If you’re looking to switch things up a bit for the holidays, then go ahead and add this Citrus Herb Roast Turkey Breast to your menu. It’s full of flavor, easy to make, and the perfection solution for anyone who is hosting a smaller holiday gathering.
This turkey breast comes out golden brown and packed with flavor from a delicious citrus butter that’s full of fresh is full fresh garlic and herbs. The best part is that you can easily roast the turkey breast in a dutch oven and it comes together relatively quickly!
What is a Turkey Breast?
A turkey breast, sometimes called a turkey crown, is just the breast of the turkey with both the legs and wings removed. The white breast meat is still attached to the bone and there is still cavity where veggies and aromatics can be placed to provide extra flavor. Turkey breasts, or crowns, typically range from around 5-8 pounds.
Why Roast a Turkey Breast Instead a Whole Bird
It can be quicker – roasting a 5-6 pound turkey breast will take around 1 hour which can be a lot quicker than roasting a full bird. If you do want to roast a whole bird quickly be sure to check out this spatchcock roasted turkey recipe!
It’s perfect for a smaller gathering – when you’re hosting a smaller holiday dinner, you may not need a whole turkey to feed your group. Roasting a turkey breast is the perfect middle ground to give you enough (plus leftovers!) for a smaller holiday meal.
Skip the dark meat – some people just do not prefer dark meat! If you and your guests don’t particularly care for the dark meat on a turkey then making a turkey breast is the perfect solution.
Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Ingredients
Turkey Breast: for this recipe you’ll need one 5-6 pound turkey breast. Be sure to let the turkey come to room temp for around 30 minutes and pat the skin dry before prepping the turkey breast for roasting.
Veggies: we’re making a makeshift roasting rack with celery and carrot as well as using some onion in the cavity of the turkey breast as well.
Aromatics and Herbs: fresh thyme and plenty of fresh garlic are always my go-to choices for poultry and they add a lot of flavor to this turkey breast.
Citrus: we’re using a combination of both lemon and orange for that delicious citrus flavor.
Butter: I like to use unsalted butter for this recipe and add my own salt to both the butter mixture and to season the outside of the bird. We’ll be melting the butter for this recipe.
Olive Oil: because butter can burn at high temps, we’re also using a bit of olive oil on the skin of the turkey to help it brown.
Salt and Pepper: you’ll need a generous amount of both salt and pepper for this recipe. I prefer to use fresh cracked black pepper and Himalayan pink salt when cooking but go with your favorite varieties of each here.
Step One: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. To a small mixing bowl add the melted butter, minced garlic, lemon zest, orange zest, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, and a generous pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Step Two: Place the celery and carrots in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Use a paper towel to pat the turkey breast dry and then place on top of the veggies.
Step Three: Rub the melted butter mixture under the skin of the turkey breast as well as inside the cavity of the turkey breast, being sure to use all of the butter.
Step Four: Stuff the turkey breast cavity with the head of garlic, pieces of yellow onion, lemon, orange, and fresh thyme.
Step Five: Drizzle the olive oil over the skin of the turkey breast and then use a basting brush to ensure that the skin is well coated with oil. Liberally season the turkey breast with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Step Six: Place the turkey breast in the oven, on the middle rack, and roast for approximately 60-90 minutes. You’ll want to start checking the temp of the turkey breast after 45 minutes to see where it’s at. Roast the turkey until the internal temperature, at the thickest part, reaches 160 degrees, rotating the pan halfway through.
Step Seven: Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the turkey breast to carry over cook to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
Step Eight: Carve the turkey and serve with the pan drippings or reserve the pan drippings to make homemade turkey gravy.
Should You Roast the Turkey Breast Covered or Uncovered?
If your goal is to get that beautiful, brown golden brown crispy skin, then you’ll need to roast your turkey breast uncovered. However, if you notice that the turkey breast starts to brown too quickly, you can lightly tent a piece of foil over top to prevent it from burning.
How Long Does it Take to Roast a Turkey Breast?
A 5-6 pound turkey breast, cooked at 425 degrees, could take anywhere between 60-90 minutes. Remember that ovens can run a little hot or cool so it’s important to utilize your meat thermometer to truly know whether or not your turkey breast is fully cooked.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Turkey Breast
To ensure the turkey cooks evenly, remove it from the fridge around at least 30 minutes before you begin to prep it. This allows the turkey breast to come closer to room temperature so it’s not cold in some spots and warmer in others before heading into the oven.
For delicious crispy skin, every time, be sure to thoroughly pat the outside of the turkey dry before you being to prep it.
Poultry like turkey needs a fair amount of salt to really be flavorful so don’t skimp on it! There’s no need to be too heavy-handed but be sure to liberally season the turkey breast when you are preparing it for the oven.
Use a meat thermometer. Seriously, I know it may seem like another useless kitchen gadget but a meat thermometer will change your life and ensure you don’t have dry turkey. You want to remove the turkey breast from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees in the thickest part. The temperature of the turkey will continue to rise to 165 as it rests.
Last, but certainly not least – let the turkey breast rest before carving! This step makes all the difference when it comes to getting juicy turkey meat. Letting the turkey breast rest before carving allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat so that you get tender, flavorful turkey every time.
The best turkey gravy is made from roasted turkey drippings so be sure to save any drippings in the pan after roasting!
Can I Prep The Turkey in Advance?
Yes! You can easily prep your veggies and turkey breast 1-2 days in advance. When it’s time to cook, be sure to take the turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are ready to cook so that it can reach room temperature and cook more evenly.
Can I Use This Recipe to Make a Split Turkey Breast?
Yes! If a bone-in turkey breast or crown is not available to you, then you might be able to find a split turkey breast instead. A split breast is one half of the turkey breast that has been “split” and is much smaller.
You can easily use the same citrus herb butter mixture under the skin of the split turkey breast and then brush the olive oil on top before seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the split breasts at 425 but start checking the internal temp around 15-20 minutes into cooking. The split breasts will cook much more quickly.
How to Store?
You can store your roasted turkey in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three to four days.
What to Do With Leftover Turkey
Leftover roasted turkey is incredibly versatile and just as easy to use as leftover roasted chicken. I’ve included some recipe inspiration below if you need it and be sure to check out our post on healthy and delicious ways to use leftover turkey, as well!
Here are a few reader favorite ways to use leftover turkey:
I hope you give this Citrus Herb Roasted Turkey Breast a try! It’s an easy and delicious dinner!
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To a small mixing bowl add the melted butter, minced garlic, lemon zest, orange zest, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, and a generous pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Place the celery and carrots in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Use a paper towel to pat the turkey breast dry and then place on top of the veggies.
Rub the melted butter mixture under the skin of the turkey as well as inside the cavity of the turkey breast, being sure to use all of the butter.
Stuff the turkey cavity with the head of garlic, pieces of yellow onion, lemon, orange, and fresh thyme.
Drizzle the olive oil over the skin of the turkey and then use a basting brush to ensure that the skin is well coated with oil. Liberally season the turkey breast with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Place the turkey in the oven, on the middle rack, and roast for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature, at the thickest part, reaches 160 degrees, rotating the pan halfway through.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
Carve the turkey and serve with the pan drippings or reserve the pan drippings to make homemade turkey gravy.
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