Save money and make your life a little healthier by learning how to make your own DIY deli-style oven-roasted turkey breast. This simple, straightforward recipe for making cold-cut turkey lunchmeat calls for just 3 ingredients and a bevy of tasty herbs and spices for the best deli meat of your life!
Featured comment: This turkey turned out GREAT!! SO tender and the flavor was very good. Can’t wait to try it again with different spices. – James
Update: This post was originally published in August 2014. I made edits to include more information about roasting a turkey breast at home. Plus, there’s now step-by-step photos showing you *just* how easy it is to make your own turkey meat for sandwiches (and more!) at home.
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About this roasted turkey breast
If you, like me, have a serious deli meat addiction, stop your scrolling. This easy roast turkey breast recipe makes the best dang turkey lunchmeat around. No more slimy, too thin, oddly homogenous slices of “meat” for us. This no-brine turkey recipe yields results that are seriously restaurant-quality!
Why you’ll love this deli meat recipe
And, as if that weren’t enough to love, my homemade turkey deli meat recipe is:
- Quick & Easy. You only need about 15 minutes of active prep to get your turkey breast ready for roasting in the oven. After that, you’ll need to baste a few times and slice it when it’s cooked. That’s it!
- Wholesome & Nutritious. There are no weird preservatives, artificial ingredients, or unpronounceable items in this healthy, homemade deli meat.
- Customizable. You can use any of your favorite turkey spices, seasonings and herbs in this roast turkey recipe.
- Meal-Prep & Freezer-Friendly. There’s no greater feeling than knowing you have the base of a nutritious meal waiting for you at home, especially when life gets crazy. This roasted turkey breast is great for everything from sandwiches and soup to pasta dishes and casseroles!
Ingredients for turkey lunchmeat
Making this roasted turkey in the oven only requires a few ingredients plus a bunch of spices and seasonings. Here’s what to grab:
- Unsalted Butter – For richness and the juiciest, most delicious turkey breast meat, you need fat.
- Substitution: Feel free to swap in salted butter, but then make sure to tone back on the added kosher salt. You can also use non-dairy butter if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Paprika – For color and warmth. I like to use smoked, Hungarian, or a combination of the two.
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder – For all that allium goodness with no sticky fingers or tears to show for it.
- Cumin & Chili Powder – For extra warmth.
- Substitutions: If you only have whole cumin seeds on hand, simply grind them up with a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. If you like things spicy, consider using ground cayenne, chipotle, or any other chile powder you like.
- Honey & Light Brown Sugar – For sweetness.
- Substitution: Maple syrup is great for fall flavors.
- Mustard Powder – For a little tang.
- Substitution: You can also use dijon mustard or yellow mustard.
- Ground Black Pepper & Kosher Salt – For seasoning.
- Dried Rosemary & Dried Thyme – For herby goodness.
- Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast – You can’t have deli meat without meat! A single boneless, skinless turkey breast will yield plenty of cold cuts to keep you and your 4-person family fed for at least a week, and it’ll be easier to slice, too.
- Substitution: You can also use skin on, bone-in turkey breasts if you like. Make sure to rub the seasoned butter both under and over the skin and increase the cook time appropriately. Also, you’ll want to remove the bone before using an electric slicer.
- Chicken Stock or Turkey Broth – Homemade or store-bought will both work.
- Substitution: Veggie broth or stock can also be used!
Deli turkey variations
You can take this deli turkey recipe in any direction you like. The spices and rub I used can be substituted and/or adjusted to your own liking. This is most definitely one of those recipes where I encourage you to make it your own. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
- Not a mesquite fan? Try a honey-chili-brown sugar rub.
- Love buffalo sauce? Try a Franks-butter-chive glaze.
- Like a more classic flavor? How ‘bout a little rosemary-garlic-lemon action?
- Prefer herbal flavor? Use sage and lemon juice to roast turkey.
Bottom line? Use whatever flavoring ingredients you have on hand, or whatever seasonings and flavors float YOUR boat. Just be sure to comment here, because I would LOVE to hear what creation you use on your turkey meat for sandwiches!
How to roasted turkey meat for sandwiches
Making roasted turkey in the oven is a snap. Here’s how it’s done:
- Make Rub. In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the butter with the spices and honey.
- Season Turkey. Rinse and thoroughly dry turkey breast. Coat the entire breast (all sides, top and bottom) with the compound butter.
- Tie Turkey. Fold the turkey breast in half, like a book, lengthwise with the skin side out. Secure the breast into a tight log by tying and knotting it at about 2-inch intervals.
- Brine/Marinate. Wrap your tied turkey breast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours, or up to overnight.
- Remove Chill. Remove the turkey breast from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before preheating the oven.
- Prep for Roasting. Arrange the oven rack to the lower third position. Preheat the oven. Pour stock or broth into the bottom of your roasting pan. Add the wire rack to the pan. Unwrap plastic wrap and place the turkey breast on the wire rack. Sprinkle salt evenly over the entire turkey.
- Roast. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake, basting with pan dripping every 20 minutes, until the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rest. Remove the turkey from the oven and baste one more time. Transfer the roasted turkey breast to a clean work surface and lightly tent with foil. Let rest for at least 15-20 minutes to give the juices time to redistribute.
- Serve. Remove and discard kitchen twine. Carve, slice, shred, or chop deli turkey meat and enjoy it on meat and cheese boards, in sandwiches, wraps, salads, or any recipe that calls for cooked turkey. Enjoy!
Tips for the best oven roasted turkey breast
Make sure you follow the simple tips below to ensure your turkey turns out juicy and perfectly moist every single time!
- Brining: Refrigerating your butter blanketed turkey breast is highly recommended for the best texture and taste.
- For more flavor, add a vegetable trivet or “Mirepoix” (even parts chopped onions, carrots, celery) to the bottom of the roasting pan with the stock.
- Baste: Basting your turkey while it is oven roasting is essential for tender meat. Make sure you check on the level of liquid in the roasting pan during cooking to ensure it hasn’t evaporated! (Simply add more stock or broth as you need.)
- For Skin-on Boneless Turkey Breast: If you are using skin-on turkey breast, make sure to rub the butter both under the skin and over it.
- For Bone-in Skin-on Turkey Breast: Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Roast turkey breast for 15 minutes. Leave the oven door closed and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, basting the turkey every hour, until the turkey reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. (Note: Make sure you check that there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan during longer roasting times.)
- Rest: Resting your turkey breast after roasting is absolutely crucial! It gives the juices a chance to redistribute back into the meat – instead of leaking out of it.
- Note: Only tent SKINLESS turkey breast. If you kept the skin on, do not tent the bird while it’s resting — the moisture will cause skin to lose that delicious crisp-texture.
- For thin-sliced turkey chill it *first*. Cold meat is easier to slice than hot meat.
- Let your roasted turkey breast cool to room temperature before wrapping it in plastic and transferring it to the refrigerator to cool completely before slicing.
FAQs: turkey deli meat
How long to roast a turkey breast?
The precise roasting time will vary depending upon the weight of your bird and the calibration of your oven. I recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer for accuracy. Approximate turkey roasting times are:
- 2 pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 60-70 minutes
- 2.5 pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 75-85 minutes
- 3 pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 90-105 minutes
- 4 pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 120-140 minutes
Pro-tip: Use an instant-read digital thermometer and measure the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the breast to ensure your turkey is fully cooked.
What’s the best way to thinly slice a turkey breast?
After your bird has come out of the oven, let it cool enough to handle, then place it in a clean storage container in the fridge for a few hours. Why? Cold meat is firmer, making it easier to slice thinly! Once it’s well-chilled, grab a sharp knife and cut against the grain as thinly as you please.
Alternatively, consider investing in a countertop deli meat slicer. You can grab one for about $150, and it’ll give you plenty of reason to make your own cold cuts all the time! Either way, chilling the meat first is the way to go.
How long will homemade deli meat last?
In our house? Im sorry to say this turkey meat for sandwiches doesn’t last long. But, if you keep it in a clean airtight storage container or bag in the fridge, it should be good for about a week. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months!
Are turkey cold cuts healthy?
Most commercially available cold cuts are decidedly NOT healthy. They’re loaded up with preservatives, TONS of salt, and artificial ingredients.
However, making your own DIY oven-roasted turkey breast means you have complete control over what goes into it. Since turkey breast is quite lean, I’d call my homemade lunch meat a total win for health!
Serving oven roasted turkey breast
Once you make a batch of homemade turkey lunch meat, I have a feeling you’ll find lots of ways to use it. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Simply sliced and dipped in mayo, mustard, or Thousand Island dressing.
- Turkey Roll-Ups with Flavored Cream Cheese, Pickled Onions, and Homemade Dill Pickles.
- Chop up your turkey breast, stuff it in baked potatoes and top with gravy.
- Make deli turkey sub sandwiches with cranberry sauce.
- Use it to make Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches.
- Make a Thanksgiving Leftovers-Style Muffins or Sandwiches with chestnuts stuffing or croissant stuffing year ’round!
- Shredded and turned into Turkey Tetrazzini.
Storing turkey lunchmeat
My oven-roasted turkey breast can be kept whole or sliced. To store, allow the turkey breast to cool completely to room temperature. Then, transfer to a clean, airtight container or resealable bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Alternatively, you can store your turkey meat for sandwiches in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Alright, my little turkeys! Here’s to hoping you have a wonderful, well-fed week ahead of you. As Keanu Reeves once said, “Life is good when you have a good sandwich.” No truer words have ever been spoken, and no tastier sandwich meat exists than the one you make yourself!
Until next time, cheers!
More white meat recipes!
How to make turkey meat for sandwiches👇
Roasted Turkey Breast (Deli Lunchmeat)
- 1 Small Bowl (for butter rub)
- Kitchen Twine, Kitchen Scissors + Plastic Wrap (to dry brine turkey)
- 1 Roasting Pan with a Rack
- 1 Instant-Read Thermometer
- 6-8 TBS Unsalted Butter – softened to room temperature
- 2 tsp Paprika (Smoked, Hungarian or Combination of the two)
- 1 tsp EACH: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder & Cumin
- 1 tsp EACH: Honey & Light Brown Sugar
- ½ tsp EACH: Chili Powder, Mustard Powder & Ground Black Pepper
- ½ tsp EACH: Dried Rosemary & Dried Thyme – crushed
Turkey Deli Meat:
- 2-3 pound Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast (SEE NOTES)
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth – or more as needed, for bottom of the roasting pan
- Make rub: In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter with the paprika, garlic, onion, cumin, honey, sugar, chili powder, mustard powder, rosemary, and thyme. Use a fork to stir and mash until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Season turkey breast: Rinse and thoroughly dry turkey breast. Place turkey on a clean cutting board or work surface. If your turkey came in a net, use a pair of scissors to remove and discard the netting. Unfold the turkey and lay it completely flat, skin-side-up, on your work surface. Using your hands, rub half the seasoned butter mixture into the turkey breast, massaging the mixture into the meat. Flip the turkey over and apply the remaining butter mixture, using your hands to thoroughly rub the mixture into turkey meat.
- Tie turkey: Cut 6 to 8 12-inch sections of kitchen twine. Fold the turkey in half, like a book, lengthwise. The turkey should be skin-side-out. Secure the chicken into a tight log by tying and knotting the turkey breast at about 2-inch intervals. Use scissors to snip and discard excess twine.
- Chill: Wrap your tied turkey breast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours, or up to overnight. (Note: Refrigerating is optional, but highly recommended. It gives the seasoning more time to penetrate the turkey; resulting in a more flavorful turkey breast.)
- Remove chill: Remove the turkey breast from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before preheating oven.
- Preheat Oven and Prepare Roasting Pan: Arrange oven rack to the lower third position. Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Pour enough stock or broth to coat 1-inch of the bottom of your roasting pan (SEE NOTES). Add the wire rack to the pan. If you wrapped your turkey in plastic, remove and discard the plastic wrap. Place the turkey breast on the wire rack in the roasting pan. Sprinkle salt evenly over the entire turkey.
- Roast: Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes, for 60-105 minutes, or until the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 160-degrees Fahrenheit. (Note 1: Check the level of liquid in the pan during roasting to ensure it hasn't evaporated. Add more chicken stock or broth as needed.)(Note 2: Use an instant read thermometer and measure the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the breast.)
- Rest: Remove the turkey from the oven and baste one more time. Transfer the roasted turkey breast to a clean work surface and lightly tent with foil. Let rest for at least 15-20 minutes - this gives the juices time to redistribute.(Note: Only tent SKINLESS turkey breast. If you kept the skin on, do not tent the bird while it's resting - tenting will cause skin to lose its crisp.)
- Serve: Remove and discard kitchen twine from turkey. Carve, slice, shred, or chop deli turkey meat and enjoy on meat and cheese boards, in sandwiches, wraps, and salads, or any recipe that calls for cooked turkey.
- Turkey and butter: I find it easiest to blanket the turkey in butter if BOTH the butter and turkey are close to room temperature.
- Roasting pan: For more flavor, you can add a vegetable trivet or "Mirepoix" (chopped onions, carrots, celery) to the bottom of the roasting pan with the chicken stock.
- Actual cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey breast. Use an instant read meat thermometer for accuracy.
- For the juiciest turkey meat, I recommend removing it from the oven once it reaches an internal temperature of 160-degrees; carry-over cooking (resting the turkey) will bring it up to/past 165-degrees.
- Approximate Roasting Times
- 2-pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 60-70 minutes
- 2.5-pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 75-85 minutes
- 3-pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 90-105 minutes
- 4-pound turkey breast: Roast at 350 for 120-140 minutes
- Skin-on Boneless Turkey Breast: You can follow the recipe as instructed; however you will need to gently separate the turkey meat from the skin and apply the butter UNDER the skin. Then, rub the residual butter left on your hands all over the skin.
- Bone-in Skin-on Turkey Breast: Increase oven temperature to 425-degrees. Roast turkey breast for 15 minutes. Leave the oven door closed and reduce the oven temperature to 350-degrees. Roast, basting the turkey every hour, until the turkey reaches 160-degrees Fahrenheit. (Note: Make sure you check that there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan during longer roasting times.)
- Thin-sliced turkey: If you want to slice your roast turkey breast deli-style-thin, I recommend chilling it *first*. Cold meat is easier to slice than hot meat.
- Let your roasted turkey breast cool to room temperature before wrapping in plastic and transferring to the refrigerator.
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