Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast

10 to 14 servings

I got a little touch of Thanksgiving fever just now, and because I am not making the turkey this year, I felt compelled to make a pre-Thanksgiving bird.  But not the whole bird, just the breast, which seemed a bit more manageable and less insane than roasting a whole bird just days before Thanksgiving.  I’m also developing a recipe for brussels sprouts for Sam’s Club.  So, tonight, we’ll be having a weird dry run for Thanksgiving while everyone watches the Patriots game.

  • 1 6-pound pound turkey breast
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoons dried thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Rinse and dry the turkey breast.  Oil a roasting pan.

2. In a small food processor, combine the lemon zest, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Blend until it becomes a paste.

3. Loosen the skin from the turkey breast, and using your hand rub the paste over and under the skin, covering the breast completely.

4. Place the turkey breast in the roasting pan and roast for about 2 1/2 hours until nicely browned, and a meat thermometer shows an internal temperature of 160° F.  Let sit for 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute, and for the internal temperature to continue to rise to 165°F before slicing.

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6 thoughts on “Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast”

  1. Sally says:

    Sounds great, especially for a small Thanksgiving. About the Patriots game — well, I’m from Indianapolis. :-(

    1. You can still come eat turkey at our house, we’re not exclusionary.

  2. maxine says:

    Sounds great! I can’t wait to try it. What is lemon zest?

    1. Lemon zest is the brightly colored outer skin of the lemon. you can take it off with a vegetable peeler, and mince it, or use a zester or microplane specifically designed for that purpose. Either way, make sure to only take off the very bright outer layer, and not dig into the white at all, which is called pitch, and is quite bitter.

  3. Jay Cohen says:

    Katie, love the rub recipe, but notice you pull the breast at 170. Did your meat still come out moist, as I would pull at 160ish, knowing that it would still rise 5+ or so.
    Thanks for the great website!!

    1. You are totally right. I had an uncharacteristic burst of adhering too firmly to the FDA guidelines. It’s true, the temperature does continue to climb after you remove the food from the oven, which is called carryover cooking – that is 100% right. So, I would take it out at 160, and let it climb to 165 as you suggest. That’s probably what I did, only in writing the recipe (and knowing NPR was going to link to it), I stuck with the FDA super-safe recommended temp, but in the end, it’s truly about a moist breast, not overcautious food safety, right? (Unless there are babies or old people or sick people at the table- then, err on the side of super safety.) Thanks for making this point.

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