This no-fuss roast turkey breast recipe is the answer to getting beautiful, never-dry turkey meat (no flipping or basting needed). And you'll love the bold Mediterranean garlic and herb coating. Be sure to read through for important tips on how to cook turkey breast perfectly every time!
No-Fuss Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
Turkey is hands-down the prized holiday meat. And for the health-conscious, it's a great lean-protein for any night of the week!
But why would you want to roast just the breast as opposed to the whole bird? If you're hosting a smaller dinner, turkey breast could easily feed 4 to 6 people. Or maybe you just want great, juicy turkey for lunch sandwiches or to add on top of some delicious toasted orzo or roasted cauliflower salad.
Roasting a turkey breast is far less involved than roasting a whole bird--no flipping or fussing. With just a few tips, you'll learn how to roast turkey breast perfectly every single time! And you'll love the coating of bold Mediterranean spices, garlic and herbs!
To cook your turkey breast perfectly every time, there are a few basic questions to answer:
Boneless or bone-in turkey breast?
I am partial to bone-in turkey breast (with the skin on, of course). Turkey breast attached to the bone but with the legs and wings removed is called the turkey crown. It is a meaty part of the turkey and can make a beautiful centerpiece on the table. But more importantly, I choose bone-in breast because it is more flavorful and will yield juicier meat.
How long to roast turkey breast?
First, what temperature you roast the turkey breast will determine how long you need to roast it. In this recipe, the oven is first heated to 450 degrees F, but as soon as you put the turkey in, turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. It will take 15 minutes per pound or until the turkey juices run clear (start checking after 45 minutes then every five minutes after that).
How do you keep turkey breast from drying out?
Like chicken breast, turkey breast has the tendency to dry out if not cooked properly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Thaw the turkey breast properly. Leave it in the fridge for about 24 hours until fully thawed out (do not cook from frozen)
- Salt in advance and get underneath the skin too! Seasoning in advance gives salt plenty of time to diffuse evenly through the bird, doing its quiet work of flavoring and tenderizing. You can do this one night in advance and allow the turkey breast to air-chill in the fridge. I do the same with my spatchcock chicken.
- Start in a hot heated oven at 450 degrees F, then lower the heat to 350 degrees F just before you put the turkey in the oven. The initial high heat will help brown the skin, then the lower heat will help cook the turkey breast on the inside without drying it out.
- Take the roasted turkey out of the oven and cover to finish cooking. Turkey breast is fully cooked when it reaches 165 degrees F, but for juiciest results, I like to take it out of the oven when the temperature reads somewhere between 150 to 155 degrees F, then I cover it loosely and let it sit for a few minutes (it will continue to cook and the temp will eventually rise).
How to roast turkey breast:
Follow these steps for the juiciest most flavor packed oven roasted turkey breast (print-friendly recipe to follow):
- Salt the Turkey. Start by seasoning the turkey with a lower-sodium kosher salt all over (and get underneath the skin too). Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes while you do other things. Even better, if you have the time, generously salt the turkey breast and chill uncovered in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
- Season with spices, garlic, and herbs. First, rub the spices (allspice, paprika, and a hint of nutmeg) all over the turkey and underneath the skin.
Then, follow that with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, garlic (a whole head, minced), and fresh parsley. Again, make sure to get under the skin.
- Arrange the turkey and vegetables in a baking dish. Spread chunks of shallots and celery in the bottom of a 9 ½ x 13-inch baking dish to act as a bed for the turkey breast. Heat the oven to a high 450 degrees F. This helps start the browning process, but then, as soon as you put the turkey in quickly turning the heat down to 350 degrees F so that the meat will cook nice and easy from there.
- Roast. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F, and just before the turkey goes in, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes (depending on the size) or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 150 to 155 degrees F (remember the turkey will keep cooking even after you take it out of the oven).
- Cover and rest for 15 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, it's a good idea to cover the turkey loosely with some foil and leave it undisturbed for 15 minutes or so. This allows the juices to redistribute, and the temperature of the meat will rise to 165 degrees F.
How long will it keep?
If you end up with leftovers (or if you make more by doubling the recipe. See notes), you can easily store leftovers for later use. Refrigerate in a tight-lid glass containers for up to 4 days. Or divide leftovers into individual portions and freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Use cold or warm.
What to serve along?
I took advantage of the heated oven and roasted some grapes first before I made the turkey. If you haven't tried roasted grapes, you simply must, they're a simple sweet touch that I like in lieu of cranberry sauce. But to throw a festive meal together, here are a few more delicious options to serve with this turkey breast recipe:
- Sides: Roasted Butternut Squash, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Greek Potatoes, Crispy Roasted Broccoli, or if you're looking for something unique and festive, try Tahdig (the crispy Persian rice will not disappoint!)
- Soups: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Roasted Carrot Soup
- Salads: Roasted Cauliflower Salad (with butternut squash), Balela Salad, Greek Salad, or Arugula Salad
- Desserts: Baked Apples, Apple Strudel, Baklava
Juiciest Garlic Herb Roast Turkey Breast Recipe
- 2 ½ lb bone-in turkey breast this would be ½ of a whole turkey breast
- Kosher salt this is the one I use
- 1 teaspoon/2 g ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon/2.3 g paprika
- 1 teaspoon/ 2.3 g ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon/ 1.2 g nutmeg
- 1 head garlic about 14 cloves, peeled and minced
- Large handful of chopped fresh parsley about 2 ounces
- Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
- 7 to 8 small shallots peeled and halved
- 7 celery sticks cut into large pieces
- 1 lb/450 g seedless red grapes
- Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Salt the Turkey. Pat the turkey breast dry and season with kosher salt on both sides (be sure to carefully lift the skin up and season with salt underneath as well.) Set aside at room temprature for 30 minutes BUT, if you have the time, chill the turkey in fridge uncovered for 2 hours or overnight (see notes).
- Roast the grapes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Add the grapes to a 9 ½ x 13 baking pan (mine is cast iron like this one). Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil and salt. Roast in the heated oven for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and transfer the grapes to a plate for now. Leave the oven on.
- Flavor the Turkey with the Spice Mixture, Garlic and Fresh Parsley. In a small bowl, mix together the spices. Season turkey with spice mixture on all sides (again, carefully lift skin and rub spice mixture underneath.) In a large bowl, combine garlic, parsley and about ⅓ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil. Add the turkey into the bowl and apply the garlic and parsley mixture all over (again, very important to apply mixture underneath the skin.)
- Assemble the Turkey Breast in the Pan. In the same pan you used earlier, add the shallots and celery to make a bed for the turkey. Simply season with kosher salt and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil. Place the turkey breast on top.
- Roast the Turkey Breast. Put the turkey pan on the middle rack of the heated oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Roast for up to 45 minutes or until its internal temperature registers somewhere between 150 to 155 degrees F. Check occassionally, if at some point during roasting, you notice the turkey skin turning too dark, cover it with foil and continue roasting.
- Add Grapes Back In. Closer to the end of your roasting time, carefully remove the turkey from the oven to add in the grapes. Return to the oven very briefly so the grapes warm through (if your turkey needs a little bit of color, stick it under the broiler for a couple of minutes and watch carefully).
- Remove from Oven and Let Rest Briefly Before Serving. Cover the turkey loosley with foil and let turkey rest undisturbed for about 15 minutes before slicing through to serve. The turkey meat will continue to cook and its internal temparture should rise to 165 degrees F.
- To Carve or Slice the Turkey Breast. Transfer the turkey breast to a clean cutting board. Start at the breast bone and continue carving from there making sure to keep your knife close to ribs. Once the meat is off the bone, you can slice the breast crosswise into slices.
- Make sure your turkey thawed before cooking. It will typically take 1 day or so to thaw out in the fridge.
- Salt the Turkey Breast First. Do not skip salting the turkey. If you have the time, salt and refrigerate the turkey uncovered for 2 hours or even overnight or for at least 30 minutes at room temperature while you work on other things. The kosher salt will do its work of tenderizing and flavoring the turkey. And if you do end up chilling it uncovered, the circulating air will dry up the skin some which will help it cook to a cripsy golden brown while the tukey breast stays nice and juicey.
- To Double The Recipe. If you are planning to feed more people, you can use a whole turkey breast in this recipe rather than ½ turkey breast. The method remains the same, but you can double the amount of spices and increase the garlic and fresh parsley mixture a bit to cover the full breast. It will take about 1 hour or a little more to fully cook.
- The roasted grapes are optional and are not included in nutrition information (with grapes: 306 calories). If you skip the grapes, still, heat the oven to 450 degrees F to start with and reduce the heat to 350 degrees F when you insert the turkey in the oven.
- What to serve along.The options for sides and salads to go along with this turkey breast are endless. Greek roasted potatoes are a favorite (and you can do these the night before if you like and simply warm them through before serving.) This butternut squash quinoa; or this fall rotini pasta are also great options. And a big festive salad like Balela!
- Storing leftovers. If you've roasted turkey breast to use for sandwiches, for example, or if you have leftovers, you can refrigerate for later use. Store roast turkey breast in tight-lid glass containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2018 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!