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Easy Air Fryer Turkey Breast for a small Thanksgiving dinner

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Air fryer turkey breast results in tender and juicy turkey with crispy skin. This is and ideal low prep recipe when you want to cook turkey fast! Perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner, a boneless turkey breast is a great option that will serve 6 people and still leave some leftovers!

boneless turkey breast in front of air fryer

When it comes to holiday cooking I am always looking for ways to save time. This air fryer turkey recipe is ready in about an hour, which is a huge time savings!

I still remember family Thanksgivings where my mom had to up early to get the turkey started. Not me, I want to sleep in on holidays! So if you are planning a small gathering, as many of us are this year, a simple turkey breast cooked in the air fryer is a fantastic option.

And remember, turkey doesn’t have to just be for Thanksgiving! Turkey is a tasty meat that is low in fat, healthy and goes well in many recipes. This air fryer turkey breast recipe is a quick way to cook turkey breast any time of the year.

turkey breast sliced on a platter

Why You Will Love Air Fryer Turkey Breast

  • The skin is amazingly crispy. If skin is one of your favorite parts of the turkey you will be pleased with this recipe.
  • The turkey meat is juicy and tender. Because the turkey cooks so quickly it doesn’t have time to dry out.
  • This is a simple recipe. Even if you have never cooked turkey before you can make this easy recipe.
  • You can get the best turkey taste without filling up your refrigerator with an entire turkey and spending all day cooking it.
  • You don’t have to try to find the giblets inside a still partially frozen turkey, which is always my least favorite Thanksgiving tradition.
  • On Thanksgiving using the air fryer frees up the oven for more important dishes like stuffing, pie and macaroni and cheese. At least in my family these are the most important dishes!
  • With this quick and easy way to make turkey you can enjoy leftover turkey more often. You don’t have to wait for the holidays to make Instant Pot turkey soup or leftover turkey pizza.
slice turkey breast

Should I use Bone in or Boneless Turkey Breast

Either bone in or boneless turkey breast works well in this recipe. The cooking times will vary slightly. For these pictures I used a boneless turkey breast.

Boneless turkey breasts are usually covered in netting, which helps hold them together so they cook evenly. Because the netting keeps everything tightly together it take a little longer to cook a boneless turkey breast.

The big advantage of a boneless turkey breast is that it is easier to carve, since all you have to do is slice it. But a bone in breast will also give you excellent results.

The most important thing is to make sure the at that the turkey breast you pick fits into your air fryer basket. I have a 5.8 quart Cosori air fryer and I had no problem fitting a 4 pound turkey breast.

boneless turkey breast with netting

Seasoning

This is a very simple recipe with only 3 ingredients – turkey, seasoning and oil. I used herbes de Provence seasoning on this air fryer turkey breast.

I like herbs de Provence because it smells so good! It includes lots of the spices usually used for poultry, like thyme, rosemary and marjoram in the mix, along with lavender which makes is very fragrant.

But any kind of poultry seasoning or even a barbecue rub would work fine on turkey. Use whatever your favorite seasoning is or whatever you find in your pantry. If you are using a seasoning that already has salt added skip the salt in the recipe.

Find More Air Fryer Recipes!

Step by Step Instructions

1. Season the Turkey

Take the turkey out of its plastic wrapper and pat it dry. If your turkey breast is covered in netting leave the netting on while it cooks.

cooking turkey in air fryer

Spread the oil over the turkey skin and sprinkle on the herbs de Provence and salt. The oil helps the seasonings stick to the skin and makes the skin crispier.

2. Air Fry the Turkey Breast

Put the turkey breast in the air fryer and set it at 350 for 20 minutes. It doesn’t really matter which side goes up and which side goes down.

After 20 minutes use tongs to flip the turkey to the other side and continue to cook it for another 30 minutes. Then check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.

turkey breast in air fryer basket

Make sure you put the thermometer in the middle for a boneless turkey breast and near but not on the bone for a bone in one. The turkey is done when the center reaches 145 F.

The cooking time will vary depending slightly on the size of the turkey breast and whether it has a bone or not. So always check the temperature!

Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, don’t try to cook based just on time. A thermometer is not expensive and the peace of mind they give you is priceless. Food poisoning is not fun! This is my favorite inexpensive meat thermometer, which you can buy on Amazon.

I find in my air fryer a boneless breast takes about 60 minutes total cooking time, while a bone in one takes about 50 minutes total cooking time. If the turkey needs extra time put it back in the air fryer and check it again every 5-10 minutes.

3. Let the Turkey Rest

Once the turkey is done put it on a platter and let it rest, covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes. This will enable the juices to reabsorb and make it easier to slice.

If the turkey breast has netting take it off after the turkey has rested. The netting on the turkey breast is nice for holding it together, but it can be a little tricky to take off. If you just yank if off some of the crispy skin will go with it, which would be a shame!

boneless turkey breast in front of air fryer

The best way to take it off is to use scissors (or a knife) to cut through it all the way along the top. Then gently peel it down each side, making sure to keep the skin on the turkey.

How to Serve

Slice the turkey into thick slices and serve it with gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes or whatever your favorite turkey side dishes are.

cutting the air fryer turkey breast

You can also quickly wipe out your air fryer and cook up some air fryer butternut squash while the turkey rests.

How to Store

If you have leftover turkey you can store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and use it for sandwiches or some fun turkey leftover dishes like Thanksgiving Leftover Hand Pies.

This recipe is also excellent for making turkey for meal prep or for slicing for lunch sandwiches. Freshly cooked roast turkey breast is much better in sandwiches than pre-sliced deli meat!

Since this recipe is quick, easy and hands off it is a great one to make year round, not just for Thanksgiving.

boneless turkey breast in front of air fryer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I air fry a frozen turkey breast?

No, for best results you should thaw the turkey breast before air frying. Because of the relatively small size a 3-5 pound turkey breast should thaw in 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Should I brine the turkey?

Brining the turkey adds moisture to it and makes it juicier. The turkey breast will be moist without brining, but it will enhance the flavor some. Check out my recipe for apple cider brine for a great turkey brine.

Can I cook a whole turkey in an air fryer?

There isn’t any reason you couldn’t cook an entire turkey in an air fryer except for size. It would have to be a pretty small turkey or an extremely larger air fryer.

Find More Air Fryer Recipes

Yield: 6

Air Fryer Turkey Breast

boneless turkey breast in front of air fryer

Air fryer turkey breast results in tender and juicy turkey with crispy skin.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pound turkey breast, either boneless or bone in
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon herbes de Provence seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional

Instructions

  1. Take the turkey breast out of its packing and pat it dry. If it has a netting leave the netting on.
  2. Spread the oil over the turkey skin and then sprinkle on the herbes de Provence, coating all sides of the turkey breast. Sprinkle the salt on as well.
  3. Put the turkey breast in the air fryer and set it at 350 F for 20 minutes.
  4. When the air fryer finished use tongs to flip the turkey breast over and cook it at 350 F for another 30 minutes.
  5. Check the internal temperature of the turkey with an instant read thermometer. The turkey is done when it reaches 145 F. If you have a boneless breast check the temperature in the middle. If it is a bone in breast check the temperature near the bone, but not touching the bone.
  6. If the turkey needs extra time put it back in the air fryer at 350 F and check the temperature again every 5-10 minutes.
  7. Once the turkey is done take it out and let it rest on a serving platter, covered with foil, for 15 minutes before cutting.

Notes

In my air fryer a boneless turkey breast cooked in 60 minutes total time and a bone in one was done slightly more quickly in 50 minutes. But air fryers vary and turkey breast sizes vary, so always check the internal temperature with a thermometer, don't rely on time.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 576Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 302mgSodium: 790mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 114g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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turkey breast ready for serving
Air fryer turkey breast results in tender and juicy turkey with crispy skin. This is the ideal simple, low prep recipe when you want to cook turkey quickly! Easy to make even if you've never cooked turkey before. This recipe is perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner or for a weeknight meal.

By on November 12th, 2020

2 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Turkey Breast for a small Thanksgiving dinner”

  1. Wow, looks delicious, I am going to try that for Thanksgiving this year, thank you for a great way to cook in Air fryer, love Air frying recipes and you never let me down, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply

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