Roasted turkey breast turns out fabulously juicy and crispy-skinned when baked for a relatively short time at a high temperature.
For intimate Thanksgiving (or Christmas) gatherings, cooking just the turkey breast is the ideal solution. It’s the perfect size for four people.
Another advantage of using just the breast is that when you bake it by itself, and not as a part of the entire 🦃 it’s easier to make sure it comes out juicy. When you roast the whole bird, the white meat often turns out quite dry.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make roasted turkey breast. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Avocado oil spray: This neutral-tasting oil is very suitable for high-heat cooking.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use.
Spices: Garlic powder, paprika, and dried thyme. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Turkey breast half: I typically use a boneless, skin-in breast half because I find it easy to slice and eat. But bone-in is fine too.
Melted butter: Unsalted or salted, doesn’t make much of a difference, so use whatever you have on hand. I tend to use salted butter in this recipe.
How to roast a turkey breast
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Brush the turkey with melted butter and sprinkle it with spices.
Place it on a greased rack and spray it with oil. make sure to use a rimmed baking sheet. The extra layer of oil helps the spiced stay moist.
Bake it initially for 20 minutes, to nicely brown the skin.
Loosely cover it with foil to prevent the top from scorching, and then continue roasting until it’s cooked through. The total cooking time will be 45-60 minutes. See the detailed discussion below.
Let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing. This prevents juices from escaping and helps ensure juiciness.
How long does it take to roast a turkey breast?
Just like baked chicken breast, I find that the secret to crispy skin and juicy meat is cooking at a high temperature for a relatively short time.
This method ensures wonderfully crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat, every time.
When cooked at 450 degrees F, the total cooking time for half a turkey breast is 45 – 60 minutes.
Because of its size, you will need to loosely cover it with foil after about 25 minutes in the oven, then finish roasting it. The foil will keep the top from scorching.
Roasting a whole breast vs. half
If you’d like to roast a whole breast, you can use the same method of browning it in a very hot oven, then loosely covering with foil and continuing to roast until done. But you’ll need more time.
Last time I cooked a 3 1/2-lb. whole turkey breast, I baked it for 1.5 hours. It took that long for an instant-read thermometer to register 160 degrees F.
It turned out fabulous, with crispy, savory skin and very juicy meat, the juiciest we’ve ever had actually. But it does require a longer time commitment than turkey breast halves.
How to make it juicy
The first secret is to roast the turkey breast at a high temperature and for a relatively short time.
The second secret: allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to settle and redistribute, ensuring a juicy turkey breast.
What side dishes go with it?
I typically make this recipe for Thanksgiving, so I serve it with keto cranberry sauce and with any of these sides:
- Cheesy green beans casserole
- Cauliflower stuffing
- Roasted Brussels sprouts
- Creamy mashed pumpkin
- Mashed cauliflower with butter, garlic, and parmesan
What about leftovers?
Leftovers keep in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Although the skin does lose its crispness.
I don’t like to reheat the leftovers, as they tend to dry out. I usually make a platter of cold leftover turkey slices, alongside some Dijon mustard, fresh-cut veggies, and pickles.
Needless to say, if you eat bread (or are willing to bake this wonderful almond flour bread), you can use leftover roasted turkey breast to make yummy sandwiches!
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Roasted Turkey Breast
- Avocado oil spray
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 boneless skin-on turkey breast half (about 2 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit a rimmed roasting pan with a roasting rack and spray the rack with avocado oil.
- In a small bowl, mix together the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme.
- Place the turkey breast on a work surface such as a cutting board. Pat it dry with paper towels. Brush the turkey breast on both sides with the melted butter. Rub it on both sides with the spices.
- Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on the prepared roasting rack. Spray the top with avocado oil.
- Roast the turkey breast for 20 minutes. Loosely cover with foil to protect the top from scorching, then continue roasting until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, 25-40 more minutes. Total roasting time will be 45-60 minutes.
- Remove the roasted turkey breast from the oven. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.