Air fryer turkey breast is juicy and flavorful with extra crispy skin. Use a whole, bone-in breast, or opt for a boneless turkey breast to feed a smaller crowd and save room in the oven. The fresh herbs, butter, and lemon slices make this the most flavorful turkey recipe.
There are always three main goals when it comes to cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner: juicy meat, crispy skin, and bold flavor. This air fryer turkey breast recipe checks all three boxes. Don't be intimidated by making a turkey! Keep reading for all the tips to make the best turkey breast, whether it's a bone-in or a boneless breast.
Reasons to Love Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- Air fryer turkey breast serves a smaller crowd. It also allows for a bit more turkey if a whole turkey doesn't make quite enough for your guests. Make a turkey breast in addition to our cheesecloth turkey so you have extra to send guests home with leftovers.
- Frees up oven space for all the delicious thanksgiving side dishes.
- The finished turkey is tender and juicy, with crispy skin.
- The cooking time is much shorter than an entire turkey. It takes approximately 10 minutes per pound of turkey breast in the air fryer. A 4-pound turkey will take about 40 minutes in the air fryer, which is a fraction of the time it takes to make a whole bird.
Here are the key ingredients for air fry turkey breast. Jump down to the recipe card below for the exact measurements.
- Turkey breast: this recipe calls for a bone-in turkey breast. It's not always easy to find turkey outside of Thanksgiving time, but it shouldn't be a problem to find it in the fall near the whole turkey. We recommend a 3-5 pound turkey breast for this recipe. Any larger and it may be too tall for the air fryer basket. It's a bit easier to find a boneless turkey breast year-round, which is a great option. Here in Ohio, our turkey farmers are proud to work 365 days a year (!!) to ensure we can put a high-quality, nutritious turkey on the table for loved ones to enjoy. Meet the Ohio turkey farmers who work hard to provide a turkey for families like yours.
- Lemon: the aroma the citrus gives the turkey while it's air frying is delicious, and it also adds a lot of flavor to the turkey drippings, which makes a great gluten-free gravy.
- Butter: quality unsalted butter is best. You can also use vegan butter as a dairy-free option.
- Garlic: no such thing as too much garlic when it comes to a turkey breast. You can use garlic powder if you have that on hand.
- Fresh herbs: classic poultry seasoning like sage, rosemary, and thyme add so much flavor to this recipe. It's just like the butter mixture we use in our whole cheesecloth turkey recipe.
- Salt and pepper: these are a must to enhance the flavor of the bird.
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Breast
Here are the steps to make easy air fryer turkey breast. These are the steps to make an air fryer bone-in turkey breast, so jump down to the recipe card for notes on a boneless turkey breast and watch the video of how this is made.
- Make the herb butter: Let the turkey sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Right before cooking, combine the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well.
- Prep the turkey: pat the turkey breast dry with a paper towel. Carefully loosen the skin from each piece of the breast meat so you can slip your hand between the skin and the breast meat. Spoon half of the butter mixture evenly into both turkey breasts, then press to spread it out evenly under the skin.
- Prep and air fry: Preheat the air fryer for 5-10 minutes then open the basket. Spray the basket and carefully place a layer of lemon slices on the bottom. Sit the turkey breast skin side down on top of the lemon. Air fry at 360°F for 20 minutes
- Flip: carefully flip the turkey breast over and spread the remaining half of the butter mixture on top of the breast, using a spatula.
- Finish air frying: close the basket and continue air frying for another 20-25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the breast. It takes 10 minutes to air fry for every pound, so adjust cook time based on the size of your bird (30 mins for 3 pounds or 50 minutes for 5 pounds). The National Turkey Federation recommends turkey be consumed at 165°F. Pause the air fryer and quickly open the basket to check the turkey 15 minutes before it's done and cover it with aluminum foil if it's getting too crispy.
- Rest: carefully remove the turkey breast from the air fryer and place it on a platter or cutting board. Tent it with foil and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Prefer to Watch Instead of Read?
How to Carve a Turkey Breast
I recommend pulling the entire breast off the bone and slicing it from there. Here are the simple steps for a clean carve.
- Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes to help the juices stay in the turkey and to allow it to cool slightly so it's easier to handle.
- Face the turkey breast cavity toward you and find where both breasts meet at the breast bone.
- Use a sharp knife and cut alongside the breast bone of one half of the turkey, keeping your knife as close to the bone as possible as you run it down the length of the turkey.
- Cut underneath the breast and gently pull the meat away from the bone. Repeat with the other turkey breast then slice the turkey on the bias (for looks) with the skin still on.
Frequently Asked Questions
You'll need at least a 5-quart or larger air fryer for a 4-5 pound bird. We used a NuWave 7.5-pound air fryer, but this 5-quart air fryer is a good option for a smaller turkey breast or boneless turkey breast (affiliate links).
No! Washing uncooked turkey could spread bacteria to other surfaces in the kitchen.
It takes about 1 hour to air fry a 3-pound boneless turkey breast. A boneless turkey breast will likely take a bit longer in the air fryer because it's wrapped tightly in netting.
A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes per pound of turkey. So if your turkey breast is 3 pounds, it will take approximately 30 minutes. If it's 4 1/2 pounds, it will take 45 minutes, and so on.
Foil is safe to put in the air fryer and in fact, is a great way to prevent the turkey from browning too much. Carefully cover the bird with foil and continue cooking all the way through.
Keeping a turkey breast moist is the key to a delicious turkey. To start, you can brine the turkey in a saline solution to help it retain more moisture. Next, create a delicious butter mixture to cover the bird and baste as needed. Finally, do not overcook the turkey or you'll be left with a dry, tough bird. Use an instant-read thermometer to remove it from the oven when it reaches 165°F.
As mentioned above, removing the turkey from the air fryer at the right time is critical to avoid overcooking it. The National Turkey Federation recommends a turkey be cooked to 165°F. Any more than that and the turkey could dry out and become tough.
A boneless turkey will most likely have a net around it holding it together. Keep the net on while it's cooking to hold it in place and follow the same directions to cover the bird in butter (you won't be able to put it under the skin). Cook the turkey breast for one hour, flipping every 15 minutes so the sides of the turkey breast brown and cooks evenly.
- Check the height of your turkey breast before buying. The meat should be below the top of the basket.
- Get the right size turkey. Plan for just over 1.5 pounds of turkey per person to allow for the holiday meal and to send guests home with leftovers. Bonus tip: buy freezer bags to send turkey home with everyone.
- Cook it upside down first to keep the meat juicy and helps prevent overcooking the skin.
- Start with a dry bird. Be sure to pat it completely dry and let it rest, covered, at room temperature. Putting a very cold bird into any heat will result in a less evenly cooked turkey.
- Use a meat thermometer to get the cooking time exact. Every turkey and air fryer is different, so be sure to check the turkey breast to know when it's done.
- Before and after handling turkey in the kitchen, be sure to thoroughly wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! Here are the simple steps to store and reheat turkey breast.
Fridge and freezer: Store leftover turkey breast in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months. To do this, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then place it in a freezer bag or a shallow airtight container.
Reheat: Allow frozen turkey to thaw overnight in the fridge (if frozen), then place turkey breast in a baking dish with a bit of chicken broth. Cover it tightly with foil and warm at 325°F until warmed all the way through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. You can also use leftover turkey in our favorite leftover turkey sandwiches.
What to Serve with Turkey Breast
- Potatoes: try cheesy scalloped potatoes or dairy-free mashed potatoes on the side. If you're craving sweet potatoes, try our Hasselback sweet potatoes or healthy sweet potato casserole.
- Gravy: a juicy turkey breast isn't complete without make-ahead gluten-free gravy.
- Cranberry sauce: this healthy cranberry sauce is naturally sweetened and great to make ahead of time.
- Stuffing: the other side dish that is mandatory for turkey breast is stuffing! We love this sourdough stuffing and gluten-free cornbread stuffing.
This recipe is sponsored by The Ohio Poultry Association. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to brands like them that believe in me and our recipes so that we can continue to share free ones with you.
To learn more about Ohio turkey farmers and get cooking tips and nutrition information, go to OhioPoultry.org and follow the Ohio Poultry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Air fryer spaghetti squash
- Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash (oven and air fryer options)
- Air fryer butternut squash
- Crispy smashed air fryer potatoes
Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- 1 3-5 lb bone in skin on turkey breast *see notes for boneless
- 1 lemon sliced into wheels
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons EACH: fresh chopped sage, rosemary, and thyme
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- Air Fryer (5-8 Quart)
- Let the turkey sit at room temp for 30 mins. 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 375°F for 5 minutes.
- While it’s preheating, combine the butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Pat the turkey breast dry with a paper towel. Carefully loosen the skin from each piece of the breast meat and spoon 1/2 of the butter mixture evenly into both then spread it out evenly under the skin. Save the remaining butter for the top of the turkey.
- Spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray then place the lemon slices in an even layer at the bottom of the basket. Add the turkey breast, skin-side-down, on top of the lemon slices and air fry at 360°F for 20 minutes.
- Carefully flip the turkey breast over and spread the remaining half of the butter mixture on top using a spatula. place it back in the air fryer and continue to cook for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temp of the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F. Pause and check the turkey every 10 minutes to avoid burning. Flip the turkey breast to its side or cover with foil to avoid brown too much.
- Carefully remove the turkey breast from the air fryer and place it on a cutting board or platter. Tent it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Leave a Reply