Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic Herb Sauce

4.85 from 13 votes
8 hours
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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic Herb Sauce is perfect for a small-scale holiday or a nice family dinner any day of the year. Best of all, it’s easy and totally make-ahead! Perfect with Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes on the side and my Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes for dessert!

“It was delicious! … So much better than the dry roast turkey we often get at Thanksgiving!”

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce on white oval platter garnished with fresh herbs.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Planning a small-scale Thanksgiving or Christmas?

When a whole turkey or whole stuffed turkey recipe for your holiday is too much, a stuffed turkey breast is about the right amount for four to six people and you may still have leftovers.

I’ve been making this Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast recipe for clients for about as long as I’ve been a personal chef and they always request it again and again because it doesn’t seem or taste “Thanksgiving-ey.”

This stuffed turkey breast recipe with a savory spinach and cheese filling with a garlic and herb sauce is:

  • Elegant.
  • Fuss-free. The filling mixes up with no need to cook it first.
  • Completely make ahead!

Let’s make it!

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce on white platter with serving fork.

How to Make Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic Herb Sauce:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe along with how to prep. See the stuffed turkey breast and sauce recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • 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. 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 another meal.
  • Shallot: Shallots are a member of the onion family and have a mild oniony flavor with a hint of garlic. Regular onion can be used instead if you prefer.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Use the best whole milk ricotta cheese you can find. I like Murray’s or Calabro. Avoid store brands; they’re not very good.
  • Spinach: Frozen chopped spinach is a terrific convenience product because it’s already cooked and you can easily see the amount you’ll end up with. Fresh spinach may be used, but cook it first and be sure to drain it thoroughly and remove as much moisture as possible from it. With frozen chopped spinach, there is still a substantial amount of water so squeeze it before combining the filling.
  • Parmesan Cheese: May also use Asiago or Romano.
  • Dry White Wine: Use a good dry white wine that you enjoy drinking. A bad wine only gets worse when cooked and reduced. NON-ALCOHOLIC SUBSTITUTION: Use an alcohol-free wine or use extra chicken broth with a teaspoon or two of white wine vinegar added to it.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • First, butterfly the turkey breast. You want to do this before brining so the brine has thinner flesh to permeate which means the process is faster. (You may also be able to get your butcher to do this.). Start on the thick rounded side and make a horizontal cut through the middle to within one inch of the other side. Try not to create any holes. I like to save the skin and roll and stuff a turkey breast with it so the meat retains as much moisture as possible.
  • I highly recommend brining the turkey breast before roasting because white turkey meat can be very dry. Be sure the turkey breast you’re using hasn’t been treated or injected with anything. This easy turkey brine recipe works perfectly with this recipe or use the recipe below.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove turkey from the brine, pat dry and spread out flat. Gently pound it out to flatten it some more.
  • Season with salt and black pepper.
Butterflied turkey breast seasoned with salt and pepper on white plastic cutting board.
  • Combine the shallot, ricotta, Parmesan, spinach, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  • Spread stuffing ingredients over the inside of the turkey breast to within 1-inch of the edge.
  • Roll up to enclose the filling.
  • Smooth the skin over the top of the breast.
  • Secure with butcher’s twine. Make individual ties or loop the twine around and thread it through the loop.
  • Place the turkey breast in a roasting pan. Dot the top with butter, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers at least 160 degrees in the center. Baste or brush the turkey breast at least twice with the pan drippings while it’s baking.
  • Tent and let rest for 5-10 minutes. (The temperature will continue to rise to a safe temperature of 165 degrees.)
Cooked turkey breast in white roasting pan.
  • While the turkey breast is roasting, make the Garlic Herb Sauce.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  • Add wine and continue whisking for 1 minute.
  • Slowly add the chicken broth and cream.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add the garlic and herbs.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add any pan drippings from roasting the turkey to the sauce.
  • Slice the turkey breast into 1/2-inch slices and serve the Garlic – Herb Sauce with the turkey.
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce on white oval platter with serving utensils.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Although roasting at a higher temperature will help brown the skin better, I prefer to roast a stuffed turkey recipe a little lower and slower at 350 degrees because I think it helps keep the meat moist. Be sure to baste the turkey breast at least twice while baking with the pan drippings.
  • Don’t waste those pan drippings! Pour them into the sauce for more flavor!
  • It’s best to allow proteins to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. When the protein rests, juices redistribute and get absorbed back into the meat fibers.
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce garnished with fresh herbs on white platter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you brine a turkey / turkey breast?

Because white turkey breast meat can be dry, I first brine the butterflied turkey breast in a water, salt and sugar solution.  Make sure the turkey has not been injected or flavored in any way. Brining works well for lean proteins by enhancing juiciness.  Because protein and muscle fibers absorb liquid during the brining process, they start off juicier and will then end up juicier as long as the protein is not overcooked.  The ratio of water, salt and sugar in brines is based on weight and can vary, along with the timing.

What is the safe temperature for cooking a turkey?

The safe temperature for poultry is 165 degrees.  Keep in mind that with large pieces of protein, there is “carryover” cooking. That means the temperature will continue to rise even though the protein has been removed from the heat source. I highly recommend removing the stuffed turkey breast 5 degrees shy of the safe cooking temperature at 160 degrees so when the temperature continues to rise, it won’t go over. The turkey breast should stay at 165 degrees for 15 seconds in order to be considered “safe.”

How long does it take to cook a turkey breast roll/roulade?

It will depend on the size of the roll/roulade but in a 350-degree oven, it will take 1 to 1 1/2 hours for a 2 to 2 1/2-pound turkey breast. Remember, you want it to register at least 160 degrees in the center. Carryover cooking will take it to the safe temperature of 165 degrees.

For a delicious alternative filling, stuff the roast turkey breast with my Sausage Stuffing with Fennel and Leeks.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce showing filling garnished with fresh herbs.

Storage:

  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Consume leftovers within 4 to 5 days for best results.
  • The cooked or uncooked stuffed turkey breast can be frozen. Wrap securely and freeze for 1 to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
  • If freezing cooked slices, place them in airtight freezer containers and drizzle with some of the Garlic Herb Sauce to keep the meat moist.

Serve with:

Variations:

  • Add feta cheese for a Greek twist!
  • Use other greens such as kale in place of the spinach.
  • Add artichokes to the filling.

More Turkey Recipes You’ll Love!

Get more great entertaining and holiday ideas at: Holiday Ideas – From A Chef’s Kitchen

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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic - Herb Sauce on white oval platter garnished with fresh herbs.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic Herb Sauce

4.85 from 13 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Turkey Breast with Garlic Herb Sauce is perfect for a small-scale holiday or a nice family dinner any day of the year. Best of all, it's easy and totally make-ahead!
Prep Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 8 hours
Course Chicken and Turkey
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 575 kcal

Ingredients
  

Turkey Breast

  • 6 cups hot tap water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 (2 to 2 1/2 pound) boneless turkey breast half - with the skin if desired, butterflied
  • 1 small shallot - finely chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese - whole milk or part-skim
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag (12-ounce) frozen chopped spinach - thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Garlic Herb Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth - or as needed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste

Instructions
 

Turkey

  • Butterfly the turkey breast. Start on the thick rounded side and make a horizontal cut through the middle to within one inch of the other side. Try not to create any holes.
  • Brine the turkey breast. Combine hot tap water, sugar and kosher salt in a large bowl. Mix well and wait for the water to clear and the sugar and salt to dissolve. Place turkey breast in the brine and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove turkey from the brine, pat dry and spread out flat. Gently pound it out to flatten it some more. Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Combine shallot, ricotta, Parmesan, spinach, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  • Spread stuffing ingredients over the inside of turkey breast to within 1-inch of the edge.
  • Roll up to enclose the filling. Smooth the skin over the top of the breast. Secure with butcher’s twine.
  • Place the turkey breast in a roasting pan. Dot the top with butter and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers at least 160 degrees in the center. Baste or brush the turkey breast at least twice with the pan drippings while it's baking.
  • Tent and let rest 5-10 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch slices and serve with sauce.

Garlic Herb Sauce

  • Melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  • Add wine and continue whisking 1 minute.
  • Slowly add the chicken broth, cream and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add any pan drippings from roasting the turkey to the sauce.
  • Serve sauce with turkey breast.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Turkey can be brined and assembled 1 day ahead of time.  Refrigerate until needed then bake as directed.
VARIATIONS:
  • Add feta cheese for a Greek twist!
  • Use other greens such as kale in place of the spinach.
  • Add artichokes to the filling.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:   The cooked or uncooked stuffed turkey breast can be frozen. Wrap securely and freeze for 1 to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.  If freezing cooked slices, place in airtight freezer containers and drizzle with some of the Garlic Herb Sauce to keep the meat moist.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 15071mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1035IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 356mg | Iron: 2mg

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.

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4.85 from 13 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this tonight – actually I made two because I bought a whole turkey breast. It was delicious! I think the brining was key. I added a little feta which gave it an extra tang. So much better than the dry roast Turkey we often get at Thanksgiving!

  2. Am I reading this correctly- just 1/2 of the boneless turkey breast? Sounds wonderful and just about the right size for 2 of us and love the stuffing. We eat a fair amount of turkey and this sounds great..

    1. Hi, Winnie, Thanks so much for your question! All you need is one side of the turkey breast, like one chicken breast. There are two halves per breast when removed from the breastbone so all you need is one half unless you want to double the recipe and do both. Thanks again and hope that helps!

    1. Hi, Kita, Thanks so much! We seldom ever do a whole turkey any more because, well, it’s a whole turkey! For two people, it’s just too much! Thanks again!

  3. I am going to make this for tonight, I wonder what the nutrition value is, trying to cut down on the fat, but not the good ones mind you. Thank you for sharng this mouth watering recipe.

    1. Hi, Peggy, I just updated the information. I just changed my recipe format and some information didn’t migrate. It seems high to me, but you can cut the calories by using lower fat ricotta. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  4. Hi Carol ,
    I am making this for thanksgiving 🙂

    How long would i cook this for if i wanted the oven temp to be at 400 degrees?
    thank you , 🙂 i have only one oven and am also making scalloped potatoes and they need to cook at 400 degrees but i want everything to be ready at the same time
    thanks again !
    Britany

    1. Hi, Brittany, Thanks for your question. 400 degrees seems kind of high for scalloped potatoes because of the dairy but if you’re starting from raw then it’s probably right. The turkey breast takes at least an hour at 350 degrees so you should be able to bake both alongside each other. However, there’s nothing more frustrating than potatoes that refuse to cook in a baked dish such as scalloped potatoes. Been there, done that! Obviously I haven’t seen the recipe you’re using, but I like to use waxy potatoes such as Yukon Gold in scalloped potatoes. Starchy potatoes such as Russets can fall apart. I slice the Yukons, then gently cook them in salted water until I can just pierce them with a knife. Drain, cool and then layer as you would in your scalloped potato recipe. If you’ve got that head start on the potatoes, both should bake together just fine at 350 degrees.

      1. Carol,
        I love this answer! It is so wonderful to see comments from real readers asking for help and then thoughtful answers from the blogger.
        So often comments are generic and nondescript. This was anything but.
        So much so that I just had to comment and say ‘YEAH’ this is food blogging done right 😀

        p.s the turkey looks amazing too 🙂