Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast for Small Gatherings

This dish is great for when you want savory turkey without having to cook for hours—or deal with a carcass, if you aren’t making stock. It’s also good as a Thanksgiving dish for a small family or group. The bay leaves in the baste, and under the turkey breast, really do permeate the meat. Add a little vegetable broth to the baste to make the meat even juicier. Can be served with, or without, gravy. Goes well with red wine. We had this dish for our first Thanksgiving meal shortly after arriving in Vermont.


1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, scrubbed clean
12 fresh sage leaves (5 dried. Approximately 1 tsp. if dried)
Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup)
3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
6 fresh bay leaves (4 dried works too)
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (or one larger breast)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.
  • Place the chopped onion into a mini food processor. Using a zester or vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon, avoiding the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Finely chop the onion and lemon zest. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until it forms a coarse paste.
  • Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside. You can also slowly melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl with the bay leaves.
  • Set the turkey breast(s) on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from one end, creating a pocket. Being careful not to pull the skin completely off. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the breasts to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath each one. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a spoon, baste the breasts with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After 20 minutes, baste the breasts with the remaining bay butter, and roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Published by Rick Scully

Rick is a craft brewer, shepherd, gardener, photographer, writer, tech nerd, web developer, and all around good guy.