Are you a Thanksgiving novice, have picky eaters or just doing a small-scale Thanksgiving? Roast Turkey Breast with Traditional Stuffing is the way to go and it’s as showstopping as a whole turkey! Best of all, you can get it prepped the night before and it cooks in a fraction of the time it takes to roast a whole turkey. Read on to get my tips for a “cheater” gravy, too!
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
For someone who cooks for a living, I have a lot of picky eaters at Thanksgiving and other holidays so I can’t go too gourmet. With everyone in our family only wanting the white meat, we stopped doing whole turkeys years ago. Instead, I do this simple, easy Roast Turkey Breast with Traditional Stuffing which they all love and it’s a lot less trouble than a whole turkey.
I was also a Thanksgiving dinner novice at one point in my life and remember calling my mother five or six times with questions. This is easy enough for a novice cook but it looks like you fussed and really stretched your culinary skills!
- A Turkey Breast Half: Turkey breast halves are one side of the whole breast. They’re available at grocery stores with full-service meat counters such as The Fresh Market and Whole Foods and their butchers will cut one for you. This recipe is easily doubled so if you have to buy a whole breast on the bone (with two halves), you can make two stuffed breasts or freeze one uncooked for Thanksgiving any time of year. I highly recommend brining the breast before roasting because it is white meat which can be very dry. Just make sure the turkey breast you’re using hasn’t been treated or injected with anything. Also, I like to roll and stuff a turkey breast with the skin so the meat retains as much moisture as possible.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter when cooking because you can add your desired amount of salt.
- Stuffing Cubes: My picky eaters only want a certain national boxed brand for the traditional stuffing so I make it easy on myself and give it to them. I bump up the flavor and texture with onions and celery. (Shhhh….. 🙂 )
- Chicken Broth: The best chicken broth/stock is the one you make yourself. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, use a good low-sodium or unsalted brand. Here’s an extensive taste-testing Epicurious did.
- Gather and prep all the ingredients.
- Brine the turkey breast half according to this Easy Turkey Brine Recipe.
- While the turkey breast is in the brine, make the traditional stuffing.
- Heat some of the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and celery and cook until softened.
- Add chicken broth, bring to a boil then add stuffing mix. Cover and let stand until all the broth is absorbed.
- Measure out 2 cups of stuffing for filling the turkey breast and place the rest in an oiled or sprayed baking dish to serve alongside the roast turkey breast. Refrigerate both until needed.
- Start the gravy. Pour 6 cups of chicken (or turkey) broth into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil then reduce heat to low and let it simmer and reduce to 4 cups while the turkey breast roasts.
- Remove the breast from the brine and pat it dry.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a roasting pan.
- With just the tip of a boning knife, carefully and very lightly cut three shallow slits in the opened breast on each side just to get it to lie flatter and create more surface area.
- Place a gallon-size zipper-top bag over the butterflied, opened turkey breast and gently pound it with a rolling pin or meat mallet to flatten it out some more.
- Season with black pepper. If you brined the breast, you don’t need to season it with salt.
- Stuff the breast. Place the reserved 2 cups of filling over the opened breast, leaving a 1-inch margin.
- Fold the right side of the breast over the filling then pull the left side over.
- Neatly smooth the skin over the breast and secure with butcher’s twine. You don’t need to get fancy with what’s called a “butcher’s technique,” you an do individual ties the way I did in my recipe for Braised Pork Loin Roast in Dijon Mustard Sauce. (See the ingredient shot.)
- Place the turkey breast in the prepared roasting or baking pan and smear it with butter.
- Roast it for approximately 90 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the filling reads 160 degrees to allow for “carryover cooking.”
- When there’s approximately half-hour to go, place the stuffing in the baking dish in the oven so that bakes and heats through entirely (165 degrees).
- And then…..
- Tent the turkey breast with aluminum foil so that it “rests.” Carryover cooking will take the turkey breast to the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Finish the gravy. Pour as much of the browned butter drippings into a saucepan that you can, avoiding the super dark bits.
- Add a little more butter and then the flour. Cook the flour for 1-2 minutes then add the reduced chicken (or turkey) broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Untie, slice and serve! Roast Turkey Breast with Traditional Stuffing will make everyone happy!
In a Nutshell:
- Brine the turkey breast half.
- Make the stuffing and divide it up (Some for breast, some baked).
- Start the gravy.
- Remove the turkey breast from the brine. Pat dry.
- Pound and stuff the breast. Secure with twine. Butter it up.
- Roast the turkey breast. Place the baking dish with the rest of the stuffing in the oven when there’s 30 minutes or so to go.
- Let the turkey breast rest and finish the gravy.
Chef Tips and Tricks:
- To speed up the brining process, butterfly the turkey breast before immersing in the brine. Because the turkey breast is halved, this will cut your brining time in half.
- After butterflying a turkey breast or chicken breast, I very lightly “score” the inside in a few places from top to bottom with the tip of a boning knife. This is going to help the breast lie flatter. On a turkey breast, I generally do three on each side while on a chicken breast, I would only do one or two (depending upon the size).
- When pounding any type of protein, it’s a good idea to cover it. I always use a gallon-size zipper-top bag because it’s thicker than plastic wrap which can tear very easily. Covering it keeps your mallet clean so you don’t get bits of protein in the crevices. Also, pounding chicken or turkey can spray tiny drops of moisture into the air or onto the counter. Even if you think your mallet didn’t touch the chicken or turkey, it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash it anyway to prevent any type of cross-contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Carryover cooking occurs when cooking larger cuts of meat and poultry. After removing the large cut of meat or poultry from the heat source, the temperature will actually continue to rise. Carryover cooking is why you want to take the turkey breast out at 160 degrees. The temperature will rise several more degrees to the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees.
You can do all of this 24 hours in advance, however, make sure the stuffing is thoroughly chilled before tying the breast. Filling a whole turkey should never be done ahead of time but roasting a whole stuffed turkey has fallen out of favor because of food safety concerns.
I like to go a little lower and slower on roasting a stuffed turkey breast which is 350 degrees. Anything lower and the skin will not brown. Anything higher, you risk having the stuffed turkey breast dry out.
More turkey recipes you’ll love!
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Roast Turkey Breast with Traditional Stuffing
- Oil or cooking spray for baking dish
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth preferably low-sodium
- 1 bag (12-ounce) herb-seasoned stuffing cubes or 2 boxes (6-ounce each) stuffing mix
- 1 large egg beaten
- Chopped fresh parsley optional
Turkey and Gravy
- 6 cups chicken broth or turkey broth, preferably low-sodium
- Canola oil for roasting pan
- 1 (2 ½ to 3-pound) boneless turkey breast half with the skin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, divided
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt if needed
- Brine the turkey per the linked recipe.
Make the Stuffing
- Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Heat the butter in a skillet or saute pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and celery and cook 5-6 minutes or until softened.
- Add the chicken (or turkey) broth and bring to a boil.
- Add the stuffing cubes or stuffing mix and stir. Turn the heat off, cover and let stand 5-10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Let cool to room temperature.
- Stir in the egg and add the parsley if using.
- Remove 2 cups of the stuffing. Transfer the rest to the prepared baking dish and refrigerate until needed.
Continue with the Turkey and Gravy
- Pour the chicken (or turkey) broth into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer and reduce while the turkey roasts. (You want to reduce it by approximately ⅓ or to 4 cups). Turn the heat off when that is accomplished.)
- Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or roasting pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Carefully butterfly the turkey breast, open it and lay it flat on a cutting board or another flat surface. With the tip of a boning knife, carefully and very lightly cut some shallow slits in the opened breast just to get it to lie flatter and create more surface area. Place a gallon-size zipper-top over the opened turkey breast and gently pound it with a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten it out some more.
- Season the flattened turkey breast with black pepper. Spread the reserved 2 cups of stuffing over the flattened breast, leaving a 1-inch border.
- Turn the right side of the turkey breast over the filling then bring the left side over. Secure with butcher's twine, making sure the filling is securely inside and the skin is nicely flattened and secured over the top of the breast.
- Place in the prepared roasting pan. Spread 4 tablespoons of the butter over the turkey breast. Roast for 1 hour. Baste with the buttery pan juices once during this time.
- Place the baking dish of the remaining stuffing in the oven alongside the turkey. Baste with the buttery pan juices while the oven door is open. Continue roasting the turkey for another 20-30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees IN THE CENTER OF THE STUFFING.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes. (Carryover cooking while resting will take the breast to 165 degrees.) Check the stuffing so it doesn't get overly browned and cover with aluminum foil or another cover if needed.
- Carefully pour any brown buttery drippings into a saucepan. (Avoid any that are overly browned.)
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the saucepan and melt over medium heat.
- Add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Pour in the reduced broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened. Season with salt and black pepper if needed.
- Slice the turkey breast and serve the stuffing and gravy with the turkey breast.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.