Roasted Turkey Breast

5 from 4 votes
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This roasted turkey breast is so simple to make, loaded with flavor, and super tender and juicy inside, with crispy skin. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and roast dinners!

Roasted Turkey breast served with gravy and cranberry sauce

Whether you’re running low on time, have little oven space, are looking to save money, and/or cater to a smaller crowd, roasted turkey breast is the perfect alternative to whole turkey this holiday season. It’s so simple to prepare and achieves consistently perfect results. Plus, the combination of lemon slices with garlic-herb butter takes this dish to the next level. Best of all, it roasts in just 60-70 minutes!

Roast turkey breast on a plate with lemons

Ingredients

Ingredients for roasted turkey breast
  • Turkey breast: I used a 3lb bone-in turkey breast. If the size differs, adjust the cooking time accordingly. Generally, a turkey breast takes about 20 minutes to cook per pound. Use a food thermometer to ensure it’s properly cooked.
  • Lemon: Use an unwaxed lemon (or remove it yourself), as this recipe uses the zest and lemon separately.
  • Butter: Softened to room temperature.
  • Fresh herbs: I use rosemary and sage. Thyme will also work.
  • Garlic: I prefer to use fresh, but you can use garlic powder in a pinch.
  • Sea salt & black pepper.

Roasted turkey breast instructions

If your turkey breast is frozen, fully thaw it in a refrigerator for at least 18 hours (+ or – 6 hours per lb) OR in cold water for 2-2 ½ hours (+ or – 30-60 min per lb).

Bring the meat to room temperature: Remove it from the refrigerator 30-40 minutes before moving on to the next step. Then, pat it dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF/165ºC, and ensure the oven rack is placed so the meat can cook in the center of the oven.

Make the herby butter: First, zest the lemon, then slice it into ¼-inch slices. Then, mince the garlic and herbs (but leave 2-4 rosemary sprigs to one side). Finally, mix the softened butter with the herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.

Mixing the butter herb mixture with fork

Season the turkey: Place the lemon slices and the remaining 2-4 rosemary springs (rubbed with a bit of oil so they don’t burn) into the bottom of a deep baking dish/roasting pan. Add the breast on top and brush or rub the herby butter mixture inside and out (including under the skin), making sure it’s entirely coated.

Roast the turkey: Cover the baking dish loosely with foil to prevent soggy skin, and roast the turkey breast in the center of the oven at 325ºF/165ºC for a total of 1 hour 20 minutes (about 20 minutes per pound).

There’s no need to baste it! The combination of butter under and over the skin plus the foil-covered baking portion provides more than enough moisture without basting it. Plus, avoiding opening the oven door means more even, consistent (and quick) cooking!

Three-step photo sequence: 1) Bed of lemon slices and rosemary leaves, 2) Buttered turkey breast, 3) Turkey breast covered loosely with aluminum foil.

In the last 20 minutes, remove the foil and pour all the liquid (drippings) into a separate bowl – you can turn this into gravy. If your turkey is well charred, you can place the foil back on to avoid burning. Then roast it for the last 20 minutes, using the broiler at the end for just a few minutes for a crispier, golden-brown top.

To ensure it’s properly cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, avoiding bone. It should read 165ºF/75ºC to be safe to eat. If you don’t have a thermometer, then pierce the meat – the juices should run clear and the meat should not appear pink. Monitor it closely when broiling, too, to avoid burning it.

Transferring the roasted turkey breast from the oven

Leave it to rest: Finally, remove the roasted turkey breast from the oven and leave it to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 15-20 minutes. During this time, the juices will redistribute and settle for perfectly juicy turkey breast. Carve and enjoy!

Carved turkey breast in a white dish

What sides to serve with

Enjoy this perfectly moist and juicy oven-roasted turkey breast on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table, or even as a regular roast dinner with gravy made from the pan drippings and all your favorite “trimmings”:

A serving of turkey breast with green beans

How to use leftovers

There are plenty of ways to transform leftover turkey (which is primarily white meat) into new, delicious dishes:

  1. Make holiday sandwiches, paninis, and wraps with cranberry sauce and stuffing.
  2. Add it to salads – leafy green and grain-based ones.
  3. With grains and veg – like rice, quinoa, or noodles (possibly even a stir-fry).
  4. Add it to soups, casseroles, and pot pies – in place of chicken.
  5. Use it in pasta dishes – like mac and cheese, alfredo, etc.
  6. As a pizza topping.

More poultry recipes

If you try this roast turkey breast recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Roasted Turkey Breast

5 from 4 votes
By: Samira
This roasted turkey breast is so simple to make, loaded with flavor, and super tender and juicy inside, with crispy skin. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and roast dinners!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 lb turkey breast bone in, skin on
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature, unsalted

The seasoning

  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest from the lemon
  • 7-8 sprigs rosemary and/or thyme; finely chopped
  • 5 leaves sage
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic 4 small cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

Prepare the turkey

  • If your turkey breast is frozen, fully thaw it first. It's best to do so in a refrigerator for at least 18 hours (+ or – 6 hours per lb) OR in cold water for 2-2 ½ hours (+ or – 30-60 min per lb).
    Then bring the meat to room temperature for 30-40 minutes and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF/165ºC, and ensure the oven rack is placed so the meat can cook in the center of the oven.
  • Zest the lemon, then slice it into ¼-inch slices. Mince the garlic and herbs (but leave 2-4 rosemary sprigs to one side).
    Mix the softened butter with the herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  • Place the lemon slices and the remaining few rosemary springs (rubbed with a bit of oil so they don't burn) into the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add the breast on top and brush or rub the herby butter mixture inside and out (including under the skin), making sure it's entirely coated.

Bake

  • Cover the baking dish loosely with foil. Bake the turkey breast in the center of the oven at 325ºF/165ºC for a total of 1 hour 20 minutes (about 20 minutes per pound).
    There's no need to baste it unless you want to.
  • In the last 20 minutes, remove the foil and pour all the liquid (drippings) into a separate bowl – you can turn this into gravy. If your turkey is well charred, you can place the foil back on.
    Roast for the last 20 minutes and optionally use the broiler at the end for just a few minutes for a crispier, golden-brown top.
    To check for doneness: insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, avoiding bone – it should read 165ºF/75ºC. If you don't have a thermometer, pierce the meat – the juices should run clear and the meat should not appear pink.
    Also, monitor it closely when broiling to avoid burning it.
  • Remove the roasted turkey breast from the oven and leave it to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 15-20 minutes. During this time, the juices will redistribute and settle for perfectly juicy turkey breast.
    Carve and enjoy!

Notes

Butter it thoroughly: Inside and out (including under the skin), for the juiciest, most flavorful meat.
Don’t skip the lemon slices: They add extra flavor and moisture! Just make sure to place them beneath the breast; otherwise, they’ll burn.
To use boneless turkey breast: You can use the same recipe, but the cooking time will be shorter.
Storage Instructions
Store: Leave it to cool and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Never leave it for over 2 hours at room temperature.
Freeze: Spread it across a tray to flash freeze, then transfer it to a Ziplock/freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight to serve.
Reheat: For small amounts, place it in a saucepan with some water, broth, or gravy and reheat over medium-low or steam it for several minutes. For large amounts, bake it in a foil-covered dish at 275ºF/135ºC for about 20-30 minutes. Use a thermometer to check the reheated turkey reaches 165ºF/75ºC.
Check the blog post for serving suggestions and what to do with the leftovers!
Course: Main
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 374kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 164mg, Sodium: 788mg, Potassium: 575mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 576IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 60mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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