Air Fried Turkey Breast with Herb Butter

This recipe for turkey breast with herb butter is an easy way to get some great flavors incorporated into your turkey, plus it sort of self-bastes as the butter under the skin melts and spreads over the meat.

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It’s amazing how easy it is to make a beautiful roast turkey breast in your air fryer. Honestly – I’m amazed every time. You’d think that it would get too brown or burn on top, being so close to the element, but it doesn’t. Instead, it turns a gorgeous brown and only needs to be flipped over a couple of times – ending with the turkey skin side up is key for crispy skin.

Whole roast turkey breast on a cutting board with herbs and cranberry garnish.

You can really use any combination of herbs that you like. I use parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme because I’m a big Simon and Garfunkel fan and love singing. (true story) If you wanted to put lemon zest and oregano in the butter instead, go for it! Or perhaps orange and tarragon… You can really put any combination together that you like. Just remember to use unsalted butter and add salt so you’re in control of the seasoning.

Once the turkey is roasting, the butter will obviously melt, but the nice thing about the air fryer is that the butter will collect along with the turkey juices in the drawer below. You can scoop that beautiful liquid up with a bulb baster and baste your turkey each time you flip it. Plus, at the end of roasting, you can put those juices into a fat separator, let the fat rise to the surface and then pour the delicious juice from below into your gravy.

Whole turkey breast, sliced on a cutting board with herbs and cranberry garnish.

The air fryer really can make your Thanksgiving meal easier if you just let it. You could use it to cook an additional turkey breast if you’re having a lot of company, or if you’re only feeding a small crowd cooking the turkey in the air fryer leaves your oven available to do all the side dishes. The air fryer is an honest-to-god life saver. (You should say “thank you”.) 

A white plate with slices of roast turkey breast covered with gravy in foreground; whole turkey breast on cutting board in background.

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Air-Fried Turkey Breast with Herb Butter

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 50 m
  • Total Time: 1 h 5 m
  • Servings:
    8

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 pounds whole turkey breast, rib bones trimmed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Gravy (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brandy or white wine
  • cups rich turkey or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • drippings from the roast turkey

Instructions

  1. Start by making sure the turkey breast will fit into your air fryer. Trim the rib bones with a pair of sharp poultry scissors if necessary to make sure the turkey will fit nicely and not sit higher than the top of the basket.
  2. Combine the butter, chopped fresh herbs, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Gently slide your fingers underneath the skin of the turkey to loosen the skin away from both sides of the turkey breast. Place a third of the herb butter under the skin, massaging it over the turkey breast. Repeat with the other side. Melt the remaining herb butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) and brush it all over the skin of the turkey breast, or flatten the butter with your hands and let it rest on top of the turkey.
  3. Pre-heat the air fryer to 350°F.
  4. Place the turkey breast skin-side up in the air fryer basket. Air-fry for 20 minutes at 350ºF. Turn the turkey breast over so that it is now skin-side down. Use a turkey baster to suck up some of the juices from the bottom drawer and baste the turkey breast with the drippings. Air-fry for another 20 minutes.
  5. While the turkey is air-frying, make the gravy on the stovetop if you choose to do so. Pre-heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk the butter and flour together, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the brandy or white wine and let it bubble and thicken. Then, whisk in the stock, continuing to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the Worcestershire sauce and then set the gravy aside.
  6. Turn the turkey breast back over so that it is once again skin-side up. Baste again with the juices from the bottom of the air fryer drawer and air-fry for another 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant read thermometer.
  7. Place the turkey breast on cutting board and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. While the turkey rests, pour the juices from the bottom of the air fryer into a measuring cup or fat separator. Let the juices sit for 10 minutes and ladle or pour off the grease that rises to the surface. Strain the drippings and either add them to the gravy or just pour the juices over the sliced turkey breast.
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