When cooking Thanksgiving for two and roasting a whole turkey is too much food, make Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey Breast For Two with caramelized onion cranberry stuffing and turkey pan gravy.
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, how traditional are you? Do you make the same recipes each year or do you branch out with new ideas?
We are very traditionalists here when it comes to any holiday dinner (although we may try something new for Christmas and Easter).
Thanksgiving I can almost guarantee what the menu will be year after year – mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, Mom’s stuffing, and Dad’s pumpkin pie.
The only change up we have is the meat.
Since there’s only four of us (with one not liking turkey and another who doesn’t eat much meat), we usually cook two Cornish Hen with Homemade Stuffing.
However, I know not everyone wants chicken. They want turkey and stuffing for two because it’s synonymous with Thanksgiving.
Problem is there is no such thing as a small turkey. The smallest I’ve seen is 10 pounds. Probably 7 pounds too many.
So how do you make a small turkey for two? By making Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey Breast For Two.
One turkey breast half is probably three times the size of a regular chicken breast. Depending on what else you’re serving, you can serve one breast per person or cut each breast in half and stretch it into 4 servings.
The best part about roasting a whole turkey (besides the crispy skin) is stuffing it. Luckily turkey breasts are thick enough to stuff.
Keeping with traditional Thanksgiving flavors, I made homemade caramelized onion cranberry stuffing.
And since you’ll have pan drippings from roasting the turkey, you can make homemade turkey gravy for serving.
Buying Bone In Turkey Breast
When I first made this recipe in 2014, I’ve never actually bought bone-in skin-on turkey breast before.
I’ve bought boneless skinless turkey breast, turkey legs, Cornish hen, boneless skinless chicken breast, all meats very similar to it but never bone-in skin-on turkey breast.
I bring this up because I had quite the adventure buying it.
First, there is no such thing as boneless skin-on turkey breast. It’s either bone in with skin or boneless and skinless.
And since you neeeeed that crispy golden turkey skin, you need to debone the turkey breast yourself.
Second, there is no such thing as tiny turkey breasts. Go big or go home.
It took me three stores to finally buy my meat. One butcher told me most breasts are bigger than 3 pounds because of the high demand.
I somehow got incredibly lucky and found 2.5 pound and 2.97 pound turkey breasts at another store.
Because of this factor, this stuffed turkey breast recipe may vary for you. You may have leftover stuffing. You may use all of the stuffing. Your cooking time may take longer if the meat is bigger.
How To Debone Turkey Breast
Deboning turkey breast is easier than you think because the bone is all on one side.
Using a boning knife or a chef’s knife (make sure it’s sharp and long enough), place the breast skin side down. Make a cut down the center of the breast all the way down to the bone.
This video from Canadian Living demonstrates how to debone a turkey breast.
Or depending on where you buy your meat, you can very nicely ask the butcher to debone it for you.
How To Make Thanksgiving Stuffing
Instead of using boxed stuffing, opt for making homemade stuffing!
I amped up classic stuffing by adding caramelized onion and dried cranberries.
The onions will take some time to caramelize, but you can cook them ahead of time so you’re not as rushed on Thanksgiving.
How To Roast Stuffed Turkey Breast For Thanksgiving
Rather than butterflying the turkey breasts then rolling them up into a roulade, I decided to cut pockets into the side. Turkey is usually thick enough to cut and fill.
To get started, preheat the oven to 325F then start preparing your turkey breast.
Make the herb butter, which you can prep the day before to save time on Thanksgiving Day. I like to butter roast my turkey breast to give it more flavor and to help the skin crisp up better.
Once you butter your turkey, make a pocket on the side of each turkey breast. Add the stuffing then secure with a toothpick or two.
If you have leftover stuffing, place it in a heatproof pan to bake alongside the turkey.
Roast two turkey breasts for 60-90 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. The time varies because it depends on how many pounds your turkey is.
This is where buying a meat thermometer (Amazon affiliate link) comes in handy. You don’t want to guess then cut into a raw turkey.
How To Make Gravy With Turkey Drippings
My Homemade Gravy Without Meat Drippings is my most popular recipe ever, mainly because you don’t need to roast meat for it.
However, when you roast stuffed turkey breasts you will have pan drippings. These drippings are delicious and you certainly don’t want to throw them away!
The turkey breasts need to rest before serving; otherwise they will lose their wonderful juices and dry out.
While the turkey is resting, take those pan drippings and make turkey gravy.
First, refrigerate the drippings until the fat solidifies. Skim off the fat then melt it in a saucepan. This is in lieu of butter.
Next, stir in flour to form a roux, which is a flour paste. Let it cook for another minute or so to get rid of the raw flour taste then slowly whisk in the drippings. If it’s not enough, you may need to add broth as well.
Bring to a boil then cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.
By the time you finish the gravy, the turkey should be ready to serve.
How do I prepare stuffed turkey breasts the day before Thanksgiving?
This recipe isn’t complicated, but like any holiday meal these Thanksgiving stuffed turkey breasts do take some time to prepare.
Prep the stuffing the day before Thanksgiving by cubing and toasting the bread. Cool then store at room temperature in an airtight container.
While the bread is toasting, caramelize the onion and cook the celery. Place the cooked filling in the refrigerator until the next day when you mix the stuffing ingredients together.
You can also make the herb butter ahead of time. Refrigerate after making then let it soften at room temperature before covering the turkey.
Another way to save time on Thanksgiving Day is by deboning the turkey breast ahead of time. Thawed turkey breast can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before Thanksgiving.
What should I make for a small Thanksgiving dinner?
Now that you chose Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey Breast for two as your main dish, what about the sides?
Most Thanksgiving side dish recipes make enough food to feed an army; if you’re cooking for two, you’ll never finish it all!
Luckily for you, this blog is all about recipes for two. I published a Thanksgiving For Two Dinner Menu guide where you can mix and match recipes to create a holiday meal you’ll love without throwing away leftovers.
Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Stuffing
- 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes (roughly 4 slices bread)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt, to taste (preferably kosher)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup chicken broth or stock
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher)
- 2 (3-pound) bone-in skin-on turkey breasts, deboned with skin left on
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
- 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt, to taste (preferably kosher)
- For the stuffing: Preheat oven to 400F. Add the bread cubes in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Cool completely.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. Add onion and a big pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to low then cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every few minutes and scraping any bits that form on the bottom.
- Add celery and cook another 5-8 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- In a large bowl, add toasted bread cubes. Add onion mixture, broth, egg, cranberries, and parsley. Stir until everything is moistened and sticking together. Set aside while you prep the turkey.
- For the turkey: Preheat oven to 325F. Line a roasting pan with foil. Spray a roasting rack with cooking spray and place it inside the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and salt until smooth. Evenly rub the butter mixture underneath and on top of the turkey skin.
- Cut a pocket into one side of each turkey breast large and deep enough to hold stuffing without cutting all the way through. Fill each breast with stuffing. If you have leftover stuffing, place it in a heatproof pan to bake alongside the turkey. Use a few toothpicks to close the pocket.
- Place both turkey breasts on the roasting rack. Bake for 60-90 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F and juices are clear. Rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- For the gravy: While the turkey is resting, make the gravy. Place any meat drippings into a measuring cup and refrigerate 15 minutes. If fat forms, skim it off the top and save. Add enough broth to equal 1 cup.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the fat from the drippings. If there isn't enough fat, add enough butter to equal 2 tablespoons of fat total.
- Stir in the flour and a big pinch of salt to form a roux (paste) and cook for 1 minute or until lightly brown.
- Slowly whisk in the drippings mixture. Bring to a boil then cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with turkey.
This recipe isn't complicated, but like any holiday meal it does take some time to prepare. Here are some ways to prep the recipe ahead of time:
- Prep the stuffing the day before by cubing and toasting the bread. Cool then store at room temperature in an airtight container.
- While the bread is toasting, caramelize the onion and cook the celery. Place the cooked filling in the refrigerator until the next day when you mix the stuffing ingredients together.
- Make the herb butter then refrigerate. Let it soften at room temperature before covering the turkey.
- Debone the turkey ahead of time. Thawed turkey breast can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before Thanksgiving.