Learn how to make the BEST oven roasted half turkey breast recipe coated in savory herb butter. You'll never make a whole turkey again since our bone-in split turkey breast recipe is so simple and delicious! It's a Whole Lotta Yum!
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What is a Half Turkey Breast or Split Turkey Breast?
A half turkey breast, also known as a split turkey breast, is one side of the breast meat of the turkey, either with or without the bone. Usually, when you buy bone-in turkey breasts it includes both breasts.
If you picture a whole turkey in your mind, and then imagine removing just one half of the breast portion, that's what a half or split turkey breast looks like. It's a fantastic option when you're cooking for a smaller crowd, don't want two turkey breasts, or are looking for easy turkey recipes for Thanksgiving or any holiday meal.
Split Turkey Breast
Now that my husband and I are empty nesters and our adult kids live in different states for school and work, we no longer need a full size turkey for every Thanksgiving!
We found a half turkey breast at Trader Joe's and knew it was the perfect solution. A split turkey breast is bone-in skin on and it makes the perfect option for a holiday dinner that's much easier to cook than a whole turkey.
I'll be first to admit that the green herb butter sort of looks like guacamole when you spread it on before baking, but after roasting the bone in turkey breast in the oven you get golden brown crispy skin, juicy meat, and adds a flavor you wouldn't believe.
You can use this same recipe for roasted turkey breast but adapt it to a smoked turkey breast recipe too. Or you can follow the baking instructions and instead of the herb butter, make a paste with our smoked turkey dry rub with olive oil.
Why You'll Love This Split Turkey Recipe!
- The bone in turkey breast is so easy! Just make the herb butter and spread it on the top.
- Perfect when you're serving a small group like 4 people or less for a holiday meal
- It gets coated in a super flavorful fresh herb butter that tastes so delicious
- The roasted turkey breast cooks quickly roasted in the oven
Split Turkey Breast in Oven Ingredients
Don't gasp at the amount of fresh herbs in this recipe! Around Thanksgiving, you can buy a mixed herb pack meant for stuffing a turkey. We bought one of those and then added fresh parsley and fresh basil. Use a mixture of whatever you want!
You could even try dried herbs but the conversion for that is 1 tablespoon fresh herbs equals 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. Although, we have not tested our half turkey breast recipe using dried herbs.
- 1 bone-in skin on turkey breast (often called a half turkey breast or split breast) (about 2-3 lbs) - ours was a Trader Joe's half turkey breast, another popular option is the Empire half turkey breast.
- 1 stick of salted butter, softened. 1/ c cup or 4 oz
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
Cooking a Half Turkey Breast
This simple yet impressive turkey breast recipe is as easy as making a fresh herb butter, spreading it on the turkey, and then baking the turkey until it's cooked through.
Bring Turkey to Room Temp
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Approximately 30 minutes before the half turkey breast recipe goes in the oven, place the turkey skin-side up in an appropriately-sized roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Leave it out at room temperature.
Make the Herb Butter Mixture
While the turkey is coming to room temp, blend the softened butter, oil, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper together in a food processor or blender. The resulting butter/oil mix may have a bright green color but this will change to a golden brown color during cooking.
Prep the Turkey
Pat the bone in turkey breast dry with a paper towel.
Loosen the skin of the turkey breast to prepare it for seasoning (to be added to both the turkey meat and skin). Start by sliding your fingers between the meat and the skin at either end of the breast and then slowly separate the meat and skin.
Using your fingers to push the herb butter mixture beneath the loosened skin, place one-quarter of the butter mixture between the skin and turkey breast meat, coating the meat as evenly and thoroughly as possible.
Place another ¼ of the butter mix on the outside of the turkey breast. Reserve the second half of the butter mix for additional basting to occur approximately one hour into the cooking time.
Half Turkey Breast Cooking Time
Put the bone in turkey breast in the preheated for approximately 20 minutes per pound, until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160-162 degrees Fahrenheit. After it is pulled out of the oven, cover the turkey breast with tin foil and let the turkey rest for approximately 10 minutes.
The roasted turkey breast will continue to cook during the rest period. It is ready to serve when an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast meat reaches 165 F.
Remove the turkey meat from the bone and slice it against the grain of the meat with a sharp knife into approximately ½-inch thick slices. Leave the crispy skin on when serving. Move the slices to a platter, garnish, and serve your oven roasted turkey breast. Enjoy!
Recipe Tips for Roast Half Turkey Breast
- Depending on the color and freshness of the herbs you use for the basting butter, the butter itself may appear green (even vibrant green similar to guacamole) as seen in the pictures for this recipe. This green color will dissipate as the turkey cooks and our result was a juicy turkey breast with a lovely brown skin and herbed butter that dripped down between and flavored each slice of turkey as it was cut.
- Roast the bone-in turkey breast for approximately 20 minutes per pound. Oven temperatures vary, so specific cooking times may vary from those shown in this recipe.
- According to the USDA, turkey breast is considered safe to eat at an internal temperature of 165 F. We highly recommend using a digital meat thermometer to check the temp and not overcook (or undercook) your turkey.
- We went with a strong herb flavor, feel free to cut back on fresh herbs.
Recipe Variations for Bone In Turkey Breast
Here are a few ways you can season your split turkey breast:
- Brine it beforehand for extra juicy flavorful meat.
- Use our simple turkey seasoning rub
- Skip the herb butter and baste the roasted turkey breast with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and olive oil like we did with our air fryer turkey breast recipe.
- Use a Cajun rub on your bone in turkey breast
- Sprinkle the split turkey breast with an easy homemade poultry seasoning.
What to Serve with Turkey Breast?
Here's some of our popular Thanksgiving and holiday sides to serve with your roasted turkey breast!
- Sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows!)
- Instant Pot Mashed potatoes
- Sausage apple sage stuffing
- Green bean casserole with cream cheese
- Crockpot cranberry sauce
- Make ahead gravy
- Corn casserole (Jiffy)
- Best Ever Pumpkin Pie
- Broccoli cauliflower salad with bacon
FAQ's for Roasted Turkey Breast
Can I use a whole turkey breast for this recipe?
Absolutely! If you're cooking for more people, a whole turkey breast is a great option. You'll just need to adjust the cooking time accordingly, cooking it approximately 20 minutes per pound, but always make sure the internal temperature reaches the safe mark of 165°F (74°C).
Can I make this recipe with a boneless turkey breast?
Yes, you can use boneless turkey breast in this recipe. Keep in mind that boneless breasts often cook faster than bone-in, so you'll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly and check the temperature regularly to avoid overcooking.
We highly recommend using an inexpensive instant read meat thermometer!
Can I cook a frozen turkey breast for this recipe?
It is recommended to fully thaw your turkey breast before baking for even cooking. A frozen turkey breast can take longer to cook and may not cook evenly, which could potentially make it unsafe to eat. Always plan ahead and thaw your turkey breast in the refrigerator before you plan to cook it.
Can I brine the split turkey breast before baking?
Yes, you can definitely brine the roasted turkey breast prior to baking for added flavor as long as you purchased a split turkey breast that didn't already come in a brine. We have a super simple turkey brine recipe you can make the day before roasting the split turkey breast recipe. Be sure to follow food safety guidelines when brining poultry, and never reuse the brine that has come into contact with raw turkey.
More Turkey Recipes
If you're looking for split turkey breast recipes or half turkey breast recipes for the holidays, this is a fantastic option everyone will love!