Sliced turkey roulade wrapped in pancetta

How to cook turkey breast

If you only need to serve a small group of people, or love the idea of a quick-to-make festive meal, consider a turkey breast roast for Christmas, or any other occasion.

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 one will serve six.


As a joint, half a breast either 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 with the skin in place and give you more even slices when you come to 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.

Ways to cook turkey breast

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 – see our best turkey breast recipes for more ideas.

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 is 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 as strips for stir-frying, sliced into steaks and fillets for pan-frying and grilling, and it also comes cubed for casseroles and minced for Bolognese and meatballs. See our recipes using turkey mince and turkey steak.

slow cooker turkey breast with trimmings

Roast turkey breast recipe

Serves 4

1 large single 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/fan 170C/gas 5. Put a rack inside an oven tray with the onion and carrot underneath, or arrange the vegetables inside an 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 and cover the whole tin 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 point feels hot as soon as you pull it out (be careful) and the juices run clear. If you have a thermometer then it should read 65-70C. If the joint appears to be underdone then keep cooking for another 10 mins.
  5. Leave the turkey to rest for 20 mins somewhere warm; 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 tin and the juices from carving to add to 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