Turkey Tenderloin Recipe (With Herb Butter)
This Turkey Tenderloin recipe is a juicy turkey breast slathered with herb butter then roasted in under an hour until perfection. Afterwards you make a flavorful turkey gravy with the drippings to pour over top. It’s the ideal size to make for your Thanksgiving for two.
The hardest part about cooking your Thanksgiving dinner for two is the turkey.
Sure, you can make stuffed Cornish hen, but sometimes it’s not the same.
Problem is there’s no such thing as a small whole turkey. The smallest I’ve seen is 10 pounds. Probably 9 pounds too many.
The solution to making turkey for two? Making this turkey tenderloin recipe at 1.5 pounds.
If you want to stick closer to tradition, you can make my stuffed turkey breast.
But sometimes you just want a no-fuss turkey recipe. One where you don’t have to stuff it, baste it, marinate it, or anything labor intensive.
That’s where turkey breast tenderloin comes into play.
It’s a juicy, boneless turkey breast with an herb butter rub that’s roasted in under an hour then served with turkey gravy.
No brining, no marinating, no waiting.
Although brining and marinating can bring more flavor, you also need extra time to sit. And I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at that.
Nothing like making the sauce for your meat, just to find out it needs to sit for 8 hours.
Not here. Once you slather your tenderloin with homemade herb butter, place it on a roasting pan and immediately start baking it.
In under an hour, your small Thanksgiving turkey is ready!
To complete your herb butter turkey, you’ll have about a tablespoon or so of drippings when you’re done.
It may not seem like much, but it’s flavorful enough to make turkey gravy from drippings out of it.
After all, what small turkey dinner is complete without gravy?
What is turkey tenderloin?
Turkey tenderloin is a lean, thick strip of meat cut from a whole turkey breast. It’s boneless, skinless white meat that’s the most tender part of the bird (hence the name).
Because of its smaller size, it’s an ideal cut to make any day of the year for a home-cooked Sunday dinner.
Ingredients For Turkey Tenderloin
To make this simple turkey tenderloin recipe, gather the following ingredients:
- Turkey tenderloin: Often sold in pre-sealed 1.5 pound packages, this is boneless, skinless turkey, not bone-in skin-on turkey breast (although you can certainly cut your own tenderloin).
- Butter: Use unsalted butter or your rub may be too salty.
- Garlic: Aromatic to make the rub more flavorful
- Herbs: Use a hearty herb like thyme, rosemary, or sage. You can use one variety or buy a pack that contains all three (labeled as a poultry bouquet).
- Salt and pepper: Seasonings to flavor the butter
How many servings does turkey tenderloin make?
Because this blog focuses on recipes for two, let’s talk turkey servings.
More often than not, you’ll find turkey loin sold in a pre-sealed 1.5 pound package, which contains two pieces of tenderloin.
Each loin makes about two servings, so that means 1.5 pounds turkey makes about 4 servings.
That may be ok for a normal Sunday dinner but when it comes to a big feast like Thanksgiving, you’ll likely have a lot of sides to serve with it.
At this point you can decide on whether you should only make one and freeze the other for later or make two at once.
You can always use the leftover turkey to make my chicken pot pie for two.
If you do only make one, cut the butter in half (or make all of the butter and use the rest for garlic bread).
How To Cook Turkey Tenderloin
To make your roasted turkey tenderloin recipe, first gather a roasting pan with a rack. Line it with foil then lightly grease both the rack and foil with cooking spray.
The rack allows the turkey breast to cook underneath while the juices drip down (which you’ll use later to make turkey gravy).
Don’t have one? You can make one by placing a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
Now it’s time to cook your turkey!
- Mix together the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper until smooth and spreadable. Evenly rub over both tenderloins then place on top of the roasting rack.
- Bake at 400F for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F and juices are clear. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
That’s it! While the meat is resting, use the juices to make your turkey gravy and pour over top.
Store leftover turkey in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What To Serve With Turkey Tenderloin
It’s a no brainer that turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving, so here are my favorite holiday recipes to serve with your turkey tenderloin recipe:
- Stovetop Scalloped Potatoes – Cook your potatoes while you wait for the turkey to finish.
- Au Gratin Potatoes For Two – These au gratin potatoes do require oven space, but you can cook them at the same time as the turkey.
- Sweet Potato Casserole For Two – A classic dish of mashed sweet potato with marshmallows on top.
- Green Bean Casserole Without Mushroom Soup – No canned soup here with this casserole favorite!
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce – Makes one small jar, which is about 2-4 servings. Serve any leftovers on cranberry baked Brie!
- Small Pumpkin Pie – Can’t have Thanksgiving without pie!
Turkey Tenderloin FAQ
Turkey tenderloin is part of the turkey breast. The difference is turkey breast as a whole is bone-in skin-on while tenderloin is boneless and skinless.
Turkey tenderloin is white meat, which is tender (hence the name).
Turkey often dries out when you overcook it. To keep your meat juicy and moist, use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
I highly recommend making the herb butter ahead of time then roasting the day you’re serving for best results.
- 1 + 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) turkey tenderloin (roughly 2 tenderloin pieces)
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened*
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herb such as thyme, rosemary, and/or sage
- 1 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Turkey Gravy, for serving (get recipe here)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a roasting pan with foil and place a roasting rack inside. Lightly grease both rack and foil with cooking spray.
- In a small mixing bowl, beat together the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Evenly rub over both tenderloins then transfer to the roasting rack. If your butter isn't spreading well, microwave it for 5-8 seconds to soften it (do not fully melt it).
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 160F (it'll continue to cook while resting). Carefully tent with foil to keep warm then rest for 10 minutes. At this point, the internal temperature should read 165F.
- Meanwhile, take the drippings left behind in the pan (roughly 1 tablespoon) and make my turkey gravy recipe (click here to get ingredients and directions).
- Slice turkey and serve with gravy. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- *If using salted butter, you'll need to use less salt. Brands vary so I can't give you an exact amount (hence why I recommend using unsalted).
- Only cooking one tenderloin? Cut the herb butter in half. Bake temperature and time remain the same.
- Want to serve your bird with stuffing inside? Check out Stuffed Turkey Breast and Stuffed Cornish Hen.
- Planning your holiday menu? Check out Thanksgiving Dinner For Two for recipe pairings.
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