Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with Herb Rub
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A delicious herb rub makes this THE BEST Oven Roasted Turkey Breast recipe! It’s easy to make with a boneless turkey breast and so flavorful. Perfect for a small Thanksgiving meal, or anytime of the year for an easy weeknight dinner.
For years now, my family has been cooking turkey breasts for Thanksgiving, instead of a whole turkey. We have a smaller family and everyone prefers the white meat, so it just makes sense. But I’ve also become a huge fan of cooking turkey breasts at home year-round.
It makes for a delicious, easy dinner, then we can use the leftover turkey to make sandwiches and salads throughout the week. While I’ve made many turkey breast recipes over the years, including a Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, Cranberry Glazed Turkey Breast and Smoked Turkey Breast, this Oven Roasted Turkey Breast recipe from 2011 is still one of my all-time favorites!
It’s healthy and low in calories, yet the lemon herb rub is bursting with flavor! You simply can’t go wrong with this turkey breast recipe anytime of the year.
Table of contents
- Turkey breast – for this recipe I used a boneless turkey breast, but you can also use a bone-in turkey breast. See the section below for “what type of turkey breast to use”, where I go into more detail about fresh vs. frozen and the benefits of bone-in vs. boneless turkey breasts.
- Bay leaves
- Fresh rosemary sprigs
- Fresh sage leaves
- Lemon – for this recipe, you’ll use the zest of a lemon. You’ll want a clean, firm, brightly colored lemon with no visible markings on the outside of the lemon. Wash the lemon thoroughly, then use a zester, grater or vegetable peeler to zest the outside of the lemon.
- Fresh parsley – curly or Italian parsley will both work for this recipe.
- Olive oil
Step by step instructions
- Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with foil. Place the turkey breast on the foil, skin side up, and slide sage leaves, bay leaves and rosemary sprigs under the skin of the turkey breast.
- Lift up the turkey breast and place sage leaves, bay leaves and rosemary springs under the turkey breast. The heat will rise through the pan and release the flavors of the herbs up into the turkey breast.
- Make sure to leave the sprigs and leaves under the skin sticking out slightly for easy removal after the turkey breast has roasted in the oven.
- Place diced onions and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, then add sage leaves, parsley, olive oil and salt.
- Pulse until the mixture becomes a paste.
- Rub half of the paste mixture under the skin of the turkey breast and the other half on top and on the sides of the breast. Place in a 425°F preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste with olive oil. Place back in the oven and continue roasting for 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer placed inside the thickest part of the breast registers at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Let the turkey breast rest for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the turkey. Before slicing, reach under the skin of the turkey breast and remove the whole bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Slice the turkey using a sharp knife or electric knife. (One of my favorite underrated kitchen gadgets!)
Frequently asked questions
- Can you remove the skin after roasting the turkey? Yes, the skin can be removed from the turkey after roasting. But if you aren’t a fan of the crispy baked skin, I actually recommend removing it before starting the recipe. This way, you don’t lose any of that delicious herb rub when you remove the skin after the turkey is roasted. Refer to the next question for how to make the recipe without the skin. (The image above includes the crispy skin on the turkey breast, in the image below, you’ll see the turkey breast with the skin removed after roasting.)
- Can you make it without the skin? Yes. If you’re not a fan of the turkey skin, use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the turkey breast before starting the recipe. Instead of sliding herbs under the skin and under the turkey breast, simply slide all of the herbs under the turkey breast. Rub the herb rub evenly over the breast before baking.
- Can you make it with a bone-in turkey breast? Yes, this recipe can be made as-is with a bone-in turkey breast. Meat on the bone tends to cook slower than boneless meat, so you might need to add 10-15 minutes to the roasting time, if you’re using a bone-in turkey breast. I always recommend using an instant read thermometer to ensure the meat is at 165°F before removing it from the oven.
- How long does leftover turkey stay good? Leftover turkey will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. I always recommend storing it in an airtight container for the best flavor.
- Should you roast the turkey breast covered or uncovered? This turkey breast recipe is meant to be cooked uncovered. This will give you the delicious herb crust on the top of the turkey.
- What temperature should you cook a turkey breast to? The USDA recommended internal temperature for a turkey breast is 165°F in the thickest part of the breast.
What type of turkey breast to use
When shopping for a turkey breast, you’ll usually find many options, either fresh or frozen, boneless turkey breasts, bone-in turkey breasts and turkey breast roasts. So what’s the difference and which one should you use for this recipe?
- A boneless turkey breast is simply the breast of the turkey with the bones removed. If you’re buying a frozen, packaged boneless turkey breast, you’ll usually find 2 turkey breasts in the package, bound together with netting. These packaged turkey breasts usually vary from 3-5 pounds in size.
- A bone-in turkey breast is the breast portion from a whole turkey. It contains both breasts still attached to the bone. Because this is one whole piece, it will not be bound by netting. A bone-in turkey breast can run anywhere from 5-12 pounds in size, but remember some of that weight is from the bones, which will be removed after cooking.
- Turkey breast roasts can be found pre-seasoned and sometimes with a combination of white and dark meat. Refer to the label on the roast, if it simply says “breast meat” that’s perfect to use for any recipe that calls for a boneless turkey breast.
Fresh turkey breasts are always preferred because there’s generally no added or injected ingredients. But they can be hard to find in months other than November in the US. Frozen turkey breasts are generally found year-round at the grocery store, and can usually be found bone-in or boneless.
So which is the best? Depends on your preference! Bone-in turkey breasts are going to have more flavor that comes from roasting the meat on the bone. But they aren’t as easy to carve as a boneless turkey breast.
A boneless turkey breast is smaller, therefore it can fit in smaller ovens or slow cookers. If you’re loading up your oven for a holiday meal, I recommend a boneless turkey breast because it takes up less space.
For this recipe, you can use any of the options above. If you’re using a boneless turkey breast, or turkey breast roast that is bound by netting, be sure to remove the netting before you start the recipe. You don’t want the netting pulling off all of the delicious herb rub at the end!
If the turkey breast comes apart into two pieces, that’s no problem. You can roast them side by side, which is what I did in the pictures above, or you can tie them back together with kitchen twine after you rub them with the herb paste.
The only turkey breast that you do not want to use for this recipe would be one that says “oven ready” or “ready to roast”. These turkey breasts have been pre-seasoned and are meant to be cooked in the bag that they come in, so they will not work for this recipe.
Ways to use leftover turkey
A classic turkey sandwich with slices of leftover herb roasted turkey is absolutely delicious. But there are several other ways that you can use leftover turkey in recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
- Turkey Tostadas
- Buffalo Turkey Grilled Cheese
- Instant Pot Turkey Soup
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Cranberry Turkey Puff Pastry
- Spinach Turkey Quiche
What to serve with it
An oven roasted turkey is perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving, but seriously delicious year-round. Make it for a meal anytime of the year, and pair it with any of these delicious side dishes!
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Broccoli Cheese Casserole
- Crock Pot Creamed Corn
- Rosemary Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
- 4-5 pound boneless, skin-on turkey breast, *see notes below
- 6 fresh sage leaves, divided
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with foil.
- Place the turkey breast on the foil, skin side up, and slide 2 sage leaves, 2 bay leaves and 2 rosemary sprigs under the skin of the turkey breast. Make sure to leave the sprigs and leaves under the skin sticking out slightly for easy removal after the turkey breast has roasted in the oven.
- Lift up the turkey breast and place 2 sage leaves, 2 bay leaves and 2 rosemary springs under the turkey breast.
- Place the onion and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.
- Add 2 sage leaves, ⅓ cup parsley, 3 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt to the food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture becomes a paste.
- Rub half of the paste mixture under the skin of the turkey breast and the other half on top and around the sides of the breast.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the breast from the oven and baste with an additional 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Place the turkey breast back in the oven and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer placed inside the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board for carving.
- Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes, then reach under the skin of the turkey breast and remove the whole bay leaves and rosemary sprigs.
- Slice the turkey breast using a sharp knife or electric knife.
- Turkey breast – for this recipe I used a boneless turkey breast, but you can also use a bone-in turkey breast. See the section in the blog post above on “what type of turkey breast to use”, where I go into more detail about fresh vs. frozen and the benefits of bone-in vs. boneless turkey breasts.
- If you do use a bone-in turkey breast, meat on the bone tends to cook slower, so you will probably need to add 10-15 minutes to the roasting time.
- You can make this recipe without the skin. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the turkey breast before starting the recipe. Instead of sliding herbs under the skin and under the turkey breast, simply slide all of the herbs under the turkey breast. Rub the herb rub evenly over the breast before baking.
- I do not recommend removing the skin after roasting the turkey, as you’ll also be removing a lot of the delicious herb rub.
- Leftover turkey will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. I always recommend storing it in an airtight container for the best flavor.
- Using a 4 pound boneless turkey breast, this recipe will feed 8 people at 1/2 pound of turkey per person.
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