The best Thanksgiving alternative, I love just cooking a roasted turkey breast (bone in) for Thanksgiving nostalgia in about half the time. This recipe includes my favorite easy homemade gravy recipe that comes out perfectly every time. Plan for just under an hour for this oven roasted turkey breast recipe.
HAPPY NOVEMBER. How. Is. It. Here.
Since Thanksgiving is just three weeks away (how.is.it.here.), we have to start prepping our menu ASAP! Our plans are pretty up in the air this year due to newborn status (basically, if anyone has so much as a sniffle we aren't going), but our tentative plan is to have a day with Jay's family and a day with mine and the rest of the weekend for rest.
To simplify, I love making a roast turkey breast instead of a whole roast turkey - it's so simple and takes WAY less time than cooking a whole bird. This method is the only one I use and it's totally foolproof: no brining or mess, just simple, delicious roasted turkey that is NEVER dry.
Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
Turkey itself is something that I find not as many people use a "new" recipe on for Thanksgiving. Some families do, sure, but mostly people just kind of roast a turkey and hope for the best and it takes half a day and is maybe never as good as we want it to be? This is a classic roasted turkey method that comes out perfectly every time.
Ingredients and Tools
The keys to roast turkey breast, I've found, are PLENTY of salt and pepper (to make the turkey taste good, you know), butter or olive oil (to prevent drying), and not overcooking.
The not overcooking is huge, people are mostly so scared to serve raw poultry that they overcook chicken and turkey 80% of the time. A cheap meat thermometer will solve this problem, and if the turkey does get dry we have a super simple gravy to get us through.
Here, I'm advocating just a turkey breast, for a few reasons. First....I don't love turkey, so don't need a ton of it. Second, and most importantly, cooking dark meat and white meat separately speeds up the process and ensures that everyone gets what they want.
Variation Using Dark Meat
You can buy thighs, legs, and breasts all separately, and I like this split breast (half of a turkey breast, basically) because it cooks quickly and evenly but still serves four or more people. You can absolutely use this method with legs and thighs, use a large roasting pan or two if you need to. The cook time will still be much less than a whole turkey, and you can take the white meat out of the oven first so it doesn't dry out.
Step By Step Instructions
So: to cook! The oven goes to 350F, and the whole piece of meat gets coated in salt, pepper, and softened butter.
Rub the butter under any pockets of skin, and press the salt and pepper lightly into the meat. Pour some stock in the bottom of the pan to amp up the drippings that we'll use for an easy turkey gravy later on.
Roast the turkey for 25-45 minutes until the thermometer measures 160F, then remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes while you make the gravy. This will bring the temperature of the turkey up to 165F or so, which is the agreed-upon safe-to-eat temp.
Homemade Turkey Gravy
The gravy is super simple, just butter and some flour in a small skillet, whisked together to make a roux.
Then, very slowly pour the drippings from the pan into the flour mixture, whisking as you go, to make a smooth gravy. Add extra stock if you need to; I always use all the drippings from the roasting pan first and then extra boxed stock if I run out.
Taste the turkey gravy, add more salt and pepper, and done! Gravy is one of those things that is best when served fresh, so I make it right at the last minute. If it gets too thick just add some more stock and whisk really well to thin it out and reheat it before you serve.
To carve the turkey, I use a small paring knife to take off the bones, then slice the entire breast against the grain, leaving the skin ON because it's the best part. If people are super health-conscious they can always take it off on their own plates, but removing all of the turkey skin before serving it, to me, is like stealing from loved ones. Not to be dramatic about it or anything.
Here's your roast turkey breast! We eliminate the big bird presentation (although I have an ideal roast Thanksgiving turkey right here), but does anyone actually do that anymore? This is so much less pressure than an entire turkey that takes up the entire oven. The flavor is perfect, the meat is juicy, and the gravy is exactly what you need for some epic mashed potatoes.
FAQ + Quick Tips
165F! Take the turkey breast out of the oven between 155F and 160F: as the turkey rests, it'll continue to cook and the temperature will increase.
Honestly, I've done both and have never noticed much of a difference. I roast turkey with the most skin facing UP for crispy skin. In this case, with a split turkey breast, roast bone-side down, meat/skin side up.
No. The risk of splattering your kitchen with raw turkey droplets is greater than the benefit you MIGHT get from rinsing a turkey. Do not do this.
Uncovered! This lower roasting temperature + uncovered roast means yummy crispy skin and juicy turkey meat.
Save this easy roast turkey breast recipe for your Thanksgiving menu planning, or serve it for a Sunday dinner or weeknight meal! Nothing wrong with turkey any day of the week.
PS - Potatoes Romanoff are my favorite side dish for this turkey! Because a twice baked potato casserole CERTAINLY belongs at Thanksgiving.Print
Take the pressure out of big meals with roast turkey breast instead of a whole bird. This turns out perfectly each time with only a few ingredients.
- 1 bone-in, skin-on split turkey breast (half the breast), about 2 ½ pounds
- ½ stick butter, softened
- Fresh cracked pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Arrange the turkey in a shallow baking dish. Rub all over with the softened butter, including rubbing some butter gently under the skin of the turkey, being careful not to tear the skin.
- Wash your hands. Sprinkle the salt all over the turkey and add plenty of black pepper to the skin. Pour one cup of the stock in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Roast the turkey uncovered in the oven for 35-45 minutes until an internal thermometer (placed at the thickest part of the meat but not touching the bone) registers 160F. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest uncovered while you make the gravy.
- Make the gravy. In a skillet over medium heat, whisk the butter and flour together to form a paste.
- Let the flour cook into the oil for about 2 minutes, then very slowly pour in the last cup of stock, whisking as you go to incorporate the liquid into the flour mixture.
- Continue to whisk the gravy until it bubbles and thickens. Add drippings from the turkey a few spoonfuls at a time to thin the gravy and add flavor. Taste, and add salt and pepper to your preference. Continue to add drippings or more stock to the gravy as needed to maintain a consistency that you enjoy.
- Slice the turkey breast as desired and serve with the gravy.
Take the turkey out just shy of when you think it's done to prevent overcooking. It's easier to cook it some more than to undo overcooking!
This turkey is delicious as leftovers in the fridge for about 3 days; after that stick it in the freezer and use it shredded later in spaghetti casseroles or turkey noodle soup!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
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