This boneless turkey breast is slathered in a savory citrus and herb butter, then roasted until crispy on the outside and moist and tender inside. It’s perfect for your Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners!
This is one of my Thanksgiving recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
If you’re anything like me, cooking a huge Thanksgiving turkey can be really nerve-wracking. It’s a big deal, and when it’s the star of the dinner, you really need it to be amazing.
So I actually prefer to cook a turkey breast instead! Not only are they smaller and easier to cook, they’re also a lot more economical, and easier to fit in your freezer and/or refrigerator.
This recipe takes the easiness factor up a notch by using a boneless turkey breast roast. With no bone, the turkey breast cooks quicker, and carving is so much easier!
In fact, this is a great dinner idea for a non-holiday meal. You get all the comfort of a classic holiday main course, but without being so involved.
How to make roasted boneless turkey breast?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Make the butter. The key here is to make sure the butter is nice and softened, otherwise it won’t mix together well.
- Butter the turkey breast. I like to add my turkey breast on top of some aromatics (like onion, citrus, fennel, and herbs) for added flavor.
- Roast. Make sure you loosely cover the baking dish with foil after 20 minutes, to keep the butter from burning.
- Rest and serve. Resting is important with meats, since it allows the juices inside to redistribute, and will yield a juicier turkey when sliced.
As with any poultry recipe, I highly recommend using an internal thermometer to check whether the turkey is done. All poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
Variations of this recipe
- Skin-on turkey breast – if you have a boneless turkey breast with the skin on, you can use that for this recipe with no changes to roasting time. Roast the turkey skin-side up, and rub some of the butter underneath the skin, as well as on top.
- Dried herbs – dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so if you’d like to use dried rosemary, sage, and thyme, use about 1/2 tsp of each.
- Smoked paprika – if you have smoked paprika on hand, and would like a little smoky flavor added, feel free to use the smoked paprika instead of regular.
- Salted butter – if you have salted butter, you can use that instead of the unsalted that’s called for. Just reduce the kosher salt in the butter by about half.
- Extra flavor boost – try adding about 1/2 cup dry white wine to the baking dish before roasting the turkey.
- Alternate cooking methods – this recipe can also be cooked in the slow cooker or air fryer, check out the “chef tips” section right below the recipe for all the details.
Yes, you can certainly use this citrus herb butter with any type of turkey. However, the cooking time will change, so please cook according to butcher or package instructions, making sure to check that the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F.
The answer is yes, to both alternate methods! Check the “chef tips” section right below the recipe for all the details.
Making boneless turkey breast ahead of time
Turkey tastes best when made fresh, so I don’t recommend making this recipe entirely ahead of time.
However, parts of this recipe can be made ahead.
Ways to prep ahead for this recipe:
- Butter – the citrus herb butter can be combined and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Let the butter sit out at room temperature until softened before using.
- Aromatics – the onion, fennel, orange, and lemon can be cut/sliced and kept refrigerated for several days.
Leftover turkey can be sliced and frozen for long term storage. Just add the slices to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months.
Thaw in the refrigerator and heat up to enjoy!
Leftover turkey breast should be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 3-4 days.
My Favorite Baking Dish!
This baking dish is the perfect size for roasting this boneless turkey breast! Of course you can use any baking dish or roasting pan you’d like, but we really like this one.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 3-4 lb. boneless skinless turkey breast
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Citrus herb butter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- zest of half a lemon
- zest of half an orange
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp minced fresh sage
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and cut into large wedges
- 1 bulb fennel trimmed and cut into thick slices
- 1 medium orange sliced or cut into wedges
- 1 medium lemon sliced or cut into wedges
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme optional
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Set out a baking dish (I use a 2 quart, but a 9×13" will also work), or a roasting pan. Set aside.
- Remove turkey breast roast from package. If your turkey breast has a twine netting, you can leave it on if you'd like, or you can remove it. Pat very dry with paper towels.
- Season turkey breast with the paprika and black pepper, massaging it into the turkey. Set aside for now.
Make citrus herb butter
- In a mixing bowl, add softened butter, minced garlic, orange and lemon zests, rosemary, sage, thyme, and kosher salt. Stir to combine well.
Butter the turkey
- Generously slather the butter on the turkey breast, reserving 2-3 Tbsp to baste with later.
Add it all to the baking dish
- To the baking dish you set out earlier, add the aromatics (onion, fennel, orange and lemon slices, and rosemary or thyme sprigs), and drizzle with the olive oil.
- Add the buttered turkey breast on top of those aromatics in the baking dish.
Roast and baste
- Roast the turkey breast, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Melt the remaining 2-3 Tbsp of the citrus herb butter you saved from earlier.
- Baste the top of the turkey breast with that melted butter, then loosely cover the turkey with foil (to keep it from burning), and continue roasting for about 30-40 more minutes, or until an internal thermometer inserted into the turkey reaches 165°F.
- Remove turkey breast from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes or so, then serve warm with gravy (if desired).
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- I’ve estimated this recipe will feed approximately 4 people, but as always, the exact serving size is up to you.
- When choosing a boneless turkey breast roast, make sure you select one that doesn’t have additional flavor added.
- For the best results, I highly recommend using an internal meat thermometer (clickable link) to check the internal temperature of the turkey breast. The cook time given is what it took for me, but all ovens cook a little differently.
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, and you’re looking for it to read 165°F.
Gravy for Citrus Herb Turkey Breast:
- I use my Classic Brown Gravy (clickable link) when we serve this turkey breast, using the pan drippings from the baking dish if you’d like (just substitute them for the beef and chicken broth called for in the gravy recipe).
Cooking boneless turkey breast in the slow cooker:
- Season turkey breast and make butter as directed.
- Add about 1 cup of chicken broth or white wine in the bottom of a slow cooker insert, then top with the aromatics.
- Add turkey breast on top of that, then slather with butter.
- Cover and cook on low for approximately 3-4 hours, checking the internal temperature at the 3 hour mark (you’re looking for an internal temperature of at least 165°F).
- When finished cooking, remove from the slow cooker and place on a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish.
- Place oven rack in the middle or towards the bottom, then turn on the broiler. You can broil on high or low.
- Baste with melted butter, then add to the oven to broil.
- Broil for a few minutes, watching closely.
- When turkey breast has a nice golden brown color, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Cooking boneless turkey breast in the air fryer:
- Season turkey breast and make butter as directed. Omit the aromatics.
- Slather turkey breast with a layer of butter, then preheat air fryer to 360°F.
- Once preheated, add turkey breast to the basket of the air fryer and air fry for about 1 hour, turning and brushing with more butter every 15 minutes or so.
- Turkey breast is done when the internal temperature is at least 165°F.
Longer roasting time for turkey breast:As written, this recipe calls for a quicker roast at a higher temperature. If you’d like to cook it lower and slower, here’s how.
- Season turkey breast and make butter as directed.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Roast turkey for 30 minutes, then baste as directed.
- Continue roasting for another 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes (or until an internal thermometer inserted into the turkey reaches 165°F.), omitting the foil covering (unless you notice the turkey or butter browning too much).
- Feel free to broil the turkey breast at the end if you’d like a more golden brown color, just watch it closely so it doesn’t burn.
- Let rest for 10 minutes and serve warm.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.
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