Let’s Talk Turkey

November 7, 2013   21 Comments

Snack Girl realizes she will be the only food blogger who covers turkey this month – but she likes to be a rebel.

Roast Turkey Breast Recipe

First of all, my turkey breast photo (above) is real. Many of the photos that you see in the magazines are not. Recently, I talked with a food stylist who told me that they paint turkeys to make them LOOK roasted – the shame!

But, my turkey doesn’t look as good as their turkey. Oh well.

When I showed this to my daughter and told her we were eating turkey for dinner she said, “I’ll take a wing.” Ummm. “Honey, it is just the breast.” “Okay, then I’ll take the drumstick.” Oh dear.

Why did I cook only the breast? The inspiration for this post came from a reader who wrote me back in June. She kept buying roasted turkey from the deli counter ($8 per pound) and wanted to know how she could make her own.

I went to my local Stop & Shop and asked for turkey breast to roast and they didn’t have any because it was June. Now it is November, and the place is stacked with turkeys.

I bought bone in turkey breast which cost $3 per pound ($22 for the whole thing). This is quite a bit less than $8 per pound BUT there are bones involved so I believe I actually netted about 5 pounds – so about $4.50 per pound. It was not on sale so maybe you can find it for less.

Roasting a turkey breast is super easy, but I would suggest getting two kitchen essentials – a roasting pan and an instant read thermometer. Do not trust the plastic pop-out thingy on the turkey because you will have an inedible, dry bird that everyone will smile and eat – but secretly hate you for.

I use a cup of water in the bottom of the pan to make the oven moist and keep the pan drippings from burning too badly on the pan.

The goal here is sandwich filling, so I am not flavoring the skin of the turkey for maximum tastiness (for example rubbing butter, herbs, and garlic on it). I am assuming you will toss the skin after you roast the turkey because of the ridiculous amount of saturated fat in poultry skin. For example, a chicken thigh with skin has as much saturated fat as filet mignon.

Why roast your own turkey breastt?

  • You will save money.
  • You avoid added sodium and anything else you don't want.
  • It doesn't turn slimy in your fridge like the sliced deli meat.
  • You can store the roasted breast in your freezer for later.

Have you roasted turkey breast?

Roasted Turkey Breast Recipe

1.6 from 24 reviews

Makes approximately 5 pounds, four ounces per serving

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1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 7-7 ½ pounds
1 cup water
salt and pepper, optional


Preheat oven to 325 F. Place turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub the skin with skin with salt and pepper (optional). Pour the water into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 ¾ to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the bird registers 165 F. Transfer to a cutting board, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Four ounces without skin is 110 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 0.0 g carbohydrates, 0.0 g sugar, 28.0 g protein, 0 g fiber, 55 mg sodium, 3 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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We roast turkey breasts several times a year. I actually roast 2 or 3 for Thanksgiving instead of the whole bird. My tip is to use oven bags. I use them every time and the meat comes out very moist. I also agree a meat thermometer is a must, those little pop up things aren't very accurate.

Now the trick is to cut it into nice thin slices - mine always comes out in chunks. Future "how to" post?

I roast all of my turkeys and turkey breasts upside down on a rack so that the juice soaks into the meaty part and not into the pan. For the last portion of roasting I flip them over (yes, even my 20 pounders) for the last hour or so- less with breasts but you get the picture.

I also put some random veggies inside the body cavity to add extra moisture- some spare potatoes works just fine.

That breast would have browned better if it was left uncovered longer. It's a dance between keeping the moisture in by covering it and browning by uncovering it but this is why I started the upside down thing.

The bags work really well, too- if you remember to buy them.

There's nothing easier nor more delicious than turkey breast made in the crockpot. It comes out super moist.

Lisa, just want to tell you how much I love reading your tips, stories, and humor first thing in the morning. Just love it! And because of this post (and great tips in the Comments so far), I'm going to roast an extra turkey breast for my dad and send him home with it. Happy Thanksgiving!

I was going to post the same question as Maria: how do you slice it thinly for sandwiches? (without investing in a meat slicer, which is expensive and takes up too much space)

I roast a turkey breast almost every other weekend even in the summer. SO verstile and SO easy as you have said. (I use a Reynold's cooking bag for easy clean-up)More bang for the buck versus roasting chicken Yields more meat. Leftovers are great for sandwiches, salads, chili's, soups, enchiladas, on and on.

Once again, Snack Girl, you are "spot on!" To the reader who asked about slicing thin, I don't own an electric knife but have found that my serrated-edge bread knife does a lovely job for that sort of thing.

I put my turkey breast in the crockpot with some broth or water and it comes out moist and delicious every time!

Hi! To those who question how to slice it thin, first, don't overcook your turkey breast because it will be dry and crumble into chunks. Cook to 165 degrees as noted and let it sit. Then, use an electric carving knife, or if you are really into it, a meat slicer. I find our electric knife makes great thin cuts of meat for sandwiches. I use it for boneless pork loin and flank steak/London Broil too. Handy tool to have in the kitchen :)

I pour one can of sprite or 7up over my turkey and never touch it again until it is done. You will have the most moist turkey everytime. Guaranteed. I swear by this method.

Oh boy, I can smell the turkey already, mmmm. I, too am doing t-breast(s) this year and now I'll def. use the cooking bag too. Regarding thin slices, I've always had good luck by resting the cooked bird 20-30 mins covered lightly with foil, then after removing legs [if using a whole turkey], carving out each whole breast, by cutting close to the bone, and ending up with a whole large oval of breast meat. From there I find slicing thinly is so much more controlled and easier. I think I learned this method from many of the Food Network cooking shows, back when they were really very good. My other tip learned is to brine the bird overnight; what a remarkable improvement in flavor and moisture.

I agree with a few other fans...the oven bag is the secret to a great turkey breast. It comes out moist and tasty and the clean up is a snap.For Thanksgiving only I use the drippings for gravy. One splurge a year!

Regarding Russel's roasting upside down (breast on bottom and flipping about 2/3 or 3/4 the way through cooking): I keep a pair of yellow kitchen gloves specifically for flipping the bird - it is really hard to do with forks, tongs, etc. and the only thing that seems to work for me is to just grab it and flip it.

I have the Ron Popeil makes a great turkey breast! It is well worth the investment.....all the fat drips off. It's great for turkey, chicken, beef, you can even make fish in it with the basket.

Now is a great time to stock up on turkey breasts as in Nebraska, they have recently been on sale for $1.19 per pound. Frozen turkey keeps quite well so stock up!

You forgot to mention another reason to roast a turkey: it makes the house smell AWESOME!

Your turkey breast looks really good and perfectly roasted. I just bought a turkey breast and cooked in the crockpot. It turned out o.k. but now that I've seen yours I'm going to get another and roast it. I read somewhere that turkey was healthier for us than chicken.

We do this all the time since our deli turkey, the high quality one - fluctuates in price weekly. My husband makes this for dinner one night and then we have sandwiches the rest of the week - win, win. :)

I have a NuWave Oven. It makes it really moist and in quicker time, if you are short on time.

You have inspired me! My husband and I are going across the country in our RV in December to visit our son, and I want to stay away from the "stop for lunch" routine. I am going to cook a turkey breast, slice it, and freeze it. Then I'll have it on hand for sandwiches. Thanks for the idea!

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