You’ll be the talk of your holiday gatherings with this Garlic Herb Butter Roasted Turkey Breast! With herb butter smeared under the skin so it drips down and bastes the turkey while it roasts, the skin is loaded with flavour while the flesh is beautifully juicy. This is epic!
The phrase “This side dish recipe is so good, it will steal the show!” is thrown around all too much, and I’m guilty of it myself. But for those of you responsible for the main event – here is a turkey against which no side, no matter how epic, stands a chance.
That herby garlic butter….. that juicy turkey breast – WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE PART IN THE VIDEO WHERE I SHOW YOU HOW JUICY IT IS!!!! Sorry for shouting, but I was so excited to be able to capture that snippet.
Sometimes, I laugh out loud imagining what my former colleagues must think. Back in that world, I’d be fist pumping and shaking hands when we successfully closed a deal.
Now I jump up and down with glee when I nail a 2 second clip for a video, something that sounds so trivial – like showing how juicy a turkey breast is – but for me in this world, seems imperative to get right. 🙂
Te he he! I know which world I’m happier in. The world in which my job is to make things like THIS –
There are no words sufficient enough to describe to you how good this is. I don’t even know where to begin, but am going to have a good crack at it.
The story begins with a garlic herb butter. Imagine your greatest garlic bread experience. Remember how it oozes out of the soft bread when you bite into it? That salty, buttery, garlicky deliciousness.
Now, imagine that smeared very generously under the skin of a turkey.
Imagine what that herby garlicky butter is doing to the turkey, while it’s roasting away. All sorts of good things. It’s dripping down the turkey, very slowly because it’s under the skin, basting that turkey, infusing it with ridiculous amounts of flavour.
Yes, you need to get your hands dirty. Best hand moisturiser ever.
And as that butter drips ever so slowly down the turkey, some of it ends up in the pan, mingling with the turkey juices. Baste, baste, baste away, for extra buttery goodness.
Regular readers know I’m a pretty flexible laid back kind of cook. So when I put my foot down, you know there’s a reason for it.
I’m putting my foot down and saying – if you are responsible for the main event and are roasting turkey, no matter what recipe you are using – get a meat thermometer!!
No excuses. Especially fellow Aussies. Turkey is a once a year indulgence for many, and it isn’t cheap, so a meat thermometer is a small investment to ensure your turkey comes out as juicy as mine (wait until you see it!!!). El cheapo is fine – mine is this $6 one from Ebay. Get one NOW!
Ahh, those pan juices! The perfect sauce. No need to fuss around with gravy when you have a ready made sauce that tastes this good! That’s the reason why I roast the turkey on a bed of garlic and herbs – to infuse the pan juices with extra flavour so it can be used as the sauce.
SLOW COOKER UPDATE!!
This recipe is for oven roasting. However, by popular demand, I used this recipe to make a roast chicken in the slow cooker, just to see how it would go. Result – fantastic!! Here are photos of the roast chicken I made in the slow cooker using this recipe. Directions to make this in a slow cooker are now in Note 10 of the recipe, and I will eventually publish the full recipe with an accompanying video.
I used chicken to test it out and based on this, I am sure turkey will work just as well. The one caveat I have is that you must make gravy instead of just using the juices in the slow cooker as the sauce. The reason is that when you make things in a slow cooker, it lacks the extra flavour you get from caramelising in the oven (can’t make up for it with a quick oven browning at the end). However, the upside is that you get way more juices when slow cooking which makes a KILLER GRAVY!!! See Note 10. 🙂
And with all that talk about this Garlic Herb Butter Roasted Turkey, piping hot fresh out of the oven, I haven’t even started on the day after…
Leftover turkey was never so good. Now, I’m no food scientist. But I swear, something happened to that turkey overnight and the flesh became almost “cured” so it truly has a texture like the turkey deli slices. It’s a bit hard to capture it in photos, but I’ve tried – see how the slices are smooth? There’s no question – it’s the best leftover turkey I’ve had. You can eat it cold, straight out of the fridge, and you’d never describe it as dry.
Pile it onto warm rolls slathered with the garlic butter… because you saved the leftover butter sauce, the thought of throwing it out never crossed your mind – and to really take it over the top, add some cheese (I’m partial to provolone and swiss).
DOESN’T THIS LEFTOVER TURKEY ROLL LOOK INSANE???!!!!
A turkey so good, it makes you want to cry. Well, it makes me want to cry. 😂
There is honestly no other way to describe this. Yes, the prep is more fiddly than 99.9% of the recipes on this site.
And it is worth every second of effort. And just think how beautifully moisturised your hands will be after you make this, not to mention how you will be showered with compliments by all those fortunate enough to get some of your Famous Garlic Herb Butter Roasted Turkey which will be remembered for years to come. 🙂
That’s what I’m here for. To make you look like a star! 😂 – Nagi x
PS More ways with turkey:
– Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast: super simple, no brining, JUICY turkey breast
– Dry Brined Whole Turkey: the most practical way to brine a whole turkey AND you can do it while it’s still defrosting
– One Pan Cajun Roast Turkey Breast and Dressing: Epic reader recipe from last year! Cajun rubbed turkey baked in the same pan as a fabulous sausage dressing (stuffing).
An incredible way to roast turkey breast! The garlic herb butter smeared under the skin bastes the breast while it roasts, and creates a butter pan sauce to serve on the side. Update 21 Nov 2017: SLOW COOKER notes added. A meat thermometer will ensure your turkey comes out beautifully juicy. And the leftovers are the best I've ever had - see photo in post of the turkey sandwich. Truly worth using fresh herbs for this recipe, but see notes for dried options. 2017 Easy Thanksgiving Menus here and all Thanksgiving recipe here. RECIPE VIDEO below.
- 2.5 - 3 kg / 5-6 lb single turkey breast , skin on, bone in (Note 1), NOT BRINED
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Small bunch of fresh herbs - 4 rosemary sprigs , 8 sprigs sage, 10 thyme sprigs
- 12 garlic cloves , smashed with side of knife (see video)
- 150 g / 5 oz (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 tsp table salt or 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp finely chopped sage , fresh
- 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary , fresh
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves , fresh
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves , fresh
Take turkey out of the fridge 45 minutes before cooking (or 30 minutes if it's super hot where you are).
Preheat oven to 200C / 390F (all oven types). Put rack in the lower middle position. (Note 3)
Place garlic and bunch of herbs in the middle of a baking dish. (Note 4)
Butter: Mix Butter ingredients together.
Use an upside teaspoon to help loosen the skin from the turkey flesh (easiest to go under the paper thin layer under the surface skin). Video helpful here.
Use about 2/3 of the butter, and smear it under the skin on the top half of the breast. Best to smear using hands under the skin (not on surface), to ensure it spreads as evenly as possible.
Turn turkey upside down. Reserve about 2 tbsp butter for the surface, smear the rest on the underside.
Place turkey in pan on the herbs, skin side up. Now smear skin with remaining butter - you don't want much on the skin because the herb bits burn.
STOP HERE for make ahead - the turkey can be left like this for up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge 45 minutes before serving then proceed.
Sprinkle top and sides of breast with salt and pepper all over. Place turkey in oven, turn DOWN to 180C/350F.
Roast for 1 hr 30 minutes, basting all over every 30 minutes. (Note 5)
COOK TIME / INTERNAL TEMPERATURE: The turkey is cooked when the meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part is 74C/165F. I check in several places. My 2.8 kg / 5.5lb bone in turkey took 1 hr 40 minutes.
COVER turkey with foil when it becomes golden to your taste, at any point during the cook time (1 hr 15 minutes for me).
Remove turkey from pan and place on serving plate. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
The pan will have melted butter and roasting juices. Remove herbs and garlic, squeezing out juices. Pour sauce into jug, serve with turkey.
Gravy option - see Note 11. I personally love using the butter, but I understand if you feel the need for gravy!
1. TURKEY: Single breast, bone in, is the most popular turkey breast cut here in Australia. You can also use a 2 - 2.5kg / 4-5lb single breast with no bone. This can also be with a whole bone in turkey breast (called "buffe" or "crown" here in Australia, see photos in this turkey recipe). If your turkey is larger, use the scaler (hover mouse over Servings) to adjust the ingredients.
BRINED TURKEY: Frozen packaged turkey sold in the freezer section of supermarkets is often brined (if ingredients include salt, it's brined). This recipe will be too salty if you use brined turkey, so reduce the salt in the butter to 3/4 tsp. You may also need to add more melted butter in the pan juices to make it less salty - depends how brined your turkey is. Ensure the turkey has SKIN ON as some packaged turkey's do not, if they are deboned and rolled (eg. Steggles).
THAW TURKEY: You must must MUST thaw turkey properly before cooking it. Thaw in the refrigerator in a large bowl/tray 24 hours for every 2 - 2.5kg / 4 - 5 kg. Or for a quick thaw, use cold tap water (not warm or hot) and allow 30 minutes for every 500g/1lb of turkey, changing the water every 30 minutes. Ensure the turkey is submerged.
Do not even think about microwave thawing it - trust me, I've been there, tried that, suffered dry turkey. And cooking a partly frozen turkey is a no-no too.
2. COOK TIME: Rely on your thermometer, because so many variables will affect the cook time - the accuracy of your oven, the coldness of your turkey, how often you open/close the oven, how much heat escapes every time you do that etc etc!
3. RACK POSITION: Put the rack just below the middle so the turkey itself is in the middle of the oven. If the turkey is too high, the top can brown too fast, especially in standard ovens.
4. Choose a baking dish or ovenproof skillet the breast will fit in comfortably without loads of space around it.
5. BASTING: Use a large spoon and scoop up the pan juices, pour it all over the turkey. Do this about 8 - 10 times, then return to oven.
6. BUTTER SAUCE: Taste the sauce for saltiness (depends how much salt came off skin). Too salty: Add melted unsalted butter OR lemon juice (a bit at a time) if you want lemon flavour. Key is to taste test as you go. Not salty enough: Add salt. Not enough Sauce: Add butter and salt.
You will not need loads of sauce, it's rich . You'll need about 2 tsp per serving. See video to see how much there is - remember there are turkey juices combined with the butter, it's not just butter.
8. SERVINGS: Turkey should be sliced fairly thinly for optimal experience! Start carving at the fat end of the breast which is juicier (it's inevitable the thin end will be a bit overcooked). Ensure every slice has a bit of skin OR some of the underside (it is seriously loaded with flavour in this turkey!).
Because it's sliced thinly, and assuming plenty of sides, I think that 300g / 10 oz UNCOOKED weight is sufficient per person. The drumstick/wing/bone you see in mine and the bone in a whole double breast weighs about 400g/14oz. So to serve 8 people, I would use 8 x 300g / 10 oz = 2.4kg / 5 lb, plus 400g/14oz bone = approx 2.8kg / 5.8 lb.
9. LEFTOVERS ARE EPIC: Keep leftover turkey whole. The salt under the skin seems to sort of cure the turkey so the next day, it slices like deli meat, rather than being dry leftover turkey. Make sure you save the butter and pan juices too! See photo in post for the leftover turkey cheese sandwich with garlic butter. It's a brioche roll that I lightly toasted. I piled turkey on a plate and topped with provolone cheese, microwaved it briefly to melt the cheese. Dollop some butter / turkey juice "jelly" onto the bottom of the bun, pile on turkey cheese, dolloped more butter then put the top on. It's so crazy good!!!
10. SLOW COOKER: By popular demand, I tested this recipe in a slow cooker using a whole chicken. Gravy is a MUST for this slow cooker version because you don't get the caramelisation from roasting so the flavour profile is different. Here is how to make this recipe in a slow cooker (it is based on this Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast).
* Follow recipe to make the rub and put it under the skin but DO NOT put any on the underside of the breast (no point, it ends up under liquid). Just reserve 2 tbsp for the top skin surface, put all the rest of the butter in a THICK layer under the skin on the upper side of the breast.
* Put a halved onion + entire head of garlic, halved, face down in the slow cooker (unpeeled is fine). Put bunch of herbs on top per recipe, put breast on top.
* Slow cook 6 - 7 hours or until thermometer reads 74C/165F, start checking at 6 hours (see Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe for cook times for different turkey sizes).
* When ready, remove turkey immediately, do not leave it sitting on Warm setting. Drizzle with melted butter, bake at 220C/430F (standard) or 200C/30F (fan/convection) for 20 - 25 minutes or until browned. Stand 15 minutes, then carve and serve with gravy!
* GRAVY: Reduce juices in slow cooker to 2 cups in a large saucepan over high heat. If you are short (unlikely, because of all the butter), top up with water. Mix together 2 tbsp flour with a splash of the juices until flour is dissolved. Pour into juices and whisk. Simmer on medium high until thickened to gravy consistency, season with salt and pepper. To make the gravy colour browner, add a tiny bit of dark soy sauce (yes really, works way better than Worcestershire, adds salt too, no it does not taste Chinesy).
***See photos in the middle of the post!***
11. GRAVY: If you really want a gravy, this is how to do it (it will be a browned butter gravy, super delicious): Scrape the pan juices into a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer then add 1/4 cup of plain flour. Mix into a slurry and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in 1 cup of chicken broth, whisking as you go. When it heats up, it will thicken, if it's too thick, add water (depends on how much juices were in pan). To darken gravy colour, use dark soy sauce - just 1/2 tsp at a time (see note above for rationale). Lastly, season with salt & pepper to taste.
12. More ways with turkey:
- Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast: super simple, no brining, JUICY turkey breast
- Dry Brined Whole Turkey: the most practical way to brine a whole turkey AND you can do it while it's still defrosting
- One Pan Cajun Roast Turkey Breast and Dressing: Epic reader recipe from last year! Cajun rubbed turkey baked in the same pan as a fabulous sausage dressing (stuffing).
13. Nutrition per serving assuming all pan juices butter are consumed which they probably won't be.
WATCH OUT TO MAKE IT
Thanksgiving Menus! A super simple Thanksgiving menu, my Perfect Thanksgiving Menu and a guide for choosing your Thanksgiving menu, along with links and descriptions and preparation indicators for all my Thanksgiving-worthy recipes! Find my Thanksgiving Menus here.
LIFE OF DOZER
Oh dear Dozer. The holiday season is upon us again. How you dread that time of the year when I break open your Christmas box. Little did you know the day I bought you that one of my friends’ has a pet supply business.
Poor, poor Dozer.