Last updated on November 4th, 2018 at 06:50 pm
This Turkey Breast is wet-brined overnight, for maximum flavor and moisture, basted in butter then roasted to perfection. This Brined Roast Turkey Breast is what Thanksgiving dreams are made of!
To brine or not to brine, that is the question. I’ll be the first to tell you that I lived pretty much my whole life without ever brining my turkeys. Once I did, I realized that brining is the way to go, especially if you’re brining with something flavorful.
WHAT IS BRINING?
A brine is a solution usually made with salt and water that is used to pickle or preserve foods. Brining meats usually can help to increase the amount of liquid inside the meat cells, thus giving us juicier turkeys.
The key to brining is to use great flavors, don’t just do salt and water, even though that is still going to make your turkey juicier, you want to add more delicious flavors such as citrus flavor, garlic, sugar, cinnamon and herbs. Make the brine count and don’t be shy to use flavors that you love.
The only problem with brining is that you want to make sure you have a pot that is big enough to fit your bird, however you can also buy brining bags that are usually large enough to fit whole turkeys or hams.
HOW TO MAKE A BRINED ROAST TURKEY BREAST
- Buy the right size turkey breast. I used a whole turkey breast (two breasts, still joined at the breast bone) that weight about 5 pounds, which is enough to feed 4 to 6 people. Usually you can find turkey breast year round, but most of the times the ones I find are half a breast. I found this one at Costco. Half a breast that’s around 2.5 to 3 pound will usually feed two to 4 people.
- Thaw your turkey breast before brining it. The night before brining, take it out of the freezer and let it sit on your counter in a bowl overnight. By morning is should be thawed.
- Prepare the brine solution (see recipe and watch video). I actually combined all the ingredients in a large pot (I used my Instant Pot) and brought it to a boil to make sure the the salt and sugar dissolved. You’ll have to let the brine cool completely or add enough ice to it to cool before actually adding the turkey to it. Store it in the fridge overnight, or at least for 12 hours.
- Add onions to the pan, and place the turkey breast on the onions so that it’s elevated and doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. This will ensure even cooking. I used the same method for my Slow Roast Leg of Lamb.
- Season the turkey to your preference, but since the turkey breast is brined, it’s already packed with lots of flavors, so I kept it simple and just seasoned it generously with salt and pepper. Add a little bit of chicken broth to the pan if you’re looking to make a gravy. Brush the turkey with lots of melted butter.
- Roast the turkey breast covered at 350 F degrees for 1 1/2 hours, basting with additional butter every half hour. Continue roasting uncovered for another hour until the breast is golden brown and the internal temperature reads between 165 – 170 degrees.
- Always let the bird cool for a good 15 minutes before slicing into it. During this time, prepare your gravy.
CRAVING MORE TURKEY? TRY THESE RECIPES:
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- Maple Mustard Roasted Turkey Thighs
- Roast Turkey Breast with Saucy Cranberry Sauce
- How to Roast a Turkey
If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #jocooks on Instagram so we can see it. I always love to see what you guys come up with!
Brined Roast Turkey Breast
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 8 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup sage fresh
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 lemons
- 1 orange
- 4 cups ice
- 2 medium onions quartered
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 5 lb turkey breast bone in, thawed
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- 8 tbsp butter melted
- 1 cup chicken broth low sodium or no sodium added
Brining the Turkey Breast
- Add the water to a large pot and bring it to a boil. For the orange, peel it using a potato peeler or a knife, then cut it in half. Cut the lemon in half and juice it. Add the remaining brine ingredients together (excluding the ice) and bring to a boil to dissolve all the salt and sugar. Add the lemon halves and orange halves after they've been juiced to the brine as well, they will provide more flavor. Remove from heat and cool completely. To speed this up add about 4 cups of ice to the brine. I used my instant pot for this but any big pot that will fit the brine and the breast will work.
- Once the brine is cooled, place the turkey breast in the brine making sure it's fully submerged in it. You may have to weigh it down with another pot of water. What I did is wrapped the pot with plastic wrap, then placed a plate over it, and then a pot of water over the plate. This worked for me because the brine and turkey came up to the top of the pot. Another option is to use a brick or rock wrapped in plastic wrap. Store it in the fridge overnight or at least for 12 hours, so make sure you have enough room in your fridge.
Roasting the Turkey Breast
- Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Remove the turkey breast from the brine solution and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Place the quartered onions and smashed garlic in a large metal roasting pan then place the turkey breast on top of the onions. Season it generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Brush the turkey with melted butter, keep remaining butter for basting later. Add the chicken broth to the pan.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place the roasting pan in the oven. Cook covered for 1 1/2 hours, basting with the melted butter (remelt again if necessary) every half hour. After 1 1/2 hours, remove the aluminum foil and roast for another 1 hour or until golden brown. The breast is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers at 170 degrees F.
- Transfer the turkey breast to a platter or cutting board and let it rest for a full 15 minutes before slicing into it.
- Skim some of the fat from the pan drippings if necessary.
- Place the pan on the stove over medium-high heat. In a little bowl whisk together the cornstarch with the water, then add it to the pan. Whisk everything together. If the gravy is too thin and you prefer a thicker consistency, feel free to add more cornstarch until you reach the desired consistency. Cook for a few minutes, until the gravy thickens a bit. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.
- Strain all the liquid into a bowl, then press all the liquid out of the onion and garlic using a spatula, for additional flavor.
- If your breast is frozen, make sure to take it out the night before and place it on your kitchen counter in a large bowl. It will thaw out overnight.
- Turkey breast cooking guidelines:
- 4 to 6 pounds - 2 1/2 to 3 hours
- 6 to 8 pounds - 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours
- The best way to check to see if the turkey is cooked is to use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the breast registers at 170 F degrees, in the thickest part of the breast. Sometimes a turkey/turkey breast will have a pop up timer (you can see in pic/video) which can be helpful as a preliminary step in judging the correct temperature.
- Use a shallow metal roasting pan so that the oven air can flow completely around the turkey breast, which is also why I place the turkey on onions, to elevate it a bit.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.