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This Herb Roasted Turkey Breast is an easy recipe for creating moist, flavorful turkey. A great option for a group of eight or so gathering for Thanksgiving or other occasions. We also cover include some wine pairing suggestions for your turkey meal. Disclosure: Some of the wines discussed in this article were provided as complimentary samples; those sample bottles are noted when they are first mentioned. Read on for details on the recipe and our suggested wine pairing, or click here to jump down to the recipe.
Inspiration for Garrigue Herb Roasted Turkey
Imagine yourself driving through the French countryside, windows rolled down on a warm, sun drenched day. Smells of lavender, thyme and rosemary waft in. That fresh herb aroma can be captured in the character of a wine, and that quality is called garrigue.
When I was contacted back in 2015 to see if I’d be interested in trying a potential Thanksgiving wine pairing involving the garrigue herbs and some Languedoc AOP wine, I was all in! While I do often fall back to Pinot Noir with the fairly traditional turkey we eat on Thanksgiving, I like to experiment, too. And I especially like food and wine pairings where both elements grow together in the same region. That concept worked very nicely when we originally made this Garrigue Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with a Wine from Languedoc pairing we came up with for the November 2015 Thanksgiving edition of Wine Pairing Weekend.
We came back in 2019 to update the recipe and wine pairings to give you some additional ideas for your Thanksgiving meal or other holiday gathering.
What makes this turkey breast recipe work
Our herb butter rubbed over the turkey gives it a nice golden brown color. Cooked just right, still moist with great flavor from the gravy.
We make a lighter gravy for this turkey breast, using some chicken stock along with more garrigue herbs. This accentuates the herb flavors of the dish, and also sets up some good wine pairings for the dish. Enjoy the herb roasted turkey with some of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes to round out the meal.
Tips for making Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
OK, let’s talk about the food. I decided to make roasted turkey breast, which can be a nice option if you are just cooking for your immediate family or a smaller gathering. I made an herb butter with sage, rosemary and thyme, classic garrigue herbs. I rubbed it all over the turkey before roasting, and the house smelled great for the next couple of hours.
Here are some tips for making Herb Roast Turkey Breast. For the full detailed instructions, click here to jump down to the recipe card.
- Start by making the herb butter. Take the butter out about 30 minutes prior to using it to soften. The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (garrigue herbs). But you can use dried herbs if you like; using at least one fresh herb is idea.
- The herb butter gets rubbed all over the turkey breast. In addition, separate a bit of the skin from the turkey flesh and slip a bit of the butter underneath the skin.
- I used a 325 degree setting in a convection oven. If you don’t have convection, adjust the heat to 350 degrees conventional.
- Place the turkey skin side up so the fat from the skin drips into the meat.
- Roasting times vary based on your oven and the size of the turkey. Roasting times for a 3 to 5 lb turkey breast are typically given as 90 to 120 minutes. Check at 90 minutes, temperature in middle should be 170 degrees. Our 4 pound turkey breast was ready at the 90 minute mark.
- The turkey breast should register 165 degrees when checked with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast meat.
- The first time I made the gravy, I had some liquid from reconstituting porcini mushrooms and used 1/4 cup of that along with the chicken broth. If you have something like that on hand, it adds nice depth of flavor. But it is fine to just use chicken stock if that is what you have.
- If you wind up with leftovers, two of our favorite recipes are this Turkey and Butternut Squash Stew and our Leftover Turkey Pasta with Mushrooms.
Herb Roasted Turkey with Wine Pairings
Making this Herb Roasted Turkey Breast again this year gave me a chance to test out some new wine pairings. For many years, I often went for red wine almost exclusively with the Thanksgiving meal. But more recently I’ve been bringing some whites to the table. I did a red or wine for turkey comparison this time; here are the results.
Red or white wine with turkey dinner?
The 2017 Domaine Brussett La Bastide ($21, 13.5% ABV–sample bottle provided) from the Rasteau AOC has rustic qualities that made it a nice match for this turkey recipe, especially with its herbal qualities. For more on the Rasteau AOC in the Rhone Valley, see this article we did on the subject.
Our white option for this turkey dinner was the 2018 Anne Amie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Gris ($20, 13.3% ABV). Honeysuckle on the nose, on the palate honeydew melon and lychee; underling minerality and a light touch of honey. A very good wine.
When focusing just on the match between the turkey and the wine, I give the edge the red wine from the Rhone. But if you have some sweet elements on the table like cranberry or butternut squash, a white wine with a touch of sweetness like the Pinot Gris might be your best option.
Chenin Blanc, the grape varietal used for Vouvray, is another Thanksgiving dinner friendly white wine I’ve tested out recently. And you can’t go wrong with a good Pinot Noir if you are in the mood for red wine!
Original pairing from the Languedoc
For the original making of this recipe, I opened the 2013 Domaine Terres Georges Minervois Et Cetera ($14 — I was given a sample bottle), a blend of Carrignan (40%), Grenache (40%) and Syrah (20 %). Minervois is an AOC in the Languedoc region of France. Sure enough, I detected earthiness and fresh herbs on the nose. Taste of plum fruit, lavender and stone. Those garrigue herbs really come through, and make for a great pairing with the herb roasted turkey breast. This pairing is definitely a winner, and one I’d recommend to someone looking for something a little different for Thanksgiving.Print
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Turkey breast roasted with an herb butter, including sage, rosemary, thyme and lavender, herbs associated with the French term “garrigue”. Served with a light herbed gravy.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 110 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours 5 mins
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: roasting
- Cuisine: French
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 5 tbsp butter (1 reserved), left out of fridge for 20 minutes or so to soften
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- 1 sprig thyme, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 lbs boneless turkey breast
- 2 tbsp shallot
- 1 3/4 cup chicken stock (swap in 1/4 cup reserved porcini liquid or other such rich broth if you have it)
- sliver lemon peel
- pinch thyme
- pinch lavender or substitute 2 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 sage leaves
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Make the herb butter: place 4 tablespoons of the softened butter in a small bowl. Add 1/2 of the minced garlic, the rosemary, 4 chopped sage leaves, the chopped thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine well, and set aside.
- Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry. Set the turkey out on a clean work surface, and rub the butter all over the turkey. Put more on the skin side, work some under the skin if you can.
- Place the turkey breast on a roasting rack, in a roasting pan. Place in the oven and roast. Roasting times vary based on your oven and the size of the turkey. Roasting times for a 3 to 5 lb turkey breast typically given as 90 to 120 minutes. Check at 90 minutes, temperature in middle should be 170 degrees. Ours took about 100 minutes in a convection oven to be ready. When done, remove the turkey breast from oven and let rest for 10 minutes on a large platter.
- Begin making the light gravy after the turkey has been cooking for an 30 minutes or so. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan. Add the shallot, and cook 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the chicken stock to the sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer.
- Add the lemon peel, pinch of thyme, lavender and 2 sage leaves. Simmer the stock until it is reduced by about 1/2. Keep warm.
- After you’ve put together the gravy ingredients and they are simmering together, pull out a quarter cup and use that to baste the turkey about halfway through the cooking time.
- When the turkey is cooked, strain the broth through a sieve, with a bowl underneath to catch and reserve the liquid. Pour the liquid into the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stove top, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the bits of turkey fat that dropped to the bottom of the pan during the roasting. Simmer for a few minutes, then pour the liquid into a serving bowl.
- Slice the the turkey, and plate a few pieces along with your side dishes. Serve with the light gravy and a bottle of red wine from the Languedoc!
- Take the butter out about 30 minutes prior to cooking to soften it.
- If you don’t have a convection oven, increase the temperature to 350 degrees for a conventional setting. Cooking time will be similar to convection with that adjustment.
- The turkey breast should register 165 degrees upon inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat.
Keywords: roasted turkey breast, turkey with herb butter, wine pairings for turkey
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