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Secret to making a moist roast turkey breast?

I am roasting a 7 lb turkey breast for the office holiday pot-luck dinner tomorrow. My husband has always made the turkeys over the years, but my attitude is "not rocket sciencel I am sure I can do this one." What's the secret to making it moist? No brining, nothing fancy please.

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  1. Well, it isn't rocket science but it is science. Brining is the best plan but short of that the trick is not to over cook it. If it were me I'd take it out of the oven at 155 degrees and tent it for half an hour. The temp will rise another 5 - 10 degrees. The juices (and there should be some) will be clear, not pink.

    It's the fat content that makes meat juicy. Turkey breast has none to speak of and therefore is subject to drying out. Hence the brining - a method wereby flavored water is drawn into the meat and trapped there.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JockY

      this is exactly what i would do

      1. re: JockY

        As per JockY, I would strongly recommend that you brine it. I'm not sure what could possibly be simpler. Put it in some cold salted water in the fridge for a couple of hours, rinse and cook. I assume you've already bought it, because otherwise I would recommend trying to find an Empire kosher breast (not sure if they actually sell it that way), as they are already brined.

        1. re: bnemes3343

          Could anyone provide some basic proportions for brine for a turkey breast?

          1. re: waver

            The basics are 12-24 hours in the fridge.

            One Gallon water, One Cup Kosher Salt and Half Cup-One Cup Sugar. You must make sure the ingredients are fully dissolved.

            Variations depend if you are doing Savory as opposed to Sweet. Sweet is generally preferred by most. you can substitute any or a combination of any of the following:

            Honey
            Molasses
            Brown Sugar

            All three of the above also aid in the browning process and give a deeper brown color for presentation.

            There are many more different recipes if you Google for ideas.

            1. re: fourunder

              With respect, I disagree on the fridge time. 12+ hours is good for a whole bird but for the breast alone 4-6 hours would be enough.

              Also, the skin gets waterlogged in the brine and that inhibits browning - even with the sugar. If ou have the time it's best to brine any fowl the day before and let it air dry in the fridge overnight. That's not a deal breaker though. It's still worth the effort even on short notice.

      2. I've never made one that big, but this is my method for a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast.

        Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

        Mix one stick of unsalted, room temperature butter with about 2 tsp of Herbs de Provence (or your own preferred herb mixture). Rub the butter mixture as evenly as possible underneath the skin of the turkey breast. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.

        Heat up a cast iron skillet on the stove. When it's quite hot, place the turkey breast skin-side down in the skillet and let it get good and brown. Once it's brown on the bottom, turn the turkey breast over and place the skillet into the oven.

        Roast for about an hour, basting every twenty minutes or so with the pan juices. It's done when the internal temperature reads 160 degrees F.

        Take it out of the oven and let it sit for 15- minutes before serving.

        1. Good advice so far.

          I'd absolutely recommend brining a turkey breast though.

          1. I have dried out a turkey breast before too. I read recently that you should drape a few slices of bacon over the breast. I will be trying that the next time. Should be fine flavor and, hopefully, moist turkey.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gail

              Skin is basically an impermeable membrane so that anything (butter, bacon, oil, etc) applied to the outside of the turkey on the skin only served to make the turkey brown up. It doesn't penetrate the meat.

              Same with basting. Basting doesn't do anything to make the turkey moist, it just helps brown and crisp the skin.

            2. I just made a turkey breast yesterday. Probably the 2nd or 3rd turkey in my entire 39 years. I liberally coated the skin with butter. Then sprinkled on some turkey herbs, salt and pepper. Plopped it in a preheated 325 degree oven. I really didn't care what happened to it. It had been in the fridge defrosting for over a week and I thought it must be rancid. My DH said to just cook it. So I did. It turned out to be the juiciest turkey I ever had!! Could be a fluke, who knows. I am pretty good a roasting chicken so I just told myself it is a big chicken. I did stick a half lemon inside the carcass. Now I don't know what to do with all the breast meat!! I will be searching this board though....

              1 Reply
              1. re: chocchipcookie

                Turkey salad or turkey chili would be excellent with the breast meat... I'm sure it's too late this time but I just spotted your post. YUM. Cobb salad with turkey, turkey club sandwiches, hot turkey sandwiches!

              2. I took the advice of several of you and modified things a bit: I was cooking a bone in/skin on breast. I mixed a stick of softened, unsalted butter with herbs on hand (fresh sage and thyme) and put it under the skin. I spritzed some olive oil, salt and pepper on the skin, roasted in a covered, vented roasting pan at 325 degrees, ~20 minutes per pound and basted every hour. The turkey was perfectly moist. Yesterday I did the same with a 13 lb whole turkey (dried herbs this time) and again, a perfectly moist and delicious turkey. I cooked it uncovered for the last 1.5 hours. Easy to carve because the meat was so moist. So, for anyone tired of dried out turkeys or intimidated by cooking a turkey, I say, not rocket science, one of the easier things I have ever cooked.

                1. If you have one of those cooking syringes, you can melt butter and inject into the breast. I think this works well. Try to inject in few different places and pull the needle thru as you inject to distribute. You can infuse the butter with herbs and garlic, but strain out the bits so you don't clog the needle. Put the strained out bits on top of the skin, or just under it.