This roasted turkey breast uses a blend of butter, fresh citrus zest, and herbs to infuse the meat with flavor and keep it tender and juicy.

Slices of roasted turkey breast and unsliced turkey on a serving platter.

This beautiful roasted turkey breast owes its juicy texture and fabulous flavor to an easy-to-make compound butter spread under the skin before roasting. Fresh ingredients are the key, and the flavorful ingredients in our compound butter include fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, orange zest, and lemon zest.

The Perfect Turkey Recipe for a Small Crowd

When you’re entertaining a small group of friends or family for a holiday meal, opting to serve a turkey breast instead of a whole bird will minimize your time in the kitchen and leave you with fewer leftovers.

Turkey breasts can vary in weight from 4 to 9 pounds, with the average falling in the 5 to 7-pound range. If you are making a traditional holiday dinner with all the side dishes (i.e. stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.), allow for 3/4 to 1 pound of turkey per person. This should still leave you with some leftovers.

Slices of roasted turkey breast on a cutting board with carving knife and lemon and orange rounds.

How to Make This Recipe

Here is an overview of how this roasted turkey breast is made. Exact ingredient quantities and detailed instructions are included in the printable recipe below.

  1. You want to start the turkey breast off in a hot oven so preheat to 425°F (cooking at a higher heat for a short period of time improves browning).
  2. Remove your turkey breast from its wrapper, drain any excess juices, and thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels.
  3. Season liberally with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine softened butter with chopped fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram, lemon zest, orange zest and Dijon-style mustard until well blended.
  5. Separate the skin of the turkey breast from the flesh. Being careful not to tear or detach it completely, work your fingers under the skin of the turkey breast to loosen it from the meat.
  6. Rub about 2/3 of the butter mixture between the skin and the meat as evenly as possible, then smooth the skin back in place. Rub the remaining butter mixture on the outside of the skin.
  7. Position the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan and pour some low-sodium chicken broth into the bottom of the pan.
  8. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 20 minutes at 425°F.
  9. Rotate the roasting pan in the oven to ensure even browning and reduce the temperature to 325°F.
  10. How long you continue roasting depends on the weight of your turkey breast, but on average, an additional 40 minutes to 1-1/4 hours should be about right.
  11. Baste the breast with the pan juices every 20 minutes and start checking for doneness after 1 hour (including the first 20 minutes at the higher heat).
  12. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F.
  13. Once done, remove the turkey breast from the oven and reserve the pan juices for gravy if desired.
  14. Tent the turkey loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  15. For safety, check to be sure the temperature rose to 165°F during resting.

Menu Suggestions

If you’re trying to do a classic holiday dinner for a group of four to six guests, we suggest the following side dishes:

Platter of roasted turkey breast with citrus herb butter, serving fork and rosemary and thyme garnish

More Turkey Breast Recipes

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Roasted Turkey Breast with Citrus-Herb Butter

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This roasted turkey breast uses a blend of butter, fresh citrus zest, and herbs to infuse the meat with flavor and keep it tender and juicy.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 to 7 lb turkey breast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more for gravy

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Drain any excess juices from the turkey breast and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Combine the butter, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, lemon zest, orange zest and mustard in small bowl until well blended.
  • Being careful not to tear or detach it completely, work your fingers under the skin of the turkey breast to loosen it from the meat.
  • Rub about 2/3 of the butter mixture between the skin and the meat as evenly as possible, then smooth the skin back in place. Rub the remaining butter mixture on the outside of the skin.
  • Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan and pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 20 minutes at 425°F, then rotate the roasting pan in the oven to ensure even browning and reduce the temperature to 325°F.
  • Depending on the weight of the breast, continue roasting for 40 minutes to 1-1/4 hours, basting with the pan juices every 20 minutes. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F.
  • Remove the turkey breast from the oven, reserve the pan juices for gravy (see below). Tent loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving. For safety, check to be sure the temperature rose to 165°F during resting.

To Make Pan Gravy:

  • While the turkey is resting, skim any excess fat from the pan juices and transfer to a 4 cup measure. Add enough extra chicken broth to equal 3 cups of liquid total.
  • Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/3 cup water.
  • Add to the simmering broth and continue whisking just until thickened and smooth.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Transfer to a bowl or gravy boat for serving.

Tips for Making This Recipe

This recipe can easily be used on a whole turkey – just use 1-1/2 times the quantity on the ingredients and follow instructions for roasting a whole bird.
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