I often get a little touch of Thanksgiving fever in the month before Thanksgiving – which is helpful because if you are in the business of making recipes that people can use for their actual holiday cooking, you’d best not be making and sharing them on the holiday itself. Not so very useful.
And also, Thanksgiving is always at my Mom’s house, and even though she’s a vegetarian, she makes the bird. I am certainly welcome to take home leftovers, but it doesn’t quite satisfy my itch to make a turkey for us here in our home.
But a whole turkey, even a small one, is pretty excessive for a family of four, so sometimes I go for just a turkey breast. This seems a bit more manageable and less insane than roasting a whole bird just days before Thanksgiving.
To ensure a moist and flavorful turkey breast, there are a few things you can do. If you think of it, make the rub/marinade mixture and slather it on the turkey (rubbing it under and over the skin) the night before. Toss it into a big zipper-top bag and refrigerate it. This will definitely give the meat more of the lemony-herb flavor, but if you’ve not planned ahead, don’t worry about it one little bit.
So, I’ve now done with with a 6 pound turkey breast, and also a 3 pound turkey breast. The 6 pound breast cooking instructions are below – for the 3 pound breast it was about 15 minutes at the 450°F temp, then about 45 minutes to 1 hour at the 350°F temp. Most importantly, check with an instant thermometer – you want the internal temp to be between 160°F and 165°F when you take it out.
And you want to let it sit for at least 20 minutes before slicing. The temperature will continue to rise a bit after it is removed from the oven, so the meat will continue to cook. Letting it sit also allow the meat to lock in the juices, so when you slice it it stays moist and tender, and doesn’t dry out.
Wondering what’s on the plate above?
Other Thanksgiving Recipes:
Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast
- 1 6-pound turkey breast
- Zest from one lemon
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Rinse and dry the turkey breast. Oil a roasting pan.
- In a small food processor, combine the lemon zest, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Blend until it becomes a paste.
- Loosen the skin from the turkey breast, and using your hand rub the paste over and under the skin, covering the breast completely.
- Place the turkey breast in the roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue cooking for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until nicely browned, and a meat thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160° F. Let sit for 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute, and for the internal temperature to continue to rise to 165°F before slicing.
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