Roast Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic Gravy

A roast turkey breast is the perfect size for a small gathering. This one is easy and has a bonus homemade roasted garlic gravy recipe, too!

Roast Turkey Breast with Garlic Gravy
Elise Bauer

Unless you want turkey leftovers for weeks, you might be better off cooking just a part of a turkey.

In this recipe, we are cooking just the turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on, and making a rich, creamy gravy with drippings from a couple of turkey wings.

Want even juicier turkey? Try brining your turkey before cooking!

Why Roast Turkey Breast Is a Winner

The way my brother Eddie tells it, he and a college friend decided to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving one year.

The day before Thanksgiving, Eddie went out and bought a 25 pound turkey, frozen, and put it in the fridge to defrost. (Can you see where this is going?)

When it came time to cook the turkey, he took it out of its plastic wrapping, only to discover that the bird was still completely frozen.

Rock hard.

Undaunted (due either to the unchecked optimism that accompanies that time in life, or to beer addled judgment, and probably a little of both), Eddie went about cooking the turkey anyway. Heck, what's a little frozen meat that a hot oven can't overcome?

Into the oven the turkey went.

When it came time to eat, my brother pulled out of the oven a beautifully roasted, browned all over turkey.

Success! thought my brother, hungry by now for the bird that had been roasting for several hours and filling the house with that wonderful aroma of Thanksgiving. A few friends had gathered as well, waiting for the feast to come.

Then it came time to carve.

Ed took out his longest, sharpest chef's knife and aiming for the breast, cut in. Or tried to. As he tells it, he got about one inch in before the knife bumped up against rock hard, stone cold, frozen turkey.

Or maybe it was a half-inch.

In any case, from what I understand they gave up and went out for Chinese.

Roast Turkey Breast with Garlic Gravy
Elise Bauer

Why Cook a Turkey Breast Instead of a Whole Turkey?

The obvious moral of this story is to allow your bird plenty of time to defrost. A 15-pound turkey will take about 3 days in the fridge to defrost, a 25-pound turkey, about 5 days.

The less obvious moral to this story, and the point of the following recipe, is why cook a 25-pound turkey when you are only feeding 4 to 5 people?

How to Reheat Turkey Breast

After sitting in the refrigerator for a day or so, leftover turkey breast can begin to dry out. Follow these tips to reheat it and add a little moisture back.

Oven method

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Reheat slices, not large chunks. If you haven't sliced all the turkey breast up yet, do so before reheating.
  • Add the slices to a baking dish. Drizzle some turkey or chicken stock over them.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil.
  • Heat for about 20 minutes, until the turkey reaches 165°F.
  • Serve with leftover gravy that's been reheated by bringing it to a rolling boil.

Microwave method

  • Add turkey breast slices to a microwave safe plate.
  • Drizzle with turkey or chicken stock.
  • Cover with a microwave safe cover.
  • Reheat on medium power. Time will vary depending on how many slices you are reheating. Start checking for doneness at about a minute and a half. Turkey is fully reheated when it reaches 165°F.

What Else Can Be Used for the Gravy?

If you can't find turkey wings, try any of these. Note: Be sure you're purchasing fresh poultry parts and not smoked ones.

  • Turkey legs
  • Turkey drumsticks
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken legs
  • Chicken drumsticks

Will This Recipe Work With Boneless Turkey Breast?

This recipe will not work with a boneless breast. The bones and the skin add a ton of flavor that'll be missing with a boneless breast. If you're looking for a good boneless turkey breast recipe, try Chard and Prosciutto Stuffed Turkey Breast or Stuffed Turkey Breast with Bacon, Cranberry, Breadcrumb Stuffing.

5 Side Dishes for a Small Gathering

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Roast Turkey Breast with Roasted Garlic Gravy

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Servings 6 to 8 servings

For a 6 to 7 pound bone-in turkey breast, it will take about 2 days, a full 48 hours, to defrost in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

Roasted Garlic Gravy:

  • 2 fresh (unsmoked) turkey wings

  • 2 whole heads garlic

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground pepper (preferably white pepper), to taste

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons flour

Turkey Breasts:

  • 1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (with 2 breast halves), about 6 to 7 pounds

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt, as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Method

  1. Preheat the oven and prep the turkey wings:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Chop the turkey wings into pieces with a cleaver or heavy kitchen knife (or have your butcher do this for you).

    Coat the wings with some olive oil and salt well. Arrange in one layer in a roasting pan.

    turkey wings to make turkey gravy
    Elise Bauer
    chopped turkey wings in pan
    Elise Bauer
  2. Roast the garlic and chopped turkey wings:

    Slice off the top 1/4 of the garlic heads and discard. Nestle the heads into some aluminum foil and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the garlic. Close the foil and place in the roasting pan with the turkey wings.

    Put the pan in the oven and roast at 350°F for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic (do not unwrap), turn the turkey pieces and roast another 15 minutes.

    slice top off of garlic head, pour over with olive oil
    Elise Bauer
    arrange foil wrapped garlic and chopped turkey wings in roasting pan
    Elise Bauer
  3. Remove the moisture from the turkey breast and let it sit:

    While the turkey wings are roasting, take the turkey breast out of its package and pat the outside dry with paper towels. Sit it on a plate or board that will catch any juice that runs out until you need it in Step 5.

    raw turkey breast before roasting
    Elise Bauer
  4. Make the turkey wing stock:

    When the turkey wings are ready, remove them from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Place the cooked wings in a medium pot and cover with water.

    roasted turkey wings
    Elise Bauer
    cover roasted turkey wings with water
    Elise Bauer

    Add a cup of water to the roasting pan and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add this to the pot with the turkey wings. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.

    scrape up roasted turkey wing drippings
    Elise Bauer
    simmer turkey wings to make turkey stock
    Elise Bauer
  5. Roast the turkey breast:

    While the wings are simmering, coat the turkey breast with more olive oil, then sprinkle it all over with salt. Sprinkle it as well with black pepper, thyme and sage.

    Place the turkey breast skin side up in the 425°F oven on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pan (this will help prevent the oven from smoking).

    Put the turkey in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350°F and cook until the thickest part of the breast reads 155°F with a meat thermometer, about 80-90 minutes for a 6 to 7 pound breast. To be on the safe side to keep from overcooking the turkey, check the internal temperature of the breast after 1 hour.

    Note: USDA guidelines recommend cooking chicken to 165°F or until no longer pink in the middle. However, we prefer to remove the turkey breast from the oven at 155°F. The turkey should reach 165°F as it rests; check with an instant-read thermometer.

    seasoned turkey breast
    Elise Bauer
    roasted turkey breast
    Elise Bauer
  6. Make the gravy while the turkey breast is roasting:

    Pour the turkey stock through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl.

    Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pot and stir in the flour. Cook the butter flour mixture over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the mixture is the color of coffee-with-cream.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Add the hot turkey stock to the butter flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Stir in enough stock to make a thin gravy, about 2-3 cups. Squeeze all the garlic from the garlic heads into the gravy.

    Simmer gently while the turkey breast cooks, adding more turkey broth or water if the gravy gets too thick.

    add turkey stock to roux
    Elise Bauer
    add roasted garlic to turkey gravy
    Elise Bauer
  7. Remove the turkey from oven, let rest:

    When the turkey breast is ready, remove it from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

  8. Finish the gravy:

    Pour the gravy into a blender and purée until smooth. Return the gravy to the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter to finish.

  9. Carve the turkey breast:

    Cut straight down from the keel bone (the keel bone separates each half of the breast) until your knife hits the breast bone. Slice the meat off and, using short strokes with the knife, free the meat from the bone.

    carve turkey breast from keel
    Elise Bauer
    carve roasted turkey breast
    Elise Bauer

    If you want, pull off the tender underneath the breast and slice this piece separately; it tends to fall off the rest of the breast when you slice it anyway. Slice the deboned breast and serve.

    remove tender from roasted turkey breast
    Elise Bauer
    slice roasted turkey breast
    Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
693 Calories
23g Fat
5g Carbs
111g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 693
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 308mg 103%
Sodium 492mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 111g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 59mg 5%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 962mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.