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Lemon and Herb Roast Turkey Breast



For the brine:

  • 4 qts luke-warm water
  • 1 cup coarse sea or kosher salt (see note below)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves attached
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns

For the turkey:

  • 1 7-9lb natural turkey breast, skin-on bone-in, brined overnight (see note below)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • generous pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • zest of one lemon


To brine the turkey:

  1. Dissolve the salt and sugar into the water, then add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Place the turkey in the brine and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Brine overnight (10-12 hours) in the refrigerator. Alternately, if you don’t have room in your fridge, use an ice cooler instead. Simply add ice to the brining liquid and proceed.

To make the compound butter:

  1. Mash the butter with the thyme, sage, rosemary, lemon zest, a good pinch of salt and pepper together. Set aside.

To roast the turkey:

  1. Preheat your oven to to 425 degrees. Spray the v-rack of your roasting pan with vegetable oil, and pour about 2 cups of water on the bottom of the pan. You could very well add aromatics such as onion, celery, carrots to the bottom if you’d like — I didn’t.
  2. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it well under cool water, about 30 seconds. Place turkey on a paper towel lined cutting board and continue to pat the bird as dry as you can. Remove any excess fat and/or neck skin with a sharp knife or kitchen shears, continuing to pat the bird dry as you work. With your fingers, gently separate the breast skin from the meat, and be careful not to tear the thin membrane or skin. When you have successfully created two pockets under the skin of the breast, with a spoon place half of the lemon-herb butter mixture under the skin on one side, and repeat on the other side using the remaining lemon-herb butter. Use your hands to gently and evenly rub the butter under the skin and over the entire breast. Pat the skin dry again if you need to.
  3. Rub about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into your dry hands and massage the outside of the bird. There should be a very thin layer of oil on the bird, just enough to moisten it. Sprinkle a little fresh ground black pepper onto the skin. Place the bird in the v-rack of your roasting pan skin side up, on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue roasting for about an hour longer or until the thickest part of the breast meat registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Increase the heat to 425 degrees and roast the bird for just another 10 minutes until the skin deepens and crisps a bit further. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
  4. Serve and enjoy.


*If you don’t have coarse sea salt or kosher salt, you can use regular table salt but reduce the amount to 1/2 cup. If you use a full cup your turkey will be way too salty.

*If you’d like to use this method for a larger, whole bird. Use more water and increase the salt and sugar accordingly. For example, if you’re using 8 quarts of water for a 12-15lb bird, use 1/2 cup more of salt and sugar. You shouldn’t have to add more herbs, but you could add more peppercorns.

  • Prep Time: 10 hours 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 mins
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