Cooking the Perfect 2-Pound Split Turkey Breast: A Fool-Proof Guide

Are you looking for an easy and delicious Thanksgiving meal for a smaller gathering? Or perhaps you’re just craving some juicy turkey without the hassle of cooking an entire bird? Look no further than the 2-pound split turkey breast! This succulent cut of poultry is not only easy to prepare, but it’s also a fantastic way to enjoy all the flavors of a traditional turkey dinner without the leftovers that can last for days.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the art of cooking a 2-pound split turkey breast to perfection. We’ll cover everything from selecting the right turkey breast to preparing it with a flavorful herb butter and determining the optimal cooking time. So, grab your apron and let’s get started!

Understanding the Split Turkey Breast

Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s first understand what a split turkey breast is. A split turkey breast, also known as a bone-in turkey breast half, is exactly what it sounds like – a turkey breast that has been split lengthwise into two halves. Each half typically weighs between 2 to 4 pounds, with a 2-pound split turkey breast being the perfect size for a smaller meal or gathering.

One of the advantages of cooking a split turkey breast is that it cooks much faster than a whole turkey, making it an ideal choice for those short on time or cooking for a smaller crowd. Additionally, the bone-in cut helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful during the cooking process.

Selecting the Perfect Split Turkey Breast

When it comes to selecting a split turkey breast, freshness is key. Look for a turkey breast that has a pinkish-red color and feels firm to the touch. Avoid any packages with discoloration, tears, or excessive liquid, as these can be signs of spoilage or mishandling.

Many grocery stores and butcher shops offer split turkey breasts year-round, but if you’re planning to cook it for a specific holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s best to purchase it a few days in advance to ensure availability.

Preparing the Split Turkey Breast

Once you’ve selected your 2-pound split turkey breast, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2-pound split turkey breast
  • Herb butter (see recipe below)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Poultry seasoning (optional)

Herb Butter Recipe


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, chopped herbs, salt, and pepper.
  2. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Set aside until ready to use.

Cooking the 2-Pound Split Turkey Breast

Now that your split turkey breast and herb butter are prepared, it’s time to get cooking!

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C).
  2. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels and season the bone side generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat, being careful not to tear it completely off.
  4. Spread the herb butter evenly under the skin and over the top of the skin, coating the entire turkey breast.
  5. Sprinkle the poultry seasoning over the top of the turkey breast, if using.
  6. Place the seasoned turkey breast on a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.
  7. Roast the turkey breast at 425°F (218°C) for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C) in the thickest part of the breast, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. If the skin starts to get too dark during the cooking process, loosely tent the turkey breast with aluminum foil.
  10. Once the turkey breast reaches 160°F (71°C), remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Determining the Perfect Cooking Time

One of the most crucial aspects of cooking a split turkey breast is ensuring that it reaches the proper internal temperature without overcooking. While the USDA recommends cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), many experts suggest pulling it out of the oven a few degrees earlier, around 160°F (71°C).

The reason for this is that the turkey breast will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after it’s been removed from the oven. This process, known as carryover cooking, can raise the internal temperature by an additional 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit. By removing the turkey breast at 160°F (71°C), you can achieve a perfectly cooked, juicy turkey breast that reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) while resting.

However, it’s essential to note that the cooking time can vary depending on the exact weight of your split turkey breast, as well as your oven’s temperature accuracy. A good rule of thumb is to plan for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time for a 2-pound split turkey breast, but it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure accurate doneness.

Carving and Serving the Split Turkey Breast

Once your split turkey breast has rested for 15 minutes, it’s time to carve and serve this delicious main course. Here’s how to carve a split turkey breast:

  1. Place the turkey breast on a cutting board, skin-side up.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice along the breastbone, separating the meat from the bone.
  3. Continue slicing along the rib bones, removing the entire breast portion from the bone.
  4. Slice the turkey breast across the grain into desired portion sizes.

Serve the carved turkey breast hot, accompanied by your favorite Thanksgiving or holiday side dishes. Some classic pairing options include:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing or dressing
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Roasted vegetables (e.g., brussels sprouts, carrots, or green beans)
  • Dinner rolls or biscuits

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

If you have any leftover turkey breast, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, place the desired portion in a covered oven-safe dish and bake at 325°F (163°C) until heated through, about 20-30 minutes.

Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave, but be careful not to overcook the turkey, as it can become dry and tough.


Cooking a 2-pound split turkey breast is a fantastic way to enjoy the flavors of a traditional turkey dinner without the hassle of cooking an entire bird. With its easy preparation, quick cooking time, and delicious results, this succulent cut of poultry is sure to become a staple in your kitchen, whether for a holiday meal or a cozy Sunday dinner.

Remember, the key to success is selecting a fresh turkey breast, seasoning it with a flavorful herb butter, and monitoring the internal temperature closely to achieve juicy, perfectly cooked results. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your 2-pound split turkey breast and get cooking!

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