This Roast Turkey Breast with Braised Red Cabbage offers a complete one-pan meal requiring minimal fuss and clean-up. It is an absolute winner for the holiday table or for a cozy family meal!
I am so in love with this dish I hardly know where to begin. It is one of those rare dishes that become an instant hit right out of the gate, or oven in this case – ha. For what appears to be such an extravagant feast, you would never guess how quickly it comes together and what little effort it requires.
- Why You Will Love This Roast Turkey Breast With Braised Red Cabbage
- Ingredients You Will Need
- How Long Does It take To Cook A Turkey Breast?
- Make the Roast Turkey Breast With Braised Red Cabbage
- Avoid Dry Turkey Breast
- More Tips For The Best Turkey Breast
- How To Peel Back The Turkey Skin
- Make Ahead
- To Serve
The classic combo of red cabbage, vinegar, onions, and juicy apples gets a head-start braise in the oven. Turkey breasts smeared with an herbaceous butter mixture are then placed on top of the cabbage to roast until cooked through. The result: crispy-skinned turkey breast with incredibly moist and tender meat, and tart-sweet, meltingly-tender cabbage like you’ve never had before. You simply have to try it.
Why You Will Love This Roast Turkey Breast With Braised Red Cabbage
To be sure, the turkey breast and the cabbage could exist happily without each other, but together, they will not fail to impress.
Wholesome, generous, and vibrant this braised red cabbage couldn’t be easier to prepare. Thick slabs of cabbage are tossed with apple cider, apple slices, onions, spices, and balsamic vinegar then it’s over to the oven to do the rest of the work. With the long-cook braise, the cabbage becomes meltingly-tender and gains a unique flavour and texture. Once topped with the turkey, the uncovered cabbage gets a chance to brown and caramelize a bit, and becomes deeply flavoured with all the juices dripping onto it. The tangy-sweet cabbage is a welcome contrast to the richness of the turkey meat, and, with its beautiful jewel-like hue, adds a welcome bit of colour to the table.
Recently I told you about the magic of roasting a spatchcocked turkey. So epic, I will never cook a whole turkey any other way. For a smaller Thanksgiving or holiday gathering, or even for a cozy family meal, a roasted turkey breast is just as epic, and insanely easy to prepare. Smeared with a garlicky herb butter mixture, the turkey breast becomes succulent and juicy with a crackly, golden exterior making a flawless and impressive main course. Simple but so, so good.
From here, you can simply serve the dish with a crisp white wine and maybe a little crusty bread to round things out, or add it to a festive holiday table along other sides.
More reasons to love this recipe:
- Quick cook time: Roasted turkey breasts are as festive, and delicious, as whole bird. And I find them just as satisfying with their crispy skin and tender juicy meat.
- Perfect for a scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner: As written, the recipe serves 5-6 with some leftovers. But you can easily scale this recipe to feed less, or more, as needed. To feed two or one, simply use only half a head of cabbage and one turkey breast. To feed more than four, seek out larger turkey breasts, or add one more turkey breast which should fit if you use a large casserole. You could also roast the turkey breast separately on a sheet pan, if your casserole isn’t very big.
- Satisfying one-pan dinner: This roast turkey breast and braised red cabbage dish can be the main event for a holiday meal, or make a fantastic one-pan dinner for a special weekend meal.
- Economical: Cabbage is a very inexpensive vegetable that can feed a crowd. Turkey breast will, of course, cost you a lot less than a whole turkey.
- Low-carb – This roast turkey breast with red cabbage is a low-carb, nutritious, and filling meal.
Ingredients You Will Need
This outstanding festive dish also boasts a surprisingly short and simple ingredient list. Best of all, the ingredients are common enough that you can likely grab them all in a well-stocked supermarket.
FOR THE BRAISED CABBAGE
- Red Cabbage – Red cabbage is really best for this recipe. But fell free to use green cabbage, if you prefer.
- Apple cider – The fruity, robust, and earthy taste of apple cider is excellent for this dish. In a pinch, you can replace with apple juice, just make sure it is unsweetened.
- Balsamic vinegar – Here the balsamic vinegar is more suggestive than overpowering but responsible for most of the delicious sweet-tangy flavours of this dish. Feel free to use apple cider vinegar, if you wish.
- Red onions – I find red onions are a little more robust and meatier than other varieties which work well for a dish with long braise. However, any onion, shallots, or even leeks, would work here.
- Apples – The apples are not here for texture as you will notice that they completely dissolve, leaving a sweetness that is balanced by the tartness of the vinegar. I had green granny smith apples on hand but you can use any apple for this dish such as Golden Delicious or Honey Crisp.
- Spices – Adding just a pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon is optional, but I love the festive vibe it gives this cabbage dish.
FOR THE HERB BUTTER TURKEY BREAST
- Turkey breast – I like to use bone-in, skin-on turkey breast for this recipe. If you prefer dark meat, you can go ahead and use turkey thighs but keep in mind they are not as meaty so you may have to adjust the amount of people it will serve. You can also make this with a whole turkey breast and add a little more cooking time.
- Butter – Here, the butter is essential so don’t be skimpy. It imparts great flavour and acts as a natural baster to the turkey meat making it very tender and juicy.
- Garlic – Don’t be tempted to leave it out or to use garlic powder. Fresh cloves heighten the savoury flavours of the butter mixture giving the turkey meat a more succulent and floral quality.
- Herbs – My favourite herb mix for the butter mixture echoes Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. But feel free to use any of your favourite herbs here, it all works.
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper – You can season to taste but keep in mind all poultry benefits from being well-seasoned.
How Long Does It take To Cook A Turkey Breast?
This will of course depend on the size of your turkey breast. Mine were on the smaller side, some can be ginormous. Because of this, I cannot stress enough that you need to use a meat thermometer to determine the doneness. I have a super cheap instant-read thermometer that never fails. A bone-in turkey breast that weighs roughly 2 pounds, will take about 45 – 50 minutes to cook in a 350ºF oven. The final internal temperature should be 160ºF – 165ºF. Therefore, it should be taken out of the oven when it reaches 155ºF – 160ºF as it will continue to cook once out of the oven.
Make the Roast Turkey Breast With Braised Red Cabbage
This dish starts with braising the cabbage in the oven for about 1 hour. While this can be done the day you plan to serve it, you can also do this up to two days ahead to save time. This is especially convenient when preparing a holiday menu.
Here is the step-by step:
- Prepare and roast the cabbage: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Chop the cabbage into large slab pieces. Add to a large baking dish. Stir in the apple slices, onion, and spices. Pour in the apple cider and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly (I like to use my hands). Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice during cooking.
- Prepare the turkey: As soon as you place the cabbage in the oven, take the turkey breast out of the fridge, remove any packaging, and place on a plate to come to room temperature. When the cabbage has been cooking for about 50 minutes, pat the turkey breast dry using paper towels. You don’t want any moisture on the turkey breast or the butter mixture will not adhere properly. Use your fingers to carefully peel the skin back off the meat (more on that below). Stuff 2/3 of the butter-herb mixture under the turkey skin, leaving some to rub underneath the turkey breast, and on top of the skin. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper on both sides.
- Roast the turkey: Take the cabbage out of the oven and remove the foil. Give the cabbage a really good stir. Place the turkey breast on top of the cabbage, skin side up, and transfer the pan back to the oven. Roast until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 160ºF, about 45-50 minutes.
- Rest: Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board and let rest for at least 15 -20 minutes before slicing. Serve with braised cabbage on the side.
Avoid Dry Turkey Breast
The amount of butter smeared on the turkey breast, and using an instant read thermometer, practically guarantee that the meat will not be dry. BUT! If you don’t allow your roast turkey breast to rest once you take it out of the oven, and you carve into it right away, you will 100% watch all the gorgeous juices spill out onto the cutting board. Don’t do it. The turkey breast needs to rest at least 15 minutes, 20 is better, for the absolute best results.
More Tips For The Best Turkey Breast
- Always allow the turkey breast to come to room temperature before you place it in the oven. This is important for all meat as cold meat will not cook evenly.
- Be sure to pat dry the turkey before adding the butter-herb mixture. If you don’t dry the skin, the butter won’t adhere.
- The cooking time will vary based on the size of turkey breast. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure proper doneness. I like the internal temperature of cooked poultry to reach 165ºF. We recommend taking the turkey out of the oven when it is around 160ºF as the temperature will continue to rise as it rests.
- Use your broiler for 2-3 minutes at the end if the turkey breasts have not browned enough on top, watching closely to prevent burning.
How To Peel Back The Turkey Skin
Place the turkey breast skin side up. Find the side of the skin that is least attached to the meat. Slide your fingers between the skin and the meat, loosening the skin and peeling it back but leaving it attached to one side. It is important to do this carefully so you don’t tear the skin, otherwise, the butter will escape everywhere as soon as it melts.
Once you have spread the butter mixture under the skin, fold the skin over back in place.
My favourite variation of this dish is to replace the turkey breasts with a whole spatchcocked chicken! The overall cooking time will almost be the same. The chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160ºF – 165ºF. A small (spatchcocked) chicken will take about about 50 – 60 minutes total.
You can use green cabbage, if you prefer.
I don’t recommend making the turkey breasts ahead of time as they will dry out somewhat when reheated. But you can save a lot of time by braising the cabbage a day or two ahead. Then simply place the cabbage back in a casserole dish to finish cooking along with the turkey breast. Genius!
Roast turkey breast with red cabbage is a fantastic meal all on its own. If serving a holiday meal, it is perfect alongside these simple and quick green beans, and/or or this scrumptious sweet potato casserole. Simple fluffy mashed potatoes would, of course, also be lovely.
If you make this Roast Turkey Breast with Red Cabbage recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below. We love and appreciate all your feedback!
Roast Turkey Breast with Braised Red Cabbage
For The Red Cabbage
- 1 large red cabbage about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds cored, quartered, and sliced into 1-inch thick slabs
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 2 apples, cored and sliced I used Granny Smith - can use Courtland, or any other
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
For the Turkey Breast
- 2 2 pounds each turkey breast halves, bone-in, skin on or 1 large turkey breast (see notes)
- 5 tablespoons room temperature soft unsalted butter (salted is fine)
- 2 garlic cloves grated, or finely minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon choppedd fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon choppedd fresh parsley optional
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- sprigs of fresh herbs for garnish optional
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage, remove the core, quarter, then roughly cut into large slabs. Place in a large roasting pan or deep casserole dish.
- Add the sliced onions, sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix the balsamic vinegar and apple cider in a measuring cup then pour all over the cabbage mixture. Use a spatula, or your hands, to toss everything together until well coated and combined. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, stirring everything around once or twice while it cooks.
- As soon as the cabbage goes in the oven, take the turkey breasts out of the fridge, remove any packaging and place on a large plate or tray. Set aside to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour. This is very important so that the butter can spread easily on the turkey breast, and for the meat to cook evenly.
- Meanwhile, place the softened butter, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- When the cabbage has been cooking for about 50 minutes, pat the turkey breasts dry using paper towels. You don't want any moisture on the turkey breast or the butter mixture will not adhere properly.
- Use your fingers to carefully peel the skin back off the meat. Stuff 2/3 of the butter-herb mixture under the turkey skin, leaving some to rub underneath the turkey breast, and on top of the skin. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper on both sides. I use about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Take the cabbage out of the oven, remove the foil and give the cabbage a really good stir. Leave the oven temperature at 350ºF. Place the turkey breasts on top of the cabbage, skin side up, then transfer the pan back to the oven. Roast until the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 160ºF, about 55 - 60 minutes total, depending on the size of your turkey breast (see notes). The temperature will continue to rise as it rests.
- Transfer the turkey breasts to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 15 - 20 minutes before carving. Carve the turkey breasts and garnish with fresh herbs, if deisred. Serve with braised red cabbage on the side.
- Use your broiler for 2-3 minutes at the end if the turkey breasts have not browned enough on top, watching closely to prevent burning.
- If your turkey portions are larger, double the butter-herb mixture.
Join the Conversation