might need to double the herb butter recipe.
- If your turkey breast is frozen, let it thaw for up to 24-48 hours in your refrigerator before cooking.
- This recipe is for skin-on, bone-in unstuffed turkey breast. However, you can use this technique for any skin-on turkey, including a smaller breast or a whole bird. (The USDA has an awesome graphic about a breakdown of cook times here.)
How to prep a turkey breast for roasting
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Prepare your roasting pan and rack—set them out together and ensure they’re clean. Any pan juices will make for delicious turkey gravy!
Remove the turkey breast from its packaging. Pat it dry with paper towels to ensure that it’ll crisp up as it cooks. Remove the neck, as well as the bag of giblets from the cavities and dried those out, too.
Place the turkey breast-side up on the prepared roasting pan.
Add the herb butter
The key is getting the butter beneath the skin of the poultry, as well as all over the top of skin, so that the flavors really soak into the meat.
The butter will also crisp up the skin as it roasts.
Use your fingers or a knife to get the butter beneath the skin. Start at the top of the turkey breast (or the bottom of the breast—wherever the skin is loosest and where you can get this process started.)
When you have an opening, slide your knife/fingers between the skin and the meat. Do this gently, as you want to loosen the skin but not make it to where it comes all the way off.
As the skin releases from the meat, slide the knife or your fingers farther in, creating a pocket above the breast. This is where we will be able to smear the herb butter into, and we want one of these on both sides.
When you’ve created these pockets, smear the herb butter under the skin, as well as on top of the skin and inside the turkey cavity.
You can season with additional black pepper, though I don’t think it’s necessary since the herb butter has so much flavor in it.
How long to roast a turkey breast?
Once the turkey has been slathered in the herb butter, transfer the roasting pan into the preheated oven and roast uncovered.
The cook time of your turkey will be entirely dependent on how large it is, as well as if you’ve stuffed it.
Did you know…
As a general rule of thumb, you will need to roast the turkey breast for about 20 minutes per pound if it is unstuffed. A stuffed turkey takes longer to roast than an unstuffed one.
The cooking time will vary based on your oven temperature, as well as the size of your bird.
The turkey skin will turn a deep golden brown when it’s done.
However, to know when it’s completely cooked through and safe to eat, you need to take its temperature with an instant-read thermometer* (affiliate link).
Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. We want the internal temperature to be 165°F to be considered done. Roast the turkey for longer if it does not reach this temperature, as it is unsafe to eat.
How to rest and serve a turkey breast
When the turkey breast has reached its ideal temperature and has crispy skin, remove it from the oven, and let it rest on the countertop for 15-20 minutes before carving.
I do not like to cover my turkey breast with aluminum foil at this point because the steam can sometimes make the skin become soggy.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
If you’re roasting a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast for the holidays, good for you! This recipe is one of our favorites, and we could not get enough for it.
Here are a few things you can do if you’re making this for your people to make your entertaining even easier:
- Purchase your ingredients in advance. Let that turkey breast thaw in the refrigerator, too. Consider getting more ingredients to make a double batch of the herb butter if your turkey breast is larger. (As a rule, we use a tablespoon of herb butter per pound of meat.)
- Make the herb butter in advance, too. Let it come to room temperature for an hour before you plan on slathering the turkey in it.
- Use a meat thermometer! (*affiliate link) This will ensure your bird is cooked perfectly!
- Make the festivities easy on yourself by serving make-ahead side dishes. Consider making Mashed Potato Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, etc., because you can reheat these in a flash once the turkey is out of the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
As a rule, we use a tablespoon of herb butter per pound of poultry.
This herb butter keeps the turkey moist and delicious as it roasts.
We cook ours at 325°F.
I always roast mine uncovered. If it starts browning too soon or burning, I’ll lightly cover it to where the skin won’t get soggy.
It depends. An unstuffed turkey breast should roast for about 20 minutes per pound, but it’s going to depend on your bird and your oven. Use a digital thermometer to ensure the turkey is cooked through. (165˚F is the magic temperature.)
Quick tips and tricks for the best roasted turkey breast
- Thaw the bird. This recipe will not turn out if you’re roasting a frozen turkey, so thaw it in the fridge beforehand.
- Give your bird time to roast. I’m an impatient baker when it comes to poultry, but it needs time. So start your turkey with more than enough time to roast and give yourself some wiggle room.
- Let it rest. This will ensure the juices don’t run out of it because the resting process will let them settle. And we want a juicy bird!
- How to store: Carve the turkey and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave, if desired!
- How to freeze: Transfer the turkey meat into an airtight freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 minutes. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating and enjoying.
- Use the breast bone to make stock! Here’s an awesome turkey stock recipe. We make this every year and freeze it for later!
More turkey recipes to try:
How to use turkey leftovers:
- How to make Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry
- Cranberry Turkey Puff Pastry Tartlets
- Thanksgiving Turkey Biscuits and Gravy
- Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
- Leftover Turkey Salad
- Thanksgiving Tacos
Herb Butter Turkey Breast is the ultimate holiday centerpiece. Bursting with herb garlic flavor, this smaller cut of turkey is great for a more intimate crowd. It’s ready in less time than a whole bird, too!
- 8 lb. turkey breast
- 8 tablespoons garlic herb butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Remove the turkey breast from its packaging, and pat dry. Remove any giblets or turkey gravy packets from inside the cavities, and pat those dry, as well.
- Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
- Place the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack.
- Season the turkey breast. Use your fingers or a knife to push the butter beneath the skin, as well as smear it on top of the skin and inside the cavities. As a rule, we use about a tablespoon of butter per pound of turkey.
- Roast the turkey breast uncovered in the preheated oven. It will take about 20 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird, so set a timer (for 2 hours 30 minutes for an 8 lb. turkey breast), and then when it’s close to time, take the temperature of the turkey breast. We want it to reach 165°F at the thickest part of the breast before removing it from the oven.
- Once the turkey is cooked through, remove from the oven, and let sit uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
- Carve the turkey, and enjoy with your favorite sides.
The cook time will change depending on how large your turkey breast is and how hot your oven runs. Take your bird's temperature to ensure it's ready to eat.
We use about 1 tablespoon of this herb butter per pound of poultry. So if you’re roasting a 16 lb. turkey, you will want to double this recipe to have enough! Likewise, if you have a smaller turkey breast, separate the amount you need from the extra so that the extra can be uncontaminated and used later. (We really like this on bread!)
Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 693Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 367mgSodium: 499mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 137g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.