This holiday, start a new poultry tradition with a copycat Ina Garten Thanksgiving turkey breast!
Your delicious herb-roasted turkey breast cooks for just 2 hours, instead of all day like a full bird. That means you have much more time to spend with your friends and family!
A classic family Thanksgiving dinner centers on a roast turkey surrounded by bountiful side dishes. But what if you don’t need a whole turkey?
If you’re only serving a few people — or everyone at your dinner likes white meat — making turkey breast is a great option. That way, you won’t have too many leftovers.
Also, white turkey meat is very healthy because it has lots of protein but little fat. And, this recipe is extremely delicious and easy to prepare.
So, what are you waiting for? Make Ina Garten’s turkey breast your new holiday meal!
Picking the Best Thanksgiving Turkey Breast Ingredients
Since turkey is so popular around Thanksgiving, make sure you pre-order or shop early. Sometimes, stores run out!
While butcher shops are a great place to get fresh meat, you can also find excellent turkey at regular supermarkets. But at either place, you’ll find a variety of cuts.
In general, you’ll see these six options for turkey breast:
- Skinless or skin-on
- Boneless or bone-in
- Entire or split breasts
To serve each guest, estimate about 1¼ pounds of turkey per person. While this sounds like too much, it includes the weight of the bones, which you won’t be eating.
Whenever possible, use fresh herbs instead of dried! This is also what Ina Garten recommends.
Fresh herbs will make your dish smell heavenly, and they’ll keep your bird from tasting bland.
The highest-quality olive oil is labeled extra-virgin. This oil tastes more like olives than lesser-quality oils, and the color is usually darker.
In fact, the oil almost tastes a bit spicy, and it is usually greenish.
However, this oil also costs more than lower-quality varieties. So, if it’s too expensive, go with regular virgin olive oil.
Virgin olive oil is the next tier of quality, and it will still make your dish taste wonderful.
There are so many options to choose from when it comes to white wine. But if you don’t know where to start, try sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
These two wines aren’t too sweet, and their flavors are light. That way, the wine won’t overwhelm the other tastes in your meal.
Also, stay away from oaky wines – cooking these wines can make your dish taste bitter. And a wine that is too strong will overpower the herbs.
Tips and Tricks for Making Ina Garten Turkey Breast
Estimate Cooking Time
To make sure you leave yourself enough time for cooking, assume that 3 pounds of meat will take about an hour to cook.
However, a large turkey breast can take longer. For example, an 8-pound breast can cook for about 3 hours.
In addition, your particular oven model will affect the cook time. If it doesn’t regulate temperature as well, your meat might take longer.
Reach the Right Temperature
When you cook poultry, you need to make sure the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. That way, you know it’s safe to eat (1).
To take the temperature, use a kitchen thermometer and stick the end in the thickest part of the breast. (If you’re cooking a wing or thigh, place the thermometer in the innermost part of each cut.)
But, make sure that the thermometer doesn’t touch the bone because this can give you a false reading.
Thaw Your Meat
Before you cook frozen turkey, make sure the meat is fully thawed. And, this can take a while!
Every 4-5 pounds of meat will need 24 hours to fully thaw in the fridge.
Rest Before Carving
To keep all the delicious juices inside the meat, let the turkey breast rest for 10-15 minutes after it comes out of the oven. If you start slicing too early, the liquid can drain out.
Lift the Breast
To properly cook the meat, place the turkey breast on a rack in the roasting pan. That way, the meat will roast, not boil in the pan juices on the bottom.
If you don’t have a rack, you can make one! Simply roll a long piece of tin foil into a snake, and then coil it on the bottom of the roasting pan.
You might think rinsing raw turkey would remove bacteria – but it doesn’t! In fact, it can actually spread the existing bacteria around your sink and counters if the water splatters.
Therefore, you should use paper towels to dry the bird both inside and outside (2).
Use a Rack
To roast the meat evenly, you want to raise the turkey breast on a rack. That way, the hot air can circulate underneath to cook all sides.
If you have a roasting rack, use that. But if not, a cooling rack for baked goods will work in a pinch.
As well, you can simply rest the turkey breast on a row of carrots or a spiral of aluminium foil, as described above.
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast Recipe, Ina Garten’s Style
- Prep Time25 min
- Cook Time2 hours
- Total Time2h40 min
Rest Time: 15 min
- Prep the Turkey
First, let your oven preheat to 325 degrees F.
Next, use paper towels to thoroughly dry all sides of the fresh turkey. When you’ve finished, place the meat skin-side-up on the rack in the roasting pan.
- Make the Rub
In your small bowl, add the garlic and fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary. Stir those together, and then sprinkle the dry mustard, pepper, and salt over them.
Once more, stir the mix, and then add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Finally, stir everything together until it becomes a paste.
- Rub the Turkey
Before you add the rub, use your fingers to gently loosen the turkey’s skin. To do this, gently slide your fingers between the skin and meat so that you create an air pocket.
Then, take half the paste and rub it over the meat inside the pocket. And rub the other half over the skin.
Next, pour the wine into the roasting pan under the turkey. This will keep the meat moist and add extra flavor.
- Roast the Turkey
Put the turkey in the oven and cook it for about 1¾-2 hours. At this point, the skin should be golden brown.
As well, use a kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat at its thickest part. Make sure that it’s at least 165 degrees F.
If the turkey skin starts to look too dark before the meat is fully cooked, cover it with tin foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Rest the Turkey
If you haven’t already covered your bird in foil, do so once you take it out of the oven. Then, allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes on the counter.
- Enjoy the Turkey!
Finally, carve the turkey breast into slices, plate the pieces with pan juices spooned over top, and dig in!
Accompaniments for Ina Garten’s Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
- For a classic Thanksgiving meal, serve traditional sides. My favorites include mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes or carrots, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, and Aunt Jemina cornbread.
- Don’t forget the cranberry sauce and gravy, of course!
- If you want to try something a little different, serve an unusual vegetable puree, such as celeriac. Or, go in a completely different direction with ratatouille.
- And if you want to throw together a meal quickly, then just serve the herb-roasted turkey breast with rice or a green salad.
To prevent bacteria from growing, you want to put away leftover turkey as soon as possible. In fact, the USDA has a 2-hour rule for perishable foods.
To stay healthy, anything that requires refrigeration must be put away within 2 hours of being cooked. And if the temperature is over 90 degrees F, you only have 1 hour.
After this point, you’ve entered the “Danger Zone.” When perishable foods are between 40-140 degrees F, bacteria grows extremely quickly, and that can make you sick.
Therefore, you should divide up your leftovers and put them away in airtight containers within 2 hours of eating. For best results, use containers that are shallow.
In the refrigerator, your leftovers will last for about 4 days. But in the freezer, they’ll stay good for up to 6 months.
You can eat turkey from the freezer after this, but it won’t taste as good.
How to Reheat Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast Leftovers
For a snack, I like to eat roasted turkey straight from the fridge. But if you prefer to reheat it, you can do it in the oven or microwave.
To prevent your turkey from drying out, put a little water or broth into the bottom of your roasting pan, and cover the dish while it cooks.
For the microwave, check the manufacturer’s manual for an appropriate power level and cook time. Then, cover the turkey and cook it, rotating the dish several times.
Again, make sure the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F. And let the meat cool for a minute or two before you start eating.