It’s almost Thanksgiving, but not quite. It doesn’t matter. This cranberry glazed turkey breast recipe is so good that I make it several times a year, Thanksgiving or not. I’ve perfected this recipe to the point where a turkey breast comes out of the oven so juicy, so moist that it’s hard to believe that super lean turkey breast meat can be like that. It’s a must try recipe if you like turkey breast meat.
Another cool thing about this turkey breast recipe is that no brining or injecting is needed. And the turkey is cooked at a higher temperature, 375F. I wouldn’t normally go higher than 325F when baking chicken or turkey breast, especially when cooking skinless breasts. But in this recipe, turkey breast meat is protected by skin and a thick layer of cranberry sauce. The risk of meat drying out during baking is smaller.
Brining or injecting is also good for flavoring the meat inside out. Since we are not doing that in this recipe, I add some chicken broth and butter in the baking dish to create a dipping sauce that can be used later with the meat. The broth and the butter also help keep the meat hydrated during baking and keep it from drying out.
Another thing that I do differently in this recipe is I bake the breast to 161-162F. The temperature will then continue to rise to the USDA recommended temperature of 165F and I will have a perfectly and safely cooked turkey breast that will be as juicy as it can be. I’ve seen claims that you can bake a chicken or turkey breast to 160F and that it will continue to rise to 165F. My experiments showed that the turkey breast when pulled at 160F continues to rise to 163.9F – 164F, stays there for a few minutes and then starts to drop back.
To be on the safe side, I recommend cooking until 161F-162F and letting the turkey breast rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I used to love and praise my indispensable ThermoWorks Thermapen instant read thermometer, and use it while baking or roasting meat all the time. Not anymore. Not so long ago I’ve got into a habit of using my ThermoWorks thermocouple BBQ thermometer when cooking in the oven. It’s super convenient. I set the target temperature and it beeps to alert me when the food is ready, helping me avoid overcooking and saving me the effort of opening the oven multiple times to check the temperature.
If you have a BBQ thermometer give it a try in the kitchen oven. It will make your cooking much easier and stress free. It’s perfect for using with this turkey breast recipe. If you don’t have one, something like ThermoPro TP08 will be a great investment for kitchen use.
For the cranberry glaze not to be too dry, I split it in half and use the first half before I put the meat in the oven, and the other half about 15 minutes before the meat is done. I also sometimes cover the baking dish with foil at this time. This way I get a nice, thick layer of glazing on my turkey breast. If you want the glaze to be thin and caramelized, put all of the glazing on at the beginning and don’t foil unless the meat starts to brown too much.
- 1 whole turkey breast, skin on, bone removed
- ½ cup chicken broth at room temperature
- 4 small pieces of butter
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
- For cranberry glaze:
- 1.5 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
- ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar
- Preheat oven to 375F
- To make the cranberry glaze, combine cranberries, honey (or maple syrup) and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries pop and become very soft, and the liquids start to thicken.
- Remove the mix from the stove and pour into a sieve placed over a bowl. Using a spatula, push the pulp of the mix through the sieve and into the bowl, leaving skins and seeds behind. Set aside.
- Now prepare the turkey breast. If the turkey breast has a bone, using a boning knife carefully remove the bone and discard it. Place the turkey breast into a baking dish. Prepare the spices.
- Evenly rub the spices and salt all over the turkey breast. Pour the chicken broth into the baking dish. Put one small piece of butter on each of the walls of the baking dish.
- Spread half the glaze over the top and sides of the turkey breast.
- If using BBQ thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast.
- Place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the baking dish from the oven, and spread the rest of the cranberry glaze over the meat. Cook for about 15 minutes more, or until the meat is fully done (internal temperature at the thickest part should read at least 161-162F). If you want the glaze to be softer and less caramelized, cover with foil during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or platter and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes. Carve and serve with your favorite side dish or steamed vegetables.
- Save the juices from the baking dish, they are delicious. Use them to make gravy or use them as a dipping sauce for turkey meat or side vegetables.