Juicy Herb & Butter Turkey Crown Roast

If you prefer the white breast meat of the turkey or simply don’t want to cook the entire bird — consider a turkey crown roast this year instead. My recipe for oven-roasted turkey crown roast includes an herbed butter rub and fresh orange for juicy and flavorful breast meat that is never bland.

a black pate with sliced breast meat from a crown roast of turkey

Make a turkey crown roast this Thanksgiving or Christmas.

What is a turkey crown roast? It’s the breast of the turkey (sometimes the drumlets are attached) and it’s served still on the bone making it different from turkey breast cutlets you can get.

It’s perfect if you wish to make a smaller amount of turkey for less people, serve other meats, or if you simply do not like the dark meat and want nothing but the white breast meat.

This oven roast can also easily be smoked as I show you in my dry brined and smoked whole turkey recipe.

And if you love this recipe you may also want to try my whole roasted duck recipe too.

Serve this crown roast with cheesy scalloped potatoes, smoked homemade cranberry sauce (that can also be served without smoking, my warm autumn roasted vegetable salad, and risotto on the side.

Check out the Thanksgiving section for more autumn and holiday favorites — like my old-fashioned fresh apple cake, pumpkin spice bundt cake, and lots more.

Ingredients

the ingredients for making this recipe
  • about 7.5 lbs turkey crown
  • dried basil
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh oranges
  • butter, softened
  • salt + pepper

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

a bowl with all of the ingredients

1. Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Put softened room temperature butter in a bowl and add the salt, dried basil, and thyme leaves. If the crown roast is brined — do not add any additional salt.

the ingredients and the butter creamed together

2. Mix the butter thoroughly with the herbs to make a soft spreading paste.

the raw crown roast breast with the skin pulled back

3. Carefully separate the skin from the breast and lift it up. Watch for tears, they can easily happen.

the raw crown roast breast with the skin pulled back and rubbed with the butter mixture

4. Spread with butter getting it completely underneath the skin, using about a third of the total amount.

the raw crown roast breast with the skin pulled back down over the fresh orange slices

5. Slice an orange into thin slices and place under the skin. Four pieces should be enough.

the raw crown roast breast covered in a thick layer ofthe butter herb mixture

6. Carefully fold back the turkey skin. Spread the crown all over with the remaining herbed butter.

the raw crown roast covered with foil and ready for baking

Place more slices of fresh ​​orange on top of the roast. Carefully cover the turkey with foil and place in a roasting dish.

Pour one cup of water into roasting dish and then add more orange juice into the water from the remaining oranges. Place in the oven.

the cooked crown roast in a roasting pan full of juices

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 140° degrees F about 1.5 hours) then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes at 400° Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160° and the skin has obtained a golden crispy crust.

Rest turkey loosely tented and sealed underneath foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

the cooked crown roast in a roasting pan full of juices. The skin is brown and perfectly crispy.

Hint: A meat thermometer is really crucial for perfectly done meat. Over cooked duck is dry, rubbery, and tough. I recommend the ThermoWorks ONE for accuracy.

Substitutions & Variations

along with changing up the herbs and spices (hello lovage) to suit your tastes or to use up whatever you currently have on hand, here are some more tips:

cover crown roast in bacon

Drape the entire roast in raw slices of bacon before covering with foil.

make it smoked instead

Smoke your crown roast! you can follow the directions in my recipe for smoked turkey.

Storage

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Top Tips

  • Dry-brine your turkey crown roast for at least 24 and up to 72 hours. Simply liberally sprinkle the flesh and then leave uncovered in the refrigerator. If brining for longer than 24 hours, cover your roast so that it does not dry out. Make sure you do not add any additional salt if brining.
  • Use those delicious orange-y drippings to make your favorite gravy recipe.
  • You can save the bones and scraps and make a delicious turkey soup or enough bone broth to make perfect risotto.
  • Turn any leftover meat into next-day turkey leftover pesto sliders.
slices of the breast meat on a black plate

FAQ

What is a crown roast of turkey?

A crown roast of turkey is the breast of the turkey still attached to the bones and carcass. It is a great choice for smaller gatherings and people who prefer the breast meat to the dark meat of the bird.

What is the best way to cook a turkey crown to keep it moist?

The best way is to start by brining your roast and then spreading butter and/or bacon strips on it before cooking. Covering the bird with foil and only uncovering for the last bit of cooking keeps the meat tender and moist.

How many people does a turkey crown feed?

A turkey crown comes in various sizes. A 2 kg (4.5 lbs) crown roast will feed about 4-6 people, a 3 Kg (6.5 lbs) roast will feed up to 8 people and so on. It also depends on your side dishes and whether you are serving another type of meat or main course too. And of course, you may want leftovers for sandwiches and soup so factor that in!

Do you leave string on turkey crown when cooking?

If your turkey roast came with string to tie up the breast — leave it on. However, I recommend untying and then retying in order to spread your herbed butter mixture fully underneath the skin of the turkey.

close up of a perfectly roasted turkey crown roast

Juicy Herb & Butter Turkey Crown Roast

My recipe for oven-roasted turkey crown roast includes an herbed butter rub and fresh orange for juicy and flavorful breast meat that is never bland.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: autumn, christmas, sunday dinner, thanksgiving
Servings: 6
Calories: 858kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 7.5 lbs turkey crown roast
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 oranges
  • ½ cup butter unsalted
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Put softened room temperature butter in a bowl and add the salt, dried basil, and thyme leaves. If the crown roast is brined — do not add any additional salt.
  • Mix the butter thoroughly with the herbs to make a soft spreading paste.
  • Carefully separate the skin from the breast and lift it up. Watch for tears, they can easily happen. This is easier on a room temperature turkey, the skin should also be patted dry.
  • Spread with butter getting it completely underneath the skin, using about a third of the total amount.
  • Slice an orange into thin slices and place under the skin. Four pieces should be enough.
  • Carefully fold back the turkey skin. Spread the crown all over with the remaining herbed butter.
  • Place more slices of fresh ​​orange on top of the roast. Carefully cover the turkey with foil and place in a roasting dish. I also like to first cover the roast with parchment paper and then cover with aluminum foil
  • Pour one cup of water into roasting dish and then add orange juice into the water from the remaining oranges. Place in the oven.
  • Bake until the internal temperature reaches 140° degrees F 9about 1.5 hours) then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes at 400° Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160° and the skin has obtained a golden crispy crust.
  • Rest turkey loosely tented and sealed underneath foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Dry-brine your turkey crown roast for at least 24 and up to 72 hours. Simply liberally sprinkle the flesh and then leave uncovered in the refrigerator. If brining for longer than 24 hours, cover your roast so that it does not dry out. Make sure you do not add any additional salt if brining.
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
     

Nutrition

Calories: 858kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 112g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 343mg | Sodium: 2309mg | Potassium: 103mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 638IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Food Safety

  • Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
  • Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
  • Wash hands after touching raw meat
  • Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
  • Never leave cooking food unattended
  • Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
  • Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

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