How to Cook a Pre-Cooked Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Cooking a pre-cooked, roasted turkey breast might seem counterintuitive, but it's a great way to serve an impressive dish without much time or labor in the kitchen — especially if you're not serving enough people to justify cooking a whole turkey.

Cooking a pre-cooked, roasted turkey breast might seem counterintuitive.
Credit: ~UserGI15633745/iStock/GettyImages

Thaw Your Pre-Cooked Turkey Breast

If your turkey breast is frozen, thaw it before you start the cooking process. If you thaw your turkey breast in the refrigerator, the USDA recommends allowing 24 hours of thawing time per every 4 to 5 pounds of meat.

If you didn't get your turkey out of the freezer in time, you can also thaw it in cold water. In that case, the USDA recommends allowing about 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of meat.

If you're in a real bind for time, you can also thaw your turkey breast in the microwave. But in that case, the USDA warns that for the sake of food safety, you must cook your turkey immediately after — don't freeze or refrigerate it again — and you'll have to consult your microwave owner's manual for details about what power level and time settings to use.

Finally, the USDA notes that you can cook a frozen turkey breast. But it'll take at least 50 percent longer to be done, so it's well worth taking the time to thaw it out first.

Prep the Turkey Breast

Many pre-cooked turkey breasts come with a roasting bag. Your prep work can be as simple as slipping the turkey into the roasting bag, sealing it and placing it on the rack of a shallow roasting pan, then adding a bit of water to the bottom of the pan to help keep the turkey moist.

If you're not using a roasting bag and want a little extra browning, create a loose foil tent over your turkey breast.

Most pre-cooked turkey recipes are just that simple — after all, the meat has already been cooked for you, and it may also be pre-seasoned. But there are several clever ways you can add flavor to your precooked turkey breast.

The first, of course, is to rub the turkey breast with the seasonings of your choice. The classic combination of rosemary, sage and thyme is a great place to start. The second option is adding herbs and spices to the water in the bottom of the pan. And a third option is to baste the breast every 20 minutes as it cooks, using a sweet, savory or sweet/tangy glaze.

Oven Temperature and Doneness

The USDA advises that you should set your oven no lower than 325 degrees F for cooking — or recooking — turkey. You don't have to preheat the oven.

Approximate cooking times provided by the USDA for an unstuffed, thawed turkey breast are one and a half to three and a quarter hours for a 4- to 8-pound breast; two and three quarters to three hours for an 8- to 12-pound breast; and three to three and three quarters hours in the unlikely event that you have a massive 12- to 14-pound breast. All of these times assume that the turkey breast is unstuffed. If you want to make stuffing, the USDA notes that you should cook it in a separate casserole dish.

However, these times are all approximate. Instead of relying on your oven timer, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey breast to verify that it's done. Per USDA guidelines, the center of the breast should reach at least 165 degrees.

Read more: How Many Calories Are in a Turkey Sandwich?

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