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.

Turkey Tenderloin recipe with mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing

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!

Serve it with cranberry stuffing on the side as well as mashed potatoes for two.

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?

Turkey tenderloin on cutting board

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.

Turkey tenderloin rubbed with herb butter

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

Sliced turkey breast with homemade turkey gravy on top

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).

Turkey Tenderloin with herb butter

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Small Thanksgiving dinner with turkey tenderloin, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy

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:

Sliced turkey tenderloin with gravy on top

Turkey Tenderloin FAQ

Is turkey tenderloin the same as turkey breast?

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.

Is turkey tenderloin white or dark meat?

Turkey tenderloin is white meat, which is tender (hence the name).

How do I prevent turkey tenderloin from drying out?

Turkey often dries out when you overcook it. To keep your meat juicy and moist, use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.

Can you make turkey tenderloin ahead of time?

I highly recommend making the herb butter ahead of time then roasting the day you’re serving for best results.

Sliced turkey breast with homemade turkey gravy on top

Turkey Tenderloin

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

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.


  • 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)


    1. 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.
    2. In a small mixing bowl, beat together the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper until smooth.
    3. 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).
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
    6. 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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