Turkey is the quintessential meat for Thanksgiving but it can be a disaster for some people. If you are a white meat person but don’t want to keep ending up with dry turkey breast meat, there are a few simple tricks you need. Read on to learn How to Roast a Perfectly Moist Bone-in Turkey Breast.
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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means that amazing food is going to be everywhere! One of the most daunting tasks is roasting that huge turkey!
I’m a dark meat person myself because I love the flavor but if the breast meat is cooked right, it can give the dark meat a run for its money. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to roast a perfectly moist bone-in turkey breast so that you can enjoy white meat too!
I knew Thanksgiving was coming up and I knew I had to do a turkey post because so many people are scared to cook their own turkey, I can understand why.
How Do You Cook a Juicy Bone-in Turkey Breast
Turkey can be a daunting meat to cook; the dark meat cooks slower than the white meat. Which in most cases means that the white meat is going to soak up all the gravy from your mashed potatoes because they’re so dry. It’s quite an undertaking!
I’m going to be quite frank, if you have a small family or are doing a Friendsgiving and it’s a small get together, there really is no reason to go out and buy a huge 16-20 pound turkey. You can easily buy a bone-in turkey breast and it’ll feed your small gathering easily.
My tips are simple but super important when wanting to roast a perfectly moist whole turkey breast. They include:
- Brining the turkey breast
- Using a compound butter to incorporate flavor and moisture
- Covering with foil until the last bit of roasting for a crisp skin
Let me show you how to prep and roast a Thanksgiving turkey breast so that you don’t even miss the dark meat.
*As a note before we begin, I’d like to say ideally these tips I’m about to give you would be best used a couple of days ahead of time BUT if that just isn’t the case for you, I will give you some shortcuts that you can use the day before Thanksgiving or the morning of! Also, if you are roasting a whole bird, feel free to use these tips to better enhance your whole turkey (you’ll just want to roast the turkey longer).*
How Do You Brine a Bone-in Turkey Breast For Roasting
First off, what is a brine? A brine is a saline solution (for lack of a better word) that infuses moisture and flavor into meat via osmosis. A brine consists of water, sugar, salt, and aromatics that are boiled until the sugar and salt are dissolved. It’s then cooled to room temperature and the meat is then completely submerged with the liquid. Pretty easy stuff!
One of the best ways to help your turkey breast be as moist as possible and get a good flavor from the beginning is to brine your turkey breast for at least a day. I brined mine for about 36 hours before roasting. However, if you are short on time, you can easily inject this brine into the breast with a syringe, like this one (affiliate)!
I love to brine my whole turkey breast in a variation of your standard brine. To keep with the thanksgiving aromatics and taste, I split my liquid into water and apple cider. The apple cider not only infuses the whole turkey breast with an apple taste, but it also has naturally high sugar content.
I then like to add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves along with sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley stems. A nice handful of salt into that whole mix and the tastiest bone-in turkey breast brine is ready to go!
You can feel free to brine a frozen whole turkey breast, it will take longer to thaw. However, if you start the process about a week before Thanksgiving, you’ll be good to go!
Where to Store a Brining Whole Turkey Breast
Those of you who have small families might also be tight on space (I am so I totally get your plight, I have a tiny fridge). I simply put my turkey breast in the same pot that I created my brine in and placed it in the highest part of my fridge.
Place your bone-in turkey breast in your pot and add the water to it; that way you already have the correct amount of liquid you need with the meat in the pot.
However, if you happened to be blessed with a huge fridge or even a second fridge (you have no idea how jealous I am of you for that), simply make your brine and place it on one of the Circle K Styrofoam boxes with a 9×13 pan underneath to catch any seeping brine. Put your whole bird in the box and chill in your spacious fridge!
What Seasonings Do You Put On a Bone-in Turkey Breast
A fantastic way to add a lot of flavor and moisture to a whole turkey breast is in the form of compound butter.
What in the world is compound butter?
It’s a flavored butter that can have different herbs and spices in it to help infuse more flavor into a meat or dish. I love putting a compound butter on turkey breast because it adds a ton of moisture from the fat of the butter (who doesn’t love that?!) and it also helps deliver the different spices and herbs in a semi-uniform way.
For a delicious Thanksgiving turkey breast, I try to keep to the usual Thanksgiving herbs: sage, rosemary, and thyme. Notice a tie-in between the brine and the compound butter??? Not a coincidence!
We want our turkey to be moist AND have an amazing flavor! Rub the compound butter not only on the skin but underneath on to the actual meat.
Is It Best To Cover Your Bone-In Turkey Breast While Cooking
For about the first hour of roasting, I’ll keep my whole turkey breast covered from the heat. This helps the meat to cook and retain the juices without the skin getting too dark.
It’s more for aesthetics than anything else; we do eat with our eyes first though! Make a tent with a piece of foil to lightly cover the turkey so that it slows the coloring on the skin.
After the first hour of roasting, I then remove the foil and allow the turkey breast skin to start getting its golden brown color.
How Long Does it Take to Cook a Bone-in Turkey Breast
The last thing on earth you want to do is to serve undercooked turkey breast at Thanksgiving. However, knowing just how long to cook the whole turkey breast can be a little tricky.
I can’t emphasize enough how useful this oven-safe thermometer (affiliate) is in getting your meat cooked to the right temperature. I use it in my stuffed roasts (like my Simplified Stuffed Porchetta Roast) and cooking other meats as well. It’s as easy as setting the temperature on the thermometer and then pulling the meat out of the oven when it beeps. THIS. IS. A. LIFE. SAVER.
To keep the thermometer from getting an inaccurate reading, be sure to place the thermometer away from the bone as much as possible while also being as deep in the meat as you can be.
But if you need a specific time just for timing your whole Thanksgiving dinner, this 6-pound bone-in turkey breast took about 2 hours to roast to perfection. Be sure to check out this post packed full of Easy and Gourmet Holiday Party Appetizers to help entertain your guests while they wait for the main dinner.
That’s it! Those are my tips for an amazing turkey breast! Give these a try for Thanksgiving and let me know how you love it. Feel free to leave a comment (with a rating) down below!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Sides perfect for serving with this recipe:
- Creamy Edamame and Corn Succotash
- Italian Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
- Cranberry Sauce
- Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole
- Cornbread Stuffing
- Soft Yeast Dinner Rolls
- Sweet Potato Bake with Fresh Cranberries and Apples
- Oven Roasted Root Vegetables
Be sure to check out these posts to get you ready for the holidays:
- 18+ Easy and Gourmet Holiday Party Appetizers
- 15+ Main Dishes for a Non-Traditional Holiday Dinner
- 35+ Must-Have Holiday Dessert Recipes
- 20+ Unique and Gourmet Holiday Side Dishes
- Holiday Leftover Breakfast Puff Pastry
Check out more Thanksgiving recipes here.
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- 6 cups water
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile flake
- 1 each cinnamon stick
- 2 each bay leaves
- 1/3 ounce thyme, fresh
- 1 sprig rosemary, fresh
- 1 bunch parsley stems
- 4 ounces Butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped
- 2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped
- Bring all of the brine ingredients to a boil in a large sauce pot, boil for 5 minutes. Shut off heat and cool with ice cubes.
- Place turkey in brine and chill in the fridge for at least a day.
- When ready to roast the turkey, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take turkey out of the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Make compound butter by mixing the room temperature butter with the herbs until fully mixed. Spread the butter all over the turkey breast, on the skin and underneath on the meat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place turkey in a 9x13 baking pan with a cup of water or turkey stock in the bottom to help create steam in the oven. Place turkey in the oven and roast for two hours or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees. Halfway through roasting, baste the turkey with the juices on the bottom of the pan and cover with tin foil.
- Once turkey is done roasting, let the turkey sit in the pan and baste every 15 minutes or so until the juices have redistributed. Carve the turkey and serve with your favorite side dish.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size ounces
Amount Per ServingCalories 158 Saturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 20mg Sodium 4796mg Carbohydrates 22g Sugar 19g