Best Roasted Turkey Breast

In this special post I am happy to introduce my amazing Mom — it's only fitting since she taught me all I know about cooking and baking. She is a great cook and baker and I hope to feature more of her recipes here in days to come.

Hi there! A few days ago as I was telling Kristin (bragging really) how I made an absolutely delicious roasted turkey breast, she asked me to write a guest post. Of course, I was happy to say yes.

This recipe started when I was trying to come up with something easy for dinner that would also leave enough leftovers for another meal. I had been craving turkey, but I never cook it because it's such a big production. A whole roasted turkey isn't hard to do, but it takes a long time and is way too much food for two people. Still, I thought there must be a way to satisfy my craving without the big mess.

And that's when I got to thinking about how I could roast just half a turkey breast. The problem I've run into before is that it tends to be dry and not very flavorful. I thought the solution might be to roast it on a bed of vegetables which could release enough moisture during cooking to keep the meat moist. Then I remembered reading a recipe (wish I could remember where) that used a few fresh bay leaves to flavor a turkey. So I combined those two ideas and the recipe that follows is the result of my brainstorm. It was truly delicious, moist and flavorful. Though I was too tired to bother, I think you could make a nice gravy from the drippings and vegetables in the pan.

One caution, the fresh bay leaves impart a very strong bay flavor to the meat. You may want to cut back on the amount in the recipe if that's not your favorite flavor. You could substitute sprigs of rosemary and/or other fresh herbs. Any of those choices will give you a wonderfully flavorful, moist turkey breast.

Best Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1/2 turkey breast (pastured meat if you can get it)
  • 4 - 5 celery stalks, cut into 4" lengths
  • 3 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 4" pieces
  • 1/2 lg. onion, sliced
  • 4 - 5 lg. fresh bay leaves — adjust quantity to your preference
  • 2 -3 tbs. butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. herb mix, see note
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat turkey breast dry. Lay the celery and carrots in alternating rows on the bottom of a roasting pan to create a kind of vegetable rack to support the turkey breast. Scatter onions on top of the vegetables, then lay the bay leaves on top of the "rack."
Place turkey breast on top of vegetables and bay leaves, skin side up. Scatter butter pieces over the turkey breast. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herb mix.
Roast in preheated oven for 18 - 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 165 degrees — use an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. (Alternately, you can make a small slice into the thickest part of the meat, if the juices run clear, not pink, it is done. This is not the preferred method for checking doneness because if you need to cook it longer, the juices will run from the cut while it continues to cook.)
Remove from oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
This will make enough for dinner for two people, plus enough for a turkey salad the next day.
Note: many years ago I bought a spice mixed called "Fines Herbs." It was discontinued quite a while ago, so now I mix my own. I've never use the same amount of the various spices, but here is a rough idea of how to prepare this mixture: In a small bowl mix 2 tbs. thyme, 1 tbs. oregano, 1 tsp. ground sage, 1 tsp. marjoram, 1 tsp. basil. You could also add a teaspoon of rosemary. (Sadly, I never use it because Kristin's dad hates it. He can detect the smallest amounts like a drug-sniffing dog.) Adjust the quantities of each spice to your liking. It's really delicious. I use it for our Thanksgiving turkey and on whole roasted chicken.