What is the advantage of cooking a turkey breast?

Turkey breast is a great faff-free festive option for smaller groups. Half a turkey breast (from one side of the bird) will serve two to four people and a whole breast will serve six.


A turkey breast is also a useful way of bumping up the meat on Christmas Day without resorting to buying an enormous turkey, because there's nothing that can go to waste. It makes better leftovers for sandwiches, too. In fact, because it's a lean, low-fat, cheaper cut of meat, it's becoming popular all year round, not just for Christmas.

What to look for when buying turkey breast

As a joint, half a breast looks like a giant chicken breast or a roll tied up with string or butcher’s netting. A whole breast can be folded in half and treated in the same way. Sometimes they come bundled in strips of bacon or pancetta, or you can wrap your own following the recipes below.

You can also tie the breast yourself, which will keep it neat in the oven and the skin in place to give you more even slices when you carve it.

We have lots of useful guides to help you become a pro when it comes to cooking Christmas turkey. From how to defrost a turkey to how to baste a turkey and we even have some helpful ideas on what to do with your leftover turkey. If you are serving a larger crowd, our guides on how to cook a turkey crown and how to cook a turkey will also come in useful.
For more inspiration, see our turkey breast recipes, plus ways to use leftover turkey.

More like this

We also have great helpful guides for creating the best Christmas dinner menus depending on the number of guests you need to feed. Check out our Christmas menu for two and Christmas menu for six as a good starting point, then check out more of our Christmas menu ideas.

Turkey and mushroom wellington on a platter cut open

How long to cook turkey breast

When it comes to oven temperatures and timings, roast turkey breast has the same requirements as a whole roast turkey. So, at a temperature of 190C/170C fan/gas 5, you'll need to cook it for 40 mins per kilo, plus an additional 20 mins.

How to cook turkey breast

Our recipe below shows you how to cook a plain turkey breast. However, you needn’t give up your favourite flavourings or skip the brining process, if that’s how you like it.

Alternatively, you could wrap the turkey breast in pastry to make a wellington or cook it in a slow cooker for an especially tender result. To lock in extra flavour, you can stuff a rolled turkey breast. For example, our air-fryer rolled turkey breast features a pistachio, cranberry, sausagemeat and parsley filling. For more serving ideas, check out our collection of best turkey breast recipes.

Rolled turkey breast with pistachio stuffing

Roast turkey breast recipe

Serves 4

1 large turkey breast or 1 double breast, tied into a joint
1 large onion, thickly sliced
1 carrot, cut into 4 horizontal slices
20g butter, at room temperature

  1. Take the turkey breast out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for an hour. Heat the oven to 190C/ 170C fan/gas 5. Put a rack inside a baking tray with the onion and carrot underneath, or arrange the vegetables in a large ovenproof frying pan.
  2. Weigh the turkey breast and calculate 40 mins per kilo plus an additional 20 mins.
  3. Rub the butter over the skin and season well. Put the turkey breast on the rack or rest it on top of the veg. Pour in enough water to cover the veg, then cover the whole tray or pan with a tent of foil.
  4. Roast for the allotted time, taking the foil off 20 mins before the end to brown the skin. Test with the point of a knife and see if the juices run clear. If you have a thermometer, it should read 65-70C. If the joint isn't cooked through, roast for another 10 mins.
  5. Leave the turkey to rest somewhere warm for 20 mins – it will keep cooking, so the final internal temperature will rise to 70C or just above that. Don’t skip this step, or the juices will all flow out as you carve.
  6. Use the strained veg and liquid in the bottom of the tray along with the resting juices in this gravy.

More turkey breast recipes for inspiration:

Stuffed turkey breast with garlic & cheese
Pancetta-wrapped turkey breast with lemon & herbs
Roast turkey breast wrapped in bacon
Slow cooker turkey breasts
Turkey, brie and cranberry wellington
Air-fryer rolled turkey breast

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