Ever wish you ate turkey more than once a year at Thanksgiving? Air Fryer Turkey Breast is the recipe for you! It’s hours faster than classic Roast Turkey, yields a more manageable quantity, and is excellent for weeknight meals too!
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Why You’ll Love Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- Cooks Fast. A full turkey takes 3 hours or more. Air fryer turkey breast cooks in just 1 hour.
- Less Labor Intensive. You don’t need to mess with a wet turkey brine or dry brine unless you are in the mood. This turkey breast can be ready to cook right away.
- Sometimes You Don’t Want an Entire Turkey. Since it yields a more manageable amount of meat, air fried turkey breast (and Crockpot Turkey Breast) is perfect for smaller gatherings and for weeknight dinners.
- White Meat Lovers Rejoice. Since the breast is entirely white meat, no one needs to fight over it. It’s great if you need a little extra white meat at Thanksgiving too.
I’m not tired of it yet!
This air fryer turkey breast has been such a hit and is so easy to prep, I’ve started using it as a refreshing change of pace from our usual Air Fryer Chicken Breast and even Baked Bone-in Chicken Breast.
Of course, it’s also perfect for Thanksgiving if you’re cooking Thanksgiving for two or three.
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Breast
This recipe works for both boneless turkey breast and bone-in turkey breast.
I tested the recipe both ways, and both yielded juicy, flavorful turkey, even without brining.
If you’re using a bone-in turkey breast:
- If possible, air fry bone-in turkey with the ribs removed. It’s easier to fit the breast in your air fryer. Because you can lay it flatter, the meat cooks more evenly and turns out juicier.
- If you decide to use bone-in turkey breast with the ribs on, I suggest brining the turkey first to help the meat stay moist. See Dry Brine Turkey and Wet Brine for recipes.
If you’re using a boneless turkey breast:
- Boneless turkey breast (like the Butterball turkey breasts you can usually find frozen year-round) will come with a string netting around the meat; from there, it’s wrapped in plastic and usually has a plastic outer netting.
- Remove the outer netting and wrapper, but DO NOT remove the oven-safe netting that is tied around the meat.
- The netting keeps the breast from falling apart and helps it cook more evenly.
- Cook boneless turkey breast with the oven-safe netting on, then trim it away after cooking.
- Note that boneless turkey breast with the netting will take longer to cook than bone-in turkey breast because of how the meat is wrapped.
Below, I’ve suggested an easy and classic herb rub for the turkey made with thyme, sage, and rosemary.
- Turkey Breast. No dry turkey breasts here! This recipe yields a succulent, flavorful turkey breast that will please everyone at your table. Turkey breast is good for you too. It’s packed with protein, iron, and vitamins.
- Olive Oil. Adding olive oil to the outside of the turkey breast helps add flavor and crisp the skin.
- Garlic. For delicious garlicky flavor that pairs well with the herbs.
- Herbs. A mix of rosemary, sage, and thyme perfectly complements the turkey and adds earthiness.
- Dijon Mustard. Tangy, savory, and incredibly delicious.
- Salt + Pepper. Classic, must-have spices for the best overall flavor.
Prepping Turkey Breast for Air Frying
One of the best things about air fried foods is that you need very little oil to make them crispy (just ask these Air Fryer Chicken Wings!).
That said, you can’t just throw turkey breast into the air fryer and expect it to be perfect (this recipe is easy, but you do need to be a little bit involved).
To make sure your turkey breast has crispy skin and a juicy, flavorful inside:
- Pat the turkey very dry before air frying. This is key to helping the spices stick and the skin to crisp.
- Season liberally. This is not the time to be skimpy. You are roasting 3+ pounds of meat, so you need more than a pinch of salt.
- Use some oil. You don’t need a lot (just 3 tablespoons compared to the full stick of butter in many roast turkey recipes), but you want the breast to have a complete coating so that it crisps and doesn’t dry out.
How Long to Cook Turkey Breast in the Air Fryer
How long you need to cook air fryer turkey breast will vary based on your model, whether you are using bone-in or boneless turkey breast, and the size of your breast.
- A 3-pound boneless turkey breast (like the Butterball turkey breast), cooks in the air fryer in 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- A 4- to 6-pound bone-in turkey breast cooks in the air fryer in 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Checking for Doneness
Whether you are using bone-in turkey breast or boneless, DO NOT OVERCOOK THE TURKEY!
- Use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness.
- Remove the turkey breast from the air fryer when it registers 155 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part without touching bone.
- Let the meat rest 10 minutes. The carryover cooking will bring the meat up to a safe temperature. It will be succulent and juicy, not dry.
- Per the FDA, 165 degrees F is the safe temperature to which to cook turkey breast, but if you wait until the turkey reads 165 degrees F before you take it out of the air fryer, the carryover cooking will make it taste dry.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Turkey Breast
Now that you have your beautiful bird, you need some sides!
- Traditional Casseroles. Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole, Crockpot Green Bean Casserole, Pineapple Casserole, or some of these other options.
- Gravy. This Mushroom Gravy doesn’t require any drippings. Make it while your turkey is in the air fryer.
- Potatoes. From Crockpot Mashed Potatoes (or Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes) to Scalloped Potatoes, there’s something everyone will love.
- Stuffing. My Chestnut Stuffing and Cornbread Stuffing are delicious with turkey.
- Your Favorite Holiday Sides. Check out all of my Thanksgiving Side Dishes for inspiration.
Ways to Use Air Fried Turkey Breast
This turkey is juicy enough to enjoy on its own, but that’s not the only option.
Shred it just like you would if you were making shredded chicken and try it for any of these recipes:
- Sandwich. Turkey Salad and Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey are two winning options.
- Casserole. Turkey Pot Pie and Turkey Tetrazzini are two of my all-time favorite leftover turkey recipes.
- Pasta. Swap turkey for the chicken in this Chicken Alfredo Bake to create a crowd-pleasing meal. Or, try it in Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Brown Butter.
- Soup. Use shredded leftover turkey in this Turkey Soup.
- Breakfast. Pair leftover turkey with Leftover Stuffing Cakes for a hearty and tasty breakfast.
- For more ideas, check out this tasty collection of Leftover Turkey Recipes.
- To Store. Refrigerate turkey breast in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Wrap turkey in an aluminum foil pouch and rewarm gently in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F, drizzling some broth over the top before sealing the foil pouch and placing it in the oven.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, whisk the oil, herbs, spices, mustard, and garlic together. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Air Fryer. The one I own and love!
- Instant Read Thermomter. The BEST way to make sure your turkey is cooked thorugh.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board won’t slip out from under you while you’ve carving the turkey breast.
This air fryer turkey breast tastes so juicy, even those who typically prefer dark meat will enjoy it.
We know the light meat lovers will be delighted.
And thanks to the easy prep and clean up, the cook (you!) may just be the happiest of all.
Frequently Asked Questions
While I haven’t tried to make air fryer turkey breast rotisserie-style, you could try it if your air fryer has a rotisserie spit option. I recommend checking it a few minutes early to be safe, as I haven’t tried this method myself.
If you’re unable to find fresh herbs at your grocery store, you could experiment with swapping dried ones. Since dried herbs are more potent than fresh, you’ll need to reduce the amount. A general rule of thumb for swapping dried herbs is to use one-third of the amount of fresh herbs.
Plan on about 3/4 pound of bone-in turkey breast per person (you will likely have leftovers). This means that a 4- to 6- pound bone-in turkey breast will yield about 6 servings. For a boneless turkey breast, plan on about 1/2 pound per person.
Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- 1 (4-to 6-pound) bone-in, skin on turkey breast with ribs removed* or 1 (3-pound) boneless roast**
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Mushroom Gravy optional for serving
- Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. With paper towels, pat the turkey very dry.
- When ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F for at least 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, garlic, salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, black pepper, and mustard until evenly blended.
- Rub all over the turkey.
- Place the turkey in the air fryer basket, skin-side down (see notes if using a turkey with the ribs still attached). Cook for 20 minutes, then slide out the basket and carefully flip the turkey over.
- Continue cooking for 30 to 50 minutes more, until an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the meat without touching bone registers 155 degrees F (poultry is considered cooked per the FDA at 165 degrees F, but its temperature will rise as it rests. DO NOT OVERCOOK or it will be dry). Boneless turkey breast in the netting will take longer than bone-in turkey breast without netting. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest at least 15 minutes.
- To carve, cut each side of the breast away from the bone by running a large, sharp knife along and down each side of the breast bone using long, even strokes. Continue down the breast, following along the whole bone.
- Lift the meat away in one large piece, then place it flat on the cutting board and cut crosswise into slices.
- Repeat on the other side of the breast. Pull the remaining meat away from the bone and slice. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- *If using bone-in turkey breast, be sure your air fryer is at least 5 quarts (my 5.5-quart air fryer can fit a turkey that is up to 5-pounds).
- *I prefer to use a breast with the ribs removed, because it more easily fits in the air fryer AND I find it turns out more moist, because it can lay flat with the breast bone touching the bottom of the air fryer and cook more quickly and evenly. That said, if you can only find a turkey breast with the ribs still attached and don’t want to remove them yourself, you can still make this recipe. To cook, lay the breast on its side (this is likely the only way it will fit in your basket) and cook for 25 minutes. Flip over to the other side and continue cooking until the breast reaches 155 degrees F at the thickest part. I also recommend brining a breast with the ribs attached to help keep it moist during cooking (see Dry Brine and Wet Brine for recipes).
- **If using a boneless breast, such as a 3-pound Butterball breast, remove the outermost plastic netting and wrapper from the roast. Leave the inner string netting on (this holds the roast together as it cooks). It will take longer to cook than a bone-in breast because of how snugly it is held together.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate turkey breast in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Wrap turkey in an aluminum foil pouch and rewarm gently in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F, drizzling some broth over the top before sealing the foil pouch and placing it in the oven.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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