Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
This herb roasted turkey breast delivers buttery, crisp brown skin and juicy white meat flavored with rosemary, sage, and thyme. Better yet, it’s a cinch to make! Serve this baked turkey breast for a smaller-scale holiday feast or a hearty everyday dinner.
Save your leftovers to make this creamy turkey and dumplings soup!
This simple oven turkey breast is a game-changer, whether you want a smaller-scale main for your holiday meal or simply enjoy a turkey dinner from time to time throughout the year. It is incredibly simple to make, and much less intimidating than a whole turkey can be!
Prefer an even more hands-off version? Use this recipe for boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker, perfectly juicy and flavorful every time.
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
Here’s the run down of what you will need and each ingredient’s purpose:
- Turkey breast. You can buy a whole or a half turkey breast, and I definitely recommend purchasing bone-in if you can for the best flavor.
- Butter. Crucial to that browned, crackly skin and developing the best flavor.
- Garlic. The ultimate aromatic, garlic infuses the turkey with flavor.
- Herbs. Sage + rosemary + thyme = the classic combo, but you can use just one of these, freestyle on the amounts, or add parsley or another more unexpected herb to the mix. You really can’t go wrong with fresh herbs and roasted meat. And yes, you can swap dried herbs in a pinch.
- Kosher salt and black pepper. Simple but very necessary!
As always, exact amounts and instructions are found in the recipe card below.
How much turkey per person?
Wondering how much turkey to buy? You’re not alone — it can be surprisingly confusing! The general rule of thumb is 1–1½ pounds of turkey per person.
Why so much? Even with a turkey breast, as long as it’s bone-in, a good amount of what you buy is bone and tissue you won’t end up eating, as noted in Bon Appetit.
Plus, you always want at least a few pieces left over, right? 🙂
If buying a boneless breast, you can decrease this amount to approximately 8 ounces, or 1/2 pound, per guest.
How To Roast a Turkey Breast
- Remove all packaging and pat the turkey all over with paper towels. You want it as dry as you can get it.
- Season the turkey generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Let it sit for a few moments while you prepare the garlic-herb mixture.
- Mix minced garlic and herbs into a stick of softened butter. You want the butter to be softened, not fully melted, so that it can stick to the turkey.
- Rub the butter-garlic-herb mixture all over the turkey, beginning with spreading about 2 tablespoons under the skin. Do your best to do this without tearing or cutting the skin, so that it holds the butter mixture inside as the turkey bakes.
- If desired, stuff the turkey breast cavity with onion, garlic, herbs, or other aromatics. This is purely for added aroma and subtle flavor–definitely not a necessity.
- Time to roast!
Should I rinse or wash my turkey?
No! Rinsing or washing turkey, or other poultry products, is not necessary, nor is it recommended by USDA food safety experts. In fact, rinsing introduces more opportunities for cross-contamination and food-borne illness, and if turkey is being rinsed or washed in the sink, the sink should be thoroughly sanitized — before and after, in my opinion. And ain’t no one got time for that!
How long does it take to cook a turkey breast?
The best way to judge when a turkey is done, hands down, is using a thermometer. Instant read kitchen thermometers are inexpensive and completely worth the investment, even if you only make turkey once a year.
You can estimate a cooking time of roughly 20 minutes per pound at an oven temperature of 325°F. For example, a 6 pound breast should require at least 2 hours. That said, prescribed cooking times for turkey are truly just a ballpark range. Using a thermometer is by far the best method.
And yes, you can use the little pop-up timer that comes with many turkey breasts–but it’s even more reliable to use your own!
How do you know when turkey is done?
So, you’ve got your meat thermometer in hand. What are you looking for?
According to the official US food safety guidelines, turkey breast should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. That said, as outlined by Serious Eats, food safety is a function of both temperature and time, and because this turkey breast roasts low and slow, I feel safe pulling it from the oven when it hits about 160°F.
Do you cover a turkey breast when cooking?
If you’re following this recipe, it’s not necessary to cover your turkey breast in the oven at all, because the relatively low oven temperature (325°F) prevents the turkey from drying out by itself.
However, if you need to increase the oven temperature because you are short on time, try covering the turkey with foil for the first 45-60 minutes of its roasting time. Remove the cover after that so the turkey still has a chance to develop a browned, crisp skin.
How to roast a turkey without a roasting pan?
You can still make this turkey breast if you don’t have a roasting pan! Use a regular baking pan, 9”x13” or anything that is large enough to hold your turkey breast, and place some cut onions, carrots, celery, or other veggies on the bottom of the pan, beneath the turkey, to form a small bed that lifts up the turkey and allows air to circulate around it while baking.
Sides To Go With Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
All the classic Thanksgiving sides go with this turkey breast, whether it’s for the holiday or just a hearty family dinner!
- Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes (made easy in the Instant Pot)
- Cinnamon Honey Butter Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Kale, Apple, and Pecorino Salad
- Brussels Sprouts Pomegranate Salad
- Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce
If you make this Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
- 4-6 pound turkey breast bone-in
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons), softened
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme or use 1-2 teaspoons each dried
- Remove turkey breast from its packaging and place on a large plate. Pat dry on all sides with clean paper towels. Sprinkle the turkey generously with kosher salt and black pepper, then place it on the rack of a roasting pan, skin side up.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and be sure a rack is near the bottom, with plenty of space above it.
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter, garlic, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
- Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, gently loosen the skin of the turkey breast. (Try not to slice or tear the skin as you do this.) Spread about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture under the skin, then rub another 3-4 tablespoons of the butter over the top, sides, and bottom of the turkey breast. Note there should be roughly 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture remaining in the bowl.
- Sprinkle the turkey again, lightly, with salt and pepper. If desired, stuff the cavity in the turkey’s underside with an onion, halved or quartered, garlic cloves, cut orange or lemon wedges, and a few sprigs of herbs.
- Place turkey in the oven and bake, uncovered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Melt the remaining butter mixture and baste or brush it on top of the turkey breast every 30-40 minutes as it bakes. (You can estimate roughly 20 minutes per pound, so for example, a 6 pound breast should require at least 2 hours, but cooking times for turkey are truly just a ballpark range. Using a thermometer is by far the best method.)
- Remove turkey from the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve and serve as desired.
- No Roasting Pan?: You can still make this turkey breast if you don’t have a roasting pan! Use a regular baking pan, 9”x13” or anything that is large enough to hold your turkey breast, and place some cut onions, carrots, celery, or other veggies on the bottom of the pan, beneath the turkey, to form a small bed that lifts up the turkey and allows air to circulate around it while baking.
- Whole or Half Turkey Breast?: This recipe was made and photographed with a whole bone-in turkey breast that weighed approximately 4.5 pounds. If you have a much smaller or half breast, use half or 2/3 the amount of butter and seasonings.