Tender and wonderfully succulent, my baked turkey breast with roasted garlic puts a deliciously savory spin on the traditional recipe. Seasoned with a scrumptious combination of smashed roasted garlic cloves and softened butter, plus a sprinkle of dried and fresh herbs, this crispy-skinned and juicy baked turkey breast is a delicious holiday favorite!
Turkey Breast With an Extra Flavorful Twist
Whether it's the holiday season, or whether we're simply in the mood for a bit of a departure from classic roasted chicken, a baked turkey breast is a fantastic centerpiece to create a truly delicious meal around...
Because roasting a whole turkey can be time consuming and a bit daunting, I tend to opt for turkey breasts these days since we tend to favor the mild flavor of the breast meat a bit more than the dark, and often aren't feeding too large of a crowd.
So one or two turkey breasts do the trick for our holiday meals or other festive occasions, feeding anywhere from four to eight people perfectly.
Over the years I've experimented with lots of different flavor profiles for my baked turkey breast recipes, from slightly sweet and savory glazed turkey breasts, to this more earthy and savory baked turkey breast with roasted garlic.
I love the buttery and herby notes that each slice is infused with, giving a slightly unique and mouthwatering twist to more traditional baked turkey breast, absolutely loaded with irresistible flavor.
My Recipe for Baked Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic and Thyme
A really wonderful thing about cooking with turkey breasts is that they are fairly quick to cook, taking on flavors with absolutely succulent results.
When seasoned well and baked with the skin on and the rib bones still attached, the breast meat turns out moist, tender and juicy, and brimming with whatever seasonings one has infused it with.
To infuse the turkey breast with an abundance of flavor, I combine the roasted garlic cloves (which I mash into a paste) with some softened, unsalted butter, and gently rub that combo under the skin, as well as over top of the turkey breast.
I also add a generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus a hefty dash of Italian seasoning (a dried, combo of Italian herbs) for depth.
All that's left is to roast the turkey breast until golden, crispy and cooked through, slice and serve!
Here's a glance at my baked turkey breast recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I cut the top off a large head (or two, smaller heads) of garlic, wrap it in foil, and roast for about 45 minutes.
- Once roasted, I squeeze the garlic cloves from their papers, and smash them with a fork or knife to create a paste.
- Next, I combine the roasted garlic paste with some softened butter, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- To apply the roasted garlic and butter mixture to the turkey, I carefully run my fingers between the breast meat and the skin, and gently separate them to create enough space to then rub the garlic butter mixture over the breast meat.
- Then, I rub a little of garlic butter over top of the turkey breast (on the skin), season with more salt and pepper, plus the Italian seasoning, and insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.
- I roast the breast until the temp reaches 165°, roughly 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes.
- To serve, I allow the baked turkey breast to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes, then slice, sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves, and serve.
Baked Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic
by Ingrid Beer
This succulent baked turkey breast with roasted garlic and thyme brings a delectably flavorful and savory twist to the holiday table!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 194 calories (per roughly 3 ½ ounces of turkey)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- 1 large head of garlic, top cut off (or 2 smaller heads)
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temp
- 2 ¾ to 3 pound turkey breast (bone-in and skin-on)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the cut head(s) of garlic, plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and wrap each tightly in a square of foil. Place the head(s) directly onto the middle oven rack (or use a small baking sheet), and roast for 45 minutes, until soft and golden-brown.
- Allow the head(s) to cool, and once the garlic can be handled, squeeze the roasted cloves from their papers, and mash into a paste using a knife or fork. Reduce the oven temp to 375°.
- Add the roasted garlic “paste” into a small dish, along with the softened butter, and blend the two together completely, along with a pinch of salt and pepper as well.
- Place your turkey breast onto a work surface, and gently place your fingers between the flesh and the skin, carefully pulling it apart. Then, add the garlic-butter underneath the skin, over the breast meat, spreading it liberally. Reserve about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the garlic butter, and then rub that over top of the skin as well.
- Next, add about ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, the Italian seasoning and the paprika to a small ramekin, and combine this seasoning mixture. Sprinkle it all over the top of the turkey, over the skin.
- Place a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, then place the breast onto a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake the turkey breast for roughly 1 hour and 15-20 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 165°.
- Allow the turkey breast to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing the meat. Then, sprinkle over the fresh thyme leaves, and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for my Baked Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic Recipe:
- 2 ¾ to 3 pound turkey breast to serve about four people: If you're planning on serving just a few people, then a skin-on and bone-in turkey breast that weighs roughly 2 ¾ to 3 pounds will work well. If you're planning on a larger crowd of 6 to 8, then opt for two turkey breasts, and double the recipe ingredients.
- Be gentle when separating the skin from the breast meat: To keep from tearing the turkey skin, be extra gentle when using your fingers to separate the skin from the breast meat. Separate just a little bit at a time until all of the skin is loosened. Then, you can carefully add the garlic butter and rub it in between the skin and breast meat, and pull the skin over nice and taught once finished, to cover the entire breast evenly.
- Marinate the turkey breast for a day or two ahead of time for added flavor: When preparing baked turkey breast, I'll often season it a day or two ahead of when I plan on baking it for deeper flavor and aroma. Just season the turkey breast with the butter and outer seasonings, then wrap well in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Remove a couple of hours before baking to bring to room temp.
- Use a digital thermometer for accurate internal temperature: Rather than go by time for this recipe, I recommend that you use a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast for accurate doneness. Use the time as a rough guide, but watch for an internal temperature of 165° to know your baked turkey breast is done.
- Slice the meat thin, directly from the bone: To keep muss and fuss to a minimum, I slice the baked turkey breast directly from the rib bones at an angle, nice and thin. I love my electric serrated knife for this, but using a sharp serrated knife or carving knife will work as well.
- Sides to serve with a baked turkey breast: I love these basic mashed potatoes, or these garlic mashed potatoes as an accompaniment, and drizzle over a good spoonful of my homemade gravy, as well! These baked Brussels sprouts with cider glaze are also fantastic, as well as this sauteed asparagus.
Hungry for more holiday-friendly recipes? Check out this Roast Turkey Breast with Orange-Honey Glaze, this Turkey Roulade, this Stuffing Recipe, this Cranberry Sauce, or this Pumpkin Pie!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2016, and has been updated with even more love!
This was by far the best turkey breast I've ever made! I've always thought a turkey breast was s great healthy option, but previous attempts were dry and boring. This recipe takes a lean meat and makes it succulent & delicious. Thanks!
The Cozy Apron
Hi L, I'm so happy to read that! Thanks so much for sharing that with me—I'm thrilled it turned out for you & that you enjoyed it. Yes, turkey can be a bit boring on it's own, so proper seasoning & preparation is always helpful.
I'm making this now. I did a little different seasoning. Only because I was going to cook it yesterday in my slow cooker, prepared it with a rub & then realized it wasn't going to fit into the pot so the lid wouldn't go on. So I wrapped it up good & tried this today! It smells so amazing in here & it's only been in for less than 45 minutes.
The Cozy Apron
Lisa, hope it turned out as delicious for you as it was aromatic & enticing during the cooking!
Sounds amazing! I am considering making this for thanksgiving instead of a full turkey. We are having 15 People, how many Breast would you recommend?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Tiffini, I'm excited you're considering preparing this recipe! I would use about 4 turkey breasts at about that 2 1/2 - 3 pound size; I have this recipe serving 4, so if you multiply it by 4 that would serve roughly 16.
Do you roast turkey breast, covered with tinfoil or uncovered?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Sandra, I roast it uncovered for crispy skin.
Can I use smoked paprika? Or is it better with regular paprika?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Vanessa, wonderful question.
If all you have on hand is the smoked variety, please feel free to use it. If you have the regular, then I'd suggest that, only because the smoked has a very specific flavor that could possibly dominant the roasted garlic flavor with more smoky notes. (However, if you think that you might actually prefer that flavor profile, then by all means, use the smoked!) 🙂
Either way, I hope your enjoy.
Great! Thank you so much! I have both, but I love smoked paprika. That makes sense, it would be over powering. Just thought I would ask. Have a great Easter!
Great recipe! I think that it even qualifies as a 'low carb' recipe too. Thanks!
The Cozy Apron
I'm cooking a 9 pound turkey breast. Would you double the seasoning? Also, how long would you cook a nine pounder?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Ines, that's a big turkey breast, haha!
Yes, I would at least double the seasoning. I'd actually go ahead and roast off 3 heads of garlic until soft and sweet, and go maybe 2 1/2 times to amount of dry seasoning/salt/pepper, since your turkey breast is pretty much triple the size of the one called for in my recipe.
As far as time, I always recommend using a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast. That's the ONLY way to go to ensure perfectly cooked meat, not overcooked nor undercooked (and you're looking for 165°). But an estimate for time would be about 3 hours, based on the roughly 20-minute-per-pound-of-meat "rule" for turkey (but please do not rely on that).
Hope this helps, and I hope you and your loved ones thoroughly enjoy!
Where can I find the gravy recipe that goes with this turkey breast?
Hi Becky, you can find my gravy recipe by clicking here. 🙂