Lemon-Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
T-1 WEEK, people!!! It’s all Thanksgiving all the time for the next week, and I am psyched. Your weird blog lady lives and breathes for this holiday—it’s basically Domesticate ME!’s Super Bowl—so I hope you’re ready to leave it all out on the field next Thursday. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t LOSE, etc. Virtual butt slap.
Today I’m gonna walk you through my favorite quick and easy turkey recipe/shortcut, but before we dive in, I want to highlight a few pre-existing T-Day resources for those of you looking for menu inspiration and hosting support. You can find all of my favorite recipes for everything from salads and sides to desserts and leftovers rounded up here and here. And if you’re roasting a whole bird, you can brush up on your turkey skillz here. Oh, and in case you missed it yesterday, I put together some idiot-proof hosting tips to help you keep your shit together on the big day.
As per usual, feel free to hit me up with any questions via email or social media over the course of the coming week. I’m happily at your service.
Moving on to turkey! I’m all about roasting a big old bird on Thanksgiving, but to be perfectly honest, it can be a lot. Especially if you’re hosting a small holiday dinner. (There were a couple years my roommate and I did Thanksgiving on our own, and we had so many leftovers, I thought I’d never be able to eat turkey again.) Enter: The Boneless Turkey Breast.
A 2½ to 3-pound turkey breast will comfortably serve four, so it’s perfect for tinier T-Day dinners as well as Friendsgiving celebrations, which don’t require the fanfare and time commitment of a whole bird centerpiece. It’s also ideal for those with smaller ovens that can’t fit a large turkey (wassup, NYC?!). With that said, if you’re doing a big Thanksgiving, making a few extra turkey breasts in addition to your whole bird is a great idea if your family/friends tend to shy away from dark meat. (I come from a family of white meat eaters, so the dark meat on our turkey often went to waste.)
I’ve experimented with many a turkey breast rub and roasting technique, but this Lemon-Herb Roasted Turkey Breast is a personal favorite. It’s super flavorful thanks to a simple rub of dried rosemary and thyme, lemon zest, salt, and fresh ground pepper, but the most amazing thing about this turkey is that it’s outrageously MOIST (sorry). Turkey breast gets a bad rap for being sad and dry, but that’s because most peeps fear undercooked poultry and therefore tend to seriously overcook it. I’ve found that roasting the breast at a low temperature (300 degrees vs. 350/375) helps to keep the meat nice and juicy, and despite the “slow-cooking,” it still only needs about an hour and 15 minutes of cook time. Just be sure to take it out of the oven when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 163-165 degrees.
Speaking of instant-read thermometers, I beg you to invest in one. Not just for Thanksgiving but for life in general. Logan gave me one for Christmas circa 2012, and he claims it’s the only one of his presents that I actually use. (So melodramatic!) But I really do love mine, and it gets more action than any other tool in my kitchen. I use it for everything from turkey and chicken to beef and pork roasts, and even steaks—eliminating the guesswork is a game changer. In case you’re curious, I have this one, and it’s awesome because an alarm goes off when your meat reaches the desired temp. Booyakasha.
p.s. This turkey breast recipe/technique can be used year-round!! It’s the perfect small roast for a dinner party, but it’s still quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal. The turkey is also great for meal prep, as a single breast makes enough for sandwiches, salads, etc. for the week.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 boneless turkey breast half approximately 2 to 2½ pounds with skin on
- ½ cup chicken broth
- Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, thyme, rosemary, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon zest.
- Gently loosen the skin on the turkey breast with your fingers. Rub the breast all over with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, including underneath the skin. Rub 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture underneath the skin, then rub the remaining mixture all over the breast.
- Arrange the turkey breast neatly with your hands, tucking the edges under. You’re aiming for your “roast” to be as cylindrical as possible. Tie the breasts with a few loops of kitchen string, making sure to tie it once lengthwise to help keep it’s compact shape.
- Place the turkey skin-side up in a small shallow roasting pan or baking dish (a cast iron skillet will also work). Pour the chicken broth into the base of the pan.
- Roast the turkey for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1½ hours (depending on its size) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160 degrees F and the juices run mostly clear with a little pink, basting once at the 45 minute mark. (I just use a spoon to drizzle the pan juices over the breast. No need for a baster.) The internal temperature of the breast will continue to rise to about 165 degrees after you remove it from the oven, so be very careful not to overcook it!
- Turn the broiler on high. Place the turkey beneath broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until the skin is browned and crisp.
- Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board. Tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Remove the strings from the turkey breast and slice crosswise into ¼-inch slices.
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