Roasted Turkey Breast with Thyme Citrus Butter

Roasted Turkey Breast with Thyme Citrus Butter, is a fantastic Thanksgiving recipe for beginners! You'll love this recipe because pan-roasting a boneless turkey breast is much easier (and quicker!) than roasting a whole bird. It's also much easier to carve too.

The slow roasting at 325F keeps the turkey moist and tender, and the citrus thyme butter adds so much flavor too! The pan gravy is made at the bottom of the roasting pan so that when your turkey is done, your pan gravy is done!

Vertical image of sliced turkey on a platter
Turkey Breast can be easier to prepare than a whole bird

Suggested Side Dishes with This Recipe:

Buying Boneless Turkey Breast

  • For this recipe, you'll need three, 3-pound, boneless turkey breasts with the skin intact.
  • Not all grocery stores carrying the boneless turkey breast with the skin. But it's definitely worth seeking out because it creates the easiest, more delicious Thanksgiving dinner!
  • I typically get mine at Whole Foods or Gelson's. But you can also pre-order them from your butcher.
  • Just make sure they are roughly the same weight and size so they cook at the same rate (if you have larger breasts you can do two instead of three)

three boneless turkery breasts on a green cutting board

How Much Turkey Per Person?

  • I like to factor in at least 1 pound of turkey per person, or 1 ½ pounds per person if you would like to have leftovers.
  • Depending on your butcher, it might be that the pounds work out across 2 breasts instead of three. That's fine two so long as the breasts are the same size.
  • This will allow them to cook at the same rate and be done at the same time. 

Watch My Video Demo of This Recipe

Adding the Citrus Thyme Butter

Loosen the pocket under the skin of the turkey breast with your fingers. Then spoon in the citrus butter making sure you are covering most of the breast with the butter, and being careful not to tear the skin. 

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Spooning citrus Butter under the skin

Pan Roasting Turkey Tips

  • Measure out the ingredients for the gravy first and place them in a heavy bottom roasting pan.
  • I also add 2 bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary into the gravy to steep while the turkey roasts. This adds wonderful flavor to the gravy as it simmers under the turkey.
  • Use a roasting rack to elevate the turkey breasts above the gravy. The will allow the turkey to remain crisp on all sides while it roasts. 

Turkey Breasts in a Roasting Pan

At What temperature is Turkey Done

  • Turkey is perfectly done once the breast meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F and 180F for dark meat.
  • To achieve a perfect 165F temperature, pull the turkey out once it gets to 162F, then cover it loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving it.
  • Allowing the turkey to rest before carving it, will keep the juices intact and prevent it from drying out.
  • During the time the turkey is resting, the internal temperature will increase to 165F. The perfect temperature for roast turkey breast.
  • If you take the turkey out once it has already achieved 165F then as it rests, it will come up to 168-170F and will be too tried out. 
Roasted Turkey Breast with crispy skin on a brown cutting board
Perfectly crispy turkey breast skin achieved with the help of an elevated roasting rack

The Benefits of a Meat Thermometer

  • There is no better way to assure what temperature your turkey's internal temperature is than with a meat thermometer. 
  • Preferably a digital meat thermometer. That way the temperature reading will be very precise and you'll be able to easily tell once it's reached 162-163F. 
  • Just be sure to place the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, near the top, for the most accurate reading.

Turkey Breasts roasting in a pan in the oven with a meat thermometer

Preparing the Gravy

  • Once the turkey is done you can remove it to rest on a cutting board, covered loosely with foil. Then strain the gravy into a 4-cup pyrex pitcher with a large fine-mesh sieve
  • Pouring the gravy into the pitcher will make it easier to transfer into a saucepan to reheat and thicken it.
  • The sieve will strain the gravy and catch the bay leaf and rosemary sprigs as well as any other bits and participles you don't want to float around in your gravy. 

Straining a pan gravy into a Pyrex Pitcher

Thickening the Gravy with Cornstarch

  • I find the best thickener for sauces and gravy is cornstarch. You'll get the quickest results this way.
  • Create the cornstarch slurry with very cold water. The water must be cold, and the gravy must be bubbling and very hot, in order for the cornstarch to activate.
  • Once the gravy is boiling, slowly pour in the slurry, whisking all the while, until the desired thickness is achieved. 
  • For a silky finish, you can swirl in a pat of butter.
  • Check for seasoning and add salt and freshly cracked pepper if needed. 

Pouring Pan Gravy into a Sauce Pot

Serving The Gravy

  • Serve the gravy alongside the turkey or you can also pour a little gravy over the turkey to keep it moist.
  • I find vintage flea markets and thrift stores are great places to find interesting gravy boats with character! 

Covered Gravy Dish being brought to the table

Garnishing Your Turkey Platter

  • Once your turkey breast is sliced and fanned out on a platter, you can garnish it with fresh herbs and fruit. I like to use an assortment of:
  • Fresh bay laurel leaves
  • sliced pomegranates
  • small mandarin oranges
  • small crab apples or baby pears

Turkey Garnishes on platter with sliced turkey

More Thanksgiving Recipes


Pan Roasted Turkey sliced on a platter with herb and fruit garnishes

Roasted Turkey Breast with Thyme Citrus Butter

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

A delicious pan-roasted turkey breast perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Slow roasting with the pan gravy creates a wonderfully, flavorful sliced turkey dinner!


  • (3) 3 lb (1353 g) Boneless Turkey Breasts, skin on
  • 4 tablespoon (60g) butter, melted
  • 2 Navel Oranges (2 teaspoon zest and sliced into wheels)
  • 4 tablespoon (60 ml) fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste

For pan gravy:

  • 3 cups (700ml) of chicken broth
  • 1 cup (240ml) dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoon (20g) cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoon (45ml) very cold water


    1. Preheat oven to 325F.
    2. In a large roasting pan, prepare the gravy.  Add the broth, wine, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk to combine.  Add bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Set pan aside.
    3. In a small bowl combine melted butter, 2 teaspoon orange zest, minced thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and allow to cool slightly.
    4. Loosen the skin under the turkey breast with a spoon or your fingers, keeping the “pocket
      intact”.  Spoon 2 tablespoon of the butter mixture under the skin of each breast. Brush the skin with the extra butter and place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
    5. Slice navel oranges into ¼ inch wheels and place them under the bottom of each breast on the roasting rack.  This will allow the meat to be infused with citrus as it roasts.
    6. Roast turkey for 1 hour and 40 minutes, basting with a spoon or silicone brush until
      the skin is golden brown and the internal temperature of the meat registers at 163F via a digital Meat thermometer.  Remove it from the oven to rest and as it rests it will come up to 165F, the perfect temperature for a moist turkey.
    7. Remove breasts from pan with turkey forks to a carving board and pour the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a pitcher.
    8. Reheat the gravy until it is very hot and boiling. Make a cornstarch slurry by combining the water and cornstarch and stir with a fork until lump-free and smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry, slowing a little bit at a time until gravy reaches the desired thickness. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Then transfer to a gravy boat.
    9. Slice breasts on the diagonal, place on a platter, garnish with fresh thyme and small
      mandarin oranges if you wish, and serve with the pan gravy.


Be sure to buy the individual boneless breasts that are roughly the same size. This will assure they cook at the same rate.

Remove any netting that comes with the turkery so you can get under the skin of the breast. If the turkey needs to be secured after you can tie it together with butcher's twine.

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  1. Hi love your recipes. Where do you place the orange wheels?
    I imagine you add the cornstarch/ water mixture at the end when making the gravey?

    1. Yes exactly the cornstarch mixture will thicken the gravy, add it once the gravy is boiling in order to activate. The orange slices are added under the Turkey Breasts, to infuse more flavor into them as they roast 🙂 Hope you enjoy! And so glad you enjoy the recipes!