Roasted turkey breast is one of my favorite dishes and I am constantly experimenting with new cooking techniques and flavors for it. This recipe is definitely one of the best roasted turkey breast recipes I’ve ever tried. Ah, the wonders that garlic, butter and fresh herbs do to lean white poultry meat… The breast meat comes out of the oven very tender and moist, which is a huge accomplishment with such a lean type of meat. The aromas of roasted garlic and herbs are irresistible, so be prepared to be uncontrollably cutting pieces off and devouring them, as if you just came off a hunger strike, before the turkey breast makes it to the dinner table.
In this recipe a turkey breast is injected with butter infused with garlic and herbs. Did that make the meat taste greasy? Not at all! The butter made the lean meat taste extremely tender and moist, without greasiness. Besides, a lot of the butter will run out to the bottom of the pan, before and during roasting, so there won’t be a whole lot left in the meat. However, the buttery juices at the bottom of the pan proved to be so flavorful and delicious that we couldn’t resist using it as a dipping sauce.
The oven roasting temperature of 325F was chosen on purpose. As I mentioned in my Tender and Moist Baked Chicken Breast post, I had experimented a lot before arriving at what I think is the optimal oven temperature for baking chicken breasts. Turkey breasts are not that much different and for them I use the same temperature. Similarly, higher temperatures will dry out turkey breast meat. I would not go higher than 325F degrees. This temperature helps the meat retain its moisture and prevents it from drying out too quickly. Lower baking temperature doesn’t really add any other additional benefits.
Make sure to also check out our Roasted Marinated Turkey Breast.
Final turkey breast temperature
I used to cook my chicken and turkey breasts to 165F and was quite happy with the results. After reading ThermoWorks’ blog post on correct chicken cooking temperature and doing some additional research, I changed my approach. I now cook lean breast meat to 155F and love the much improved results. 155F is the temperature at which I get the exact texture that I enjoy. You may choose to go a little lower or higher depending on preference, and that’s absolutely fine. Note that if a turkey breast is pulled out of the oven at 155F the internal temperature will continue rising to about 165F.
BBQ thermometer will make your turkey breast shine
Finally, I highly recommend using a BBQ thermometer when cooking turkey breast instead of an instant thermometer. Our family started using a BBQ thermometer in the kitchen oven and we can’t stop praising it. I had been using it exclusively for grilling and smoking outside, but one day I tried using it in the oven when I was experimenting with a new chicken breast recipe and it remained in my kitchen permanently.
Turkey breast cooking time depends on many variables – size and thickness, how cold the meat was when you put it in, oven temperature and how well your oven bakes. With a BBQ thermometer that will no longer be an issue. The control I got over the final results was phenomenal. You just set the alarm and forget about it. It will beep to alert you when the turkey breast is done. No need to run back and forth to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. No opening the oven a dozen times, releasing heat and extending baking time, and no more overcooked, rubbery meat.
If you have a BBQ thermometer like many of us do, use it! If not, get one! In the picture above you see my Thermoworks thermocouple thermometer with high heat probes for using on open fire grills and in smokers. It’s quite expensive and is an overkill for kitchen oven use. Something like a ThermoPro TP08 will be more than adequate and much more gentle on the wallet.
Roasted Turkey Breast with Garlic, Butter and Herbs
- 1 bone-in skin-on turkey breast (about 2 - 2 1/2 lbs)
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dry thyme finely ground
- 1/2 tsp black pepper finely ground
- 2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325F.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, garlic, rosemary, pepper and thyme.
Microwave the ingredients on high for 1 minute, or until the butter has fully melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave oven. Mix all ingredients really well and set aside for 5 minutes so the butter gets infused with the garlic and herbs.
Return the bowl back to the microwave oven and cook the mixture on high for another 30 seconds to ensure that the butter is fully liquefied.
Strain the butter mixture through a fine sieve. Save the garlic and the herbs.
Place the turkey breast in a baking dish, skin side up. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent the butter from accidentally squirting all over the kitchen. Fill the kitchen injector with the strained butter and inject the breast all over, in a diamond pattern, releasing about 1/4 - 1/3 of an ounce at a time.
Add the garlic and herbs that you saved earlier. Rub the garlic/herb mixture and the butter from the bottom of the baking dish all over the turkey breast.
Evenly sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt all over the breast and pat it down to make sure the salt sticks.
If using a BBQ thermometer (highly recommended), insert the probe into the thickest part of the turkey breast and connect to the thermometer.
Bake at 325F for about 1 hour or so, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 155F. Brush the top of the breast with butter/pan juices about 1 hour into roasting.
Remove from the oven and let the roasted turkey breast rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Recipe NotesIf you want your roasted turkey breast to have nicely browned, crispy skin as shown on the pictures above, do the following:
1. Bake the turkey breast until internal temperature reaches about 10 degrees below the final temperature.
2. Brush the top of the breast with pan juices.
3. Turn on the broiler to low.
4. Continue cooking with the broiler function turned to low until the turkey breast's internal temperature reaches target temperature.
Make sure to keep a close eye on your turkey breast during broiling to prevent burning. If you see the skin has browned enough and the internal temperature has not hit the target, switch back from broil to bake, and cover the breast with foil.
You may also like the Cranberry Glazed Turkey Breast Recipe.