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Juicy Herb Butter Turkey Breast with lemons & savory gravy

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It’s that time of year again- the holidays are almost upon us, with Thanksgiving (in the US) in just a few short weeks. And with Thanksgiving usually comes… you guessed it– turkey. If I’m being totally honest, I STRONGLY disliked turkey for most of my life, until I tried brined turkey- which I like a little more, and then herb butter rubbed turkey– which I like the absolute most. It’s juicy and flavorful- two things turkey is not usually known for- with the tastiest herb-flecked buttery crust (and the best part, you don’t have to brine it- though you totally can).

This recipe is for turkey breast- which is perfect if you are serving a smaller crowd and/or just prefer the breast, but you can use this method for the whole bird, as well (instructions below). This is the bird I’ve been making for years now, to rave reviews- and I know you’ll enjoy it at your Thanksgiving table this year, as well!

A few important notes:

  • Take your turkey out of the fridge to come closer to room temperature and make sure you pat it dry before rubbing with herb butter- otherwise you’ll be dealing with a turkey skin slip and slide situation, which is not the vibe you’re going for.
  • Rub that turkey allllll over– UNDER the skin as well as on top!
  • Remember to baste the turkey- whether with a baster or a ladle, this step is key to ensuring the turkey is extra-moist.
  • Please, for the love of all things delicious do not overcook your turkey. Test it with a thermometer halfway to judge how fast it’s cooking and take it out when the center of the breast is between 165-170. It will continue to cook while resting!
  • Speaking of, rest your bird! If you slice into it too quickly you risk toughening up the meat– also not the vibe.
  • The gravy is super easy to make- it will be herby and lemony just like the bird if you use the drippings, but don’t let the gravy deter you from making this recipe. If you want to buy the gravy, I won’t judge.

Juicy Herb Butter Turkey Breast with lemons & savory gravy
Serves 6-8

1 batch herb butter (below)
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 turkey breast (bone-in preferred), 4-7 lb
kosher salt
1 cup broth

Herb Butter:
1 stick butter (8 tbsp), softened
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1-2 tbsp chopped rosemary
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced

For gravy:
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup pan drippings, strained
1 1/2 cups good quality broth
extra sage, thyme or rosemary sprigs
salt to taste

  1. Remove turkey from fridge 20-30 minutes prior to cooking. Pat dry and season all over with kosher salt.
  2. In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 and prepare herb butter by mixing softened butter with herbs.
  3. Pat turkey dry again if needed and rub all over, under the skin and on top with herb butter.
  4. Arrange lemon and onion in a 9×13″ pan and place turkey on top. Pour broth into bottom of pan. If using a roasting rack and a bone-in breast, stuff with onion and lemon and place on top of rack.
  5. Roast uncovered for 1 hour, basting at 30 minutes. Tent with foil and roast an additional 20 minutes to 90 minutes, basting every 30 minutes for a total of 18-20 minutes/lb until internal temperature of middle of turkey breast reaches 165F. Note- a boneless breast will take less time to cook- aim for 18 minutes/lb.
  6. Let rest 15-20 minutes before carving.
  7. While turkey rests, prepare simple gravy by straining pan drippings and setting aside.
  8. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan and add flour, whisking until a roux is formed. Add drippings and broth and any additional herbs and turn to medium heat (if using unsalted broth, add 1/4 tsp salt). Whisk until bubbling and starting to thicken. Turn to low and let simmer until reduced to desired thickness. Whisk in remaining butter before serving for a velvety texture.

Chef’s Note: To make this for an entire bird, repeat instructions above, doubling recipe. Cook bird for 15-20 minutes per pound. Test halfway to see how fast it’s cooking. Take out when temperature in thickest part of thigh and breast is 165. Rest 20-30 minutes before serving.

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Juicy Herb Butter Turkey Breast

  • Author: Kristin Dovbniak
  • Total Time: 1.5-2.5 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
  • Category: Holiday

Ingredients

Scale

1 batch herb butter (below)
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 turkey breast (bone-in preferred), 4-7 lb
kosher salt
1 cup broth

Herb Butter:
1 stick butter (8 tbsp), softened
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1-2 tbsp chopped rosemary
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced

For gravy:
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup pan drippings, strained
1 1/2 cups good quality broth
extra sage, thyme or rosemary sprigs
salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove turkey from fridge 20-30 minutes prior to cooking. Pat dry and season all over with kosher salt.
  2. In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 and prepare herb butter by mixing softened butter with herbs.
  3. Pat turkey dry again if needed and rub all over, under the skin and on top with herb butter.
  4. Arrange lemon and onion in a 9×13″ pan and place turkey on top. Pour broth into bottom of pan. If using a roasting rack and a bone-in breast, stuff with onion and lemon and place on top of rack.
  5. Roast uncovered for 1 hour, basting at 30 minutes. Tent with foil and roast an additional 20 minutes to 90 minutes, basting every 30 minutes for a total of 18-20 minutes/lb until internal temperature of middle of turkey breast reaches 165F. Note- a boneless breast will take less time to cook- aim for 18 minutes/lb.
  6. Let rest 15-20 minutes before carving.
  7. While turkey rests, prepare simple gravy by straining pan drippings and setting aside.
  8. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan and add flour, whisking until a roux is formed. Add drippings and broth and any additional herbs and turn to medium heat (if using unsalted broth, add 1/4 tsp salt). Whisk until bubbling and starting to thicken. Turn to low and let simmer until reduced to desired thickness. Whisk in remaining butter before serving for a velvety texture.

Notes

To make this for an entire bird, repeat instructions above, doubling recipe. Cook bird for 15-20 minutes per pound. Test halfway to see how fast it’s cooking. Take out when temperature in thickest part of thigh and breast is 165. Rest 20-30 minutes before serving.

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