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.
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.
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
You needn’t give up your favourite flavourings or skip the brining process, if that’s how you like it.
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.
Turkey breast is readily available in strips for stir-frying, steaks and fillets for pan-frying and grilling, and in cubes for casseroles and as mince for bolognese and meatballs. See our recipes using turkey mince and turkey steak.
Roast turkey breast recipe
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
- Take the turkey breast out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for an hour. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/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.
- Weigh the turkey breast and calculate 40 mins per kilo plus an additional 20 mins.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use the strained veg and liquid in the bottom of the tray along with the resting juices in this gravy.