Juicy, crispy-skinned turkey has never been easier to make! Coated in herbed butter and air-fried until deep golden-brown, this Air Fryer Turkey Breast is perfect for the holidays and beyond.
A Super Easy Holiday Main Course
Sometimes, it’s fun and festive to bring home a whole turkey, make sure it’s defrosted, brine it, roast it, and carve it. What a tradition! And it always looks impressive to heft a big old roasted turkey to the dinner table.
But other times, it’s less fun, and a bit more… work. You know? Especially if you are feeding a smaller crowd and don’t need a giant turkey. Sometimes, a turkey breast is just what you need!
That’s why I love this easy recipe for turkey breast in the air fryer! You get that wonderful turkey tradition with a fraction of the time and effort. The turkey comes out juicy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, perfect for slicing and arranging on your holiday platter. All it needs is a savory gravy, which is easy to make while the turkey is resting. Plus, with all that extra time on your hands, you can focus on other things. Like dessert!
If you only need to make a small to medium amount of turkey, and you’d like to do it quickly, easily, and deliciously, then this recipe is for you!
More Ways To Cook Turkey
Looking for more easy ways to cook a turkey or a turkey breast? Here are some other great options:
- Crockpot: I also love this recipe for a Crockpot Turkey Breast! It’s always juicy and tender from cooking low and slow all day!
- Oven: If you have a regular large turkey and need a great recipe, I have the best recipe for how to cook a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey! It walks you through all the steps, I promise it’s not too hard! You could also use this recipe with a large turkey breast!
- Instant Pot: That’s right, I also have a quick and painless recipe for an Instant Pot Turkey Breast! However you want to cook it, I’ve got your back!
What You’ll Need
I love to use fresh herbs for this herbed butter, but it works equally well with dried. If you go with fresh, make sure to strip the leaves of thyme and rosemary away from the tough stems and just mince the leaves. You can also use other herbs of choice, like parsley, oregano, or basil. (Note: Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the recipe card with specific amounts.)
For the Turkey:
- Butter: Soften the butter so you can rub it all over the turkey breast.
- Herbs: Mince up a sprig of rosemary, one of thyme, and some sage—or use your favorite fresh or dried herbs.
- Lemon Zest: Many turkey recipes call for whole lemons to be added to the dish (yum!). Putting whole lemons in the air fryer isn’t quite the same, so I like to add some lemon zest instead.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is my favorite, but garlic powder works too!
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Turkey Breast: You’ll need one 3 – 4 pound boneless turkey breast, completely thawed.
For the Gravy:
- Butter and Flour: For thickening the gravy and giving it that classic creamy finish.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Such a quick and easy way to add vibrant flavor to the gravy! Just a little bit will do it.
- Broth: You can use chicken or turkey broth, or even vegetable broth. Feel free to mix in any of the cooked turkey juices for extra richness.
- Better than Bouillon: This is my secret ingredient! I love using the chicken flavored Better than Bouillon to give sauces and gravies a little extra boost.
Should I use a bone-in or boneless turkey breast?
Honestly, you can use either one—whichever works for you. A boneless breast, which is what I use, will cook up faster and be easier to carve. A bone-in breast will take a bit longer to cook and be harder to carve, but on the plus side, bone-in poultry is considered to have more flavor and moisture. Whichever you choose, go for a size and shape that will actually fit in your air-fryer! 3 – 4 pounds is usually about right.
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Breast and Gravy
Before you handle the turkey, it’s a good idea to make the herbed butter and set out a platter or meat-only cutting board. That way you don’t have to switch from handling raw meat to handling dishes, ingredients from the fridge, etc. (For full amounts and instructions, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.)
- Make the Herbed Butter. Combine the softened butter, minced herbs, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix the ingredients well with a fork.
- Rub the Turkey Breast with the Herbed Butter. Before you butter the turkey, pat it dry with paper towels. This helps the butter to stick instead of sliding off the turkey! Generously coat the turkey breast with the herbed butter.
- Air Fry the First Side. Line the air-fryer basket with foil. Place the turkey breast inside the foil-lined basket, and then place the basket in the air fryer. Set it for 350°F and cook for 20 minutes.
- Air Fry the Second Side. Carefully open the air fryer and flip the turkey over. Close and air fry for an additional 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness (the internal temperature of the turkey should read 165°F).
- Rest the Turkey. Remove the cooked turkey breast from the air fryer, set it on a platter, and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Make the Gravy. While the turkey is resting, melt the butter for the gravy in a saucepan, and whisk in the flour. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly, so that it doesn’t burn and there aren’t any lumps. Then add the broth to the saucepan, whisking to completely dissolve the flour and butter mixture into the broth. Finally, whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and Better than Bouillon. Continue to whisk over medium heat until the gravy thickens, which should take about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Enjoy! Serve your gravy and turkey breast warm.
How to carve a turkey breast
If you’re serving a boneless turkey breast, then all you have to do is use a sharp knife to cut it into slices. If you’re working with a bone-in breast, then you’ll need to cut each breast half away from the bone.
To do this, make a deep cut along either side of the breastbone. Then cut along the bottom of the breast meat, over the ribs on either side. The breast meat should now be easy to pull away from the bones in two large pieces. You can cut any smaller bits away from the bones afterward.
Lay the breast pieces skin-side up on a cutting board, and cut into slices.
Tips for Success
Now you know how to make air-fryer roasted turkey that’s perfect for any occasion, from a simple weeknight dinner to a holiday feast! But I still do have a couple of important tips to share. Read on for my best insights into making a perfect, juicy turkey breast in the air fryer.
- Thaw Completely! Make sure your turkey breast is completely thawed before cooking it. If it’s a little frozen inside, then it may not cook through properly, and you’ll end up with a) underdone turkey, or b) turkey that’s dry on the outside because you had to overcook it to get the center done. Not good!
- Dairy-Free Option: This recipe is already gluten-free and low-carb, but did you know you can also make it dairy-free? Just substitute your favorite vegan butter for the regular butter in this recipe.
- Handle the Foil with Care: The layer of foil in the air fryer is super important, because it holds all of the juices in and keeps them from running into the fryer and scorching. So be especially careful when you’re flipping the turkey breast or removing it from the air fryer!
To serve your juicy “roast” turkey slices, why not whip up a couple of easy side dishes? Like the turkey, these are simple to make and wonderful to serve anytime.
- Mashed Potatoes: Perfect for drizzling with that homemade gravy! I like them with plenty of butter and garlic, hence these indulgent Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Or if you like sweet potatoes, you have to try my mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole!
- Green Bean Casserole: The one casserole that we have to have every year is Green Bean Casserole and I have the best recipe or it! I know, I know, everyone claims theirs is the best, but just read the comments and check out those reviews!
- Corn Casserole: Move over, corn on the cob. Things just got real. If you like corn even just a little bit, you’re going to love this classic Corn Casserole (AKA corn pudding, Jiffy corn casserole, and heaven on a spoon) made with corn, cheddar, sour cream, butter, and sweet Jiffy corn bread mix.
- Candied Carrots: A sweet and simple family favorite, Candied Carrots are made with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- Cranberry Orange Relish: Last but not least, we love a little something sweet on our plate with some homemade Cranberry Orange Relish. If you don’t love cranberries, fried apples are also a great idea!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store leftover turkey and gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the turkey (along with any gravy) for up to three months.
Air Fryer Turkey Breast
For the Turkey
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- 1 sprig rosemary, minced
- 1 sprig thyme, minced
- 2 sage leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 – 4 lb boneless turkey breast, thawed
For the Gravy:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups turkey or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon, chicken flavored
- Combine the butter, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Mix well.
- Pat the thawed turkey breast dry with a paper towel. Coat the turkey breast with the herbed butter.
- Line the air-fryer basket with foil. Place the turkey breast inside the foil-lined basket.
- Place the basket in the air fryer, and set for 350°F and cook for 20 minutes.
- Flip the turkey over, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness (the internal temperature of the turkey should read 165°F).
- Remove the turkey breast from the air fryer, and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- While the turkey is resting, make the optional gravy. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and whisk in the flour. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the broth to the saucepan, whisking continuously to completely dissolve the flour and butter mixture into the broth. Then whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and chicken bouillon. Continue to whisk over medium heat until the gravy thickens, about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Serve the thickened gravy with the turkey.
More Turkey Recipes
- Cheesy Turkey Sliders
- Turkey Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
- Baked Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches
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