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Boneless Turkey Breasts: Cook Covered or Uncovered?

author image Jared Paventi
Jared Paventi is the communications director for a disease-related nonprofit in the Northeast. He holds a master's degree from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication and a bachelor's degree from St. Bonaventure University. He also writes a food appreciation blog: Al Dente.
Boneless Turkey Breasts: Cook Covered or Uncovered?
Opinions differ as to whether you should roast a boneless turkey breast covered or uncovered. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Turkey is synonymous with the American Thanksgiving holiday, but its versatility makes it a year-round favorite. The turkey breast packs all of the white meat that people love on Thanksgiving day, but without the mass of a whole roast or the fuss of preparing a large meal. Boneless turkey breasts cook relatively quickly in your oven, but cooks debate whether to cover the pan or leave it uncovered when roasting. There is no right or wrong answer, but there are two different preparation methods.

Covered-Pan Benefits

Covering a roasting pan provides an entirely different cooking method for your boneless-turkey breast. Ruth Cousineau, writing for "Gourmet" favors the covered-pan because it uses two different styles of oven cooking. The heated air within the oven's chamber roasts the bird from the outside, while the trapped, moist air within the pan braises the bird. Cousineau writes that "the meat cooks quickly and stays very moist."

Roast it Covered

Bowman Landes, an American turkey manufacturer, offers instructions for cooking a turkey breast in a covered pan. Place the roast on the rack of a 9-by-11-inch shallow roasting pan and coat its exterior with 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil using a pastry brush. Do not cover the pan completely with the lid. Instead, turn the lid of the pan so that it does not sit flush and vent the roasting pan. Insert it into a preheated 325-degree-Fahrenheit oven and cook the turkey for 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uncovered-Pan Benefits

Many cooking experts counsel home cooks to leave the lid off when roasting any turkey product, including boneless turkey breasts. Butterball, Emeril Lagasse and the National Turkey Federation each call for the turkey breast to remain uncovered during the roasting process. The heat source of the oven radiates throughout the chamber, cooking the meat and browning the exterior.

Roast it Uncovered

Butterball's website is one of the leading resources for turkey preparation on the Internet. Its recipe for boneless, roasted turkey breast starts with preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and setting the breast in a roasting pan with rack. A thawed, boneless turkey breast should take 1 3/4 to 2 hours to roast.

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