Dry Brined Turkey Breast
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A brined turkey breast is perfect for serving 2-4 people, with plenty of leftovers! Make this recipe for tender, juicy boneless turkey roast.
Not everyone has a crowd over for the holidays and for those of you who cook for a smaller group, this brown sugar maple glazed boneless turkey roast is perfect.
This recipe is just for the turkey breast, but if you need to cook an entire bird, I have notes and a great video on roasting and carving a turkey.
Dry brined for 12 hours with spices, roasted and basted with a brown sugar, maple, Sriracha sauce, this is a tasty alternative to the traditional bird. Although eating turkey doesn’t just have to be around the holidays either. I eat it quite often year round.
Dry brined turkey breast
What is brining? Well, in general, a brine is a solution of salt and seasonings used to protect and seal the juices inside of protein before it’s cooked.
There are two types of brining solutions: liquid, also known as wet brine, and dry brine.
A liquid (wet) brine is a saltwater solution that the protein is marinated in. A great example of this is smoked salmon brine. Before making smoked salmon, the fish soaks in a wet brine solution to help seal and protect it from drying out in the smoker.
Dry brining is the same process, except there is no water involved; it’s just a dry rub mixture of salt and seasonings. Keeps it simple and less of a clean up actually. By brining meat, you can decrease the amount of total moisture loss. That means a tender, moist, boneless turkey roast.
When I roast a whole turkey I oftentimes will rub herbed turkey butter under the skin to keep the meat extra moist and to add flavor.
You can certainly do that with a brined turkey breast if you’d like to, but there are plenty of spices in the dry brine. Plus, a maple glaze is brushed over the breast as it cooks, so the meat is is definitely tender, juicy and full of flavor.
After the turkey roasts for a while a flavorful brown sugar maple glaze with smoky paprika and sriracha (completely optional) is brushed on the turkey roast.
This sticky sweet and very aromatic sauce is the perfect seasoning for the bird! Between that and the brine seasoning, you can’t ask for a more flavorful Thanksgiving turkey for two!
Cooking time and temp for boneless turkey
As a general rule, turkey breast takes about 16 minutes per pound to cook. For a 4 pound bone-in breast, it takes just over an hour.
For a boneless turkey roast, the cooking time is about 40 minutes at 350°F. Be sure to check the internal temperature to know for sure that it’s cooked through. The internal temperature should be 163°F at the thickest part of the breast.
When finished roasting, remove the turkey from the oven, set it onto a cutting board or platter where the juices won’t leak onto your counter, and cover it loosely with foil.
Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. During this time, the turkey will continue to cook another 2-3 degrees, bringing the internal temperature up to a safe 165°F.
Tips for serving turkey for two or four
So I have a couple of tips for those of you cooking for more than two people.
- Consider buying a larger turkey breast.
I usually buy a 2 pound boneless breast when I’m only serving turkey for two, but I get a 4 pound turkey roast when we have another couple over.
- Cut thinner slices.
I suggest cutting the slices a bit thinner than you would for two people. This will leave you plenty of leftovers for sandwiches and turkey pot pie.
If you’re cooking a turkey dinner for more than two, it’s also nice to add an extra side dish, or double up on the size of the dish.
What to serve with roasted turkey breast
For ideas on Thanksgiving side dishes that can be adjusted easily to serve 4 or less , be sure to check out my post on making a complete Thanksgiving for two.
Serve your boneless turkey roast alongside traditional favorites like French’s green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with pecan streusel or pearl onions with bacon. Enjoy!
Hope you try this instead of making a bigger bird. If not for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, then make it anytime. I enjoy turkey often and when sized down to a large breast like this you are set.
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Nov. 13, 2017, was last updated with new content on Oct. 19, 2021.
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Dry Brined Turkey Breast
- 2 lb turkey breast boneless
- 1 tbsp butter softened
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp butter melted
- 1 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- In a small bowl mix together the salt, pepper, sugar, paprika and garlic powder. Sprinkle turkey all over with dry brine, patting to adhere. Arrange turkey breast on top of rosemary sprig in a container and chill uncovered for 12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Shake off any excess dry brine from turkey breast and discard rosemary. Rub turkey all over with butter. Arrange turkey on top of a wire rack over a lined, rimmed baking sheet (or roasting pan for entire turkey).
- Lower oven heat to 350°F and roast turkey breast until golden brown all over, about 40 minutes. (See Note 1 below for entire turkey ingredients and instructions.)
- While turkey is roasting: In a microwave safe bowl add the brown sugar, maple syrup, soy sauce, butter, Sriracha sauce (optional) and paprika. Cook for 2 minutes on high.
- After roasting 40 minutes, start basting every 10 minutes (roasting for another 20 minutes and/or until breast temperature is 163°F in thickest part).
- When finished roasting, remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow turkey to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. During this time, the turkey will continue to cook another 2-3 degrees, bringing the internal temperature up to a safe 165°F.
- 12 lb turkey
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 4 tbsp kosher salt
- 4 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Plan on 13 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey if roasting with an empty cavity, and 15 minutes per pound if you’ve stuffed it.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and then lower the temperature to 350°F when putting the turkey into the oven.
- The turkey is done when it registers a minimum of 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh.
- When finished roasting, remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow turkey to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Hosted my first Thanksgiving since my husband went vegan. This recipe was great! I had a 3 lb boneless turkey breast—with skin, and yes that’s critical— With all of our Thanksgiving day food prep craziness, I forgot to turn down the oven to 350 until 15 or 20 min into the cooking. It still came out moist and SO flavorful. Everyone who eats meat here LOVED it. My husband even had a taste. I’m posting on my social media today and have already forwarded the recipe to my sister😘
Awesome! So glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks for sharing and for coming back to let me know Susan. 🙂
Even a turkey crown is too big for two. Would it work with duck? (if you can get boneless duck…)
A turkey breast is good for two, both is another story. Feel free to use duck, but since I have not cooked it I am not sure of the correct time Sue.
Hi Kevin, I am new to your site, so glad I found it- love it! A couple of quick questions about the recipe which I can’t wait to make! Would it work with boneless turkey tenders? Next, could the dish be made in advance ( a day or so) and warmed up? Last, can leftovers be frozen? Thank you so much, Jane
So glad you found me Jane. I would say yes on all questions. Where do you get turkey tenders, I’ve never heard of them!
Kevin, this recipe is fantastic! The sauce is delicious sweet heat and the method made a tender, juicy bird. I even had to cut the brine time drastically–so I can’t wait to try it after half a day drenched in spices…there will definitely be a next time for this recipe.
Thank you! I am glad you will make it again!
Can I do this in the crockpot?
I have not, but if you do please let me know Christy!
So do you cook this on a wire rack the entire time?
Yes you do Brittany.
Hi Kevin, think I could use this recipe but cook the turkey on the grill instead? The glaze looks awesome and I’m excited to give it a try!
Definitely, it is very flexible.
Since we have Thanksgiving for our family this year due to Covid, we are going to try a new recipe and skip our normal brine. Can you clarify-when you refer to a boneless breast, is it also skinless? The picture looks like it has skin but I never see a boneless breast with skin in the grocery store.
No, this one does have skin on and thats important for the roasting as the fat renders slowly to baste. Then you baste with that delicious brown sugar maple glaze!