How to Cook Turkey Breast 3 Ways, According to Our Test Kitchen Experts

Mastering how to cook a turkey breast can seem intimidating if you're not familiar with roasting meat. But cooking turkey breast is a fantastic solution for Sunday dinner or if you're hosting a smaller Thanksgiving dinner. We're dishing about how long to cook a turkey breast per pound, plus will share how to ace all of the methods for cooking turkey breast, including slow cooker turkey breast, pressure cooker turkey breast, and oven-roasted turkey breast. Each slice will end up so succulent.

Once you master how to cook a turkey breast, you'll always be less than 30 minutes of prep time away from a showstopping, juicy, family-sized entrée. Whether you cook fast by whipping up a pressure cooker turkey breast in your Instant Pot, choose a slower set-and-forget slow cooker turkey breast, or preheat your oven to follow our method for how to bake a small turkey breast, it doesn't take long to get this smartly-sized protein ready to roast. With enough servings for a family, plus a round of leftovers (most of our turkey breast recipes serve 8 to 12), cooking turkey breast is a smart choice for Sunday dinners or an intimate Thanksgiving menu.

BBQ Spice-Rubbed Turkey Breast
Andy Lyons

How to Cook a Turkey Breast 3 Ways

Here's our complete guide to the three best options for cooking a turkey breast, including in the oven, in a slow cooker, and in a pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot.

How to Roast a Turkey Breast in the Oven

Step 1: Prep

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Remove the turkey breast from its packaging and pat dry. Place the meat on a flat, lightly greased roasting rack-lined pan ($44, Bed Bath & Beyond). For the best appearance and flavor, brush lightly with vegetable oil, cooking oil, or melted butter.

Step 2: Season

Season as desired (we love the rub on this Barbecue Spice-Rubbed Turkey Breast), then loosely cover turkey with foil.

Step 3: Cook

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the breast in a place where it's not touching a bone. Roast until juices run clear and a meat thermometer ($21, Williams Sonoma) reads 165°F.

Curious about how long to cook turkey breast in the oven? Timing varies based on the size and shape of each turkey breast. As a general rule when buying turkey, plan on 1 pound per person of bone-in, or ½ pound to ¾ pound per person of boneless. If you like leftovers, opt for 1½ pounds per person.

As you plan ahead for turkey breast cooking time per pound, use these cooking times as a rough guide for roasting:

  • 1¼- to 1½ -pound boneless turkey breast half: Roast at 325°F for 35 to 40 minutes
  • 2- to 2½-pound bone-in turkey breast half: Roast at 325°F for 60 to 70 minutes
  • 2½- to 3-pound boneless turkey breast: Roast at 325°F for 40 to 60 minutes
  • 4- to 6-pound whole turkey breast: Roast at 325°F for 1½ to 2¼ hours
  • 6- to 8-pound whole turkey breast: Roast at 325°F for 2¼ to 3¼ hours

Remove from the oven and allow the turkey breast to rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve alongside your favorite side dish recipes.

How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

For a slow cooker turkey breast recipe like our Mediterranean cuisine-inspired Greek Breast of Turkey, you can follow a similar game plan as explained above. The major differences:

  • Place the turkey breast in a slow cooker ($28, Target) instead of a roasting pan.
  • Add ¼ cup of chicken broth and consider citrus and aromatic elements instead of spices alone.
  • "Roast" the slow cooker turkey breast on low for 5½ to 6 hours (for a medium-sized whole turkey breast) or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F.

How to Make Pressure Cooker Turkey Breast

Hungry, like, 30 minutes ago? Hit fast-forward with a pressure cooker turkey breast. Including prep, cook, and pressure release time, it takes just a smidge over one hour to cook 4 pounds of turkey breast. That's it! For recipes like our classic Pressure Cooker Turkey Breast, again, a similar method for how to cook a turkey breast holds true. Just make these minor adjustments:

  • Place the turkey breast in an electric pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot ($120, Target) instead of a roasting pan.
  • Add 1 cup of chicken broth and consider citrus and aromatic elements such as onions, garlic, carrots, and celery.
  • Lock the lid and heat the pressure cooker turkey breast on high pressure for 25 minutes for two 2-pound bone-in or 20 minutes for two 1½-pound boneless turkey breasts.
  • Quickly release pressure, then use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat has reached 165°F.
  • Broil the meat 5 inches from the oven heat for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp and brown the skin.

How to Buy, Store, and Thaw Turkey Breast

As you prepare to dive into any of these methods for cooking turkey breast, food safety is of utmost importance. Keep raw turkey in its original package in the refrigerator, and plan to cook it within 2 days of purchase. For longer storage, freeze turkey up to 2 months. Before freezing, wrap turkey in foil for the freshest result. When you're ready to proceed, follow these tips to safely thaw your turkey.

Follow any of these three methods for how to cook turkey breast and you'll be all set to serve a juicy, tender entrée for dinner any night of the year.

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