If you’re sick of turkey breast that comes out dry and disappointing, just wait until you try this air fryer turkey breast! The skin crisps up so beautifully, you’ll think it just came out of a deep fryer. Meanwhile, the meat stays wonderfully tender and juicy. It’s perfect if you’re having a smaller holiday gathering or don’t want to roast an entire turkey. (Even the “dark meat only” guests will fall in love after one bite!) Thanks to the magic of the air fryer, you can whip up a mouth-watering holiday main course in no time.
I love the tradition of serving turkey for Thanksgiving and the holidays. But unless I need to feed a small crowd, I don’t always want to go through the hassle of cooking a whole bird. That’s when I turn to my Air Fryer Turkey Breast recipe!
The skin comes out crisp and evenly golden brown, while the meat stays juicy and tender. The first time my husband tasted this dish, he declared that it reminded him of something that came out of a deep fryer. That’s when I knew I was on to something!
Air Fryer Bone-In Turkey Breast is delicious enough to enjoy as your main course, or you can use it in recipes like Turkey Pot Pie. Either way, once you see how easy it is to prep and how delicious the final result is, it might become your new favorite holiday tradition.
Benefits of Using an Air Fryer
- When you make a turkey breast in the air fryer, the rapidly-circulating hot air will cook the meat much faster than traditional roasting without drying it out. Win-win!
- You can get that wonderful crispy skin you expect from the deep fryer without the actual hassle, baby-sitting, or clean-up that goes along with deep-frying turkey.
- Without a giant turkey taking up all your precious oven space, you’ll have much more room to roast your sides and desserts!
Ingredients for Making Turkey Breast in the Air Fryer
- Turkey Breast - You want 4-6 pounds of bone-in whole turkey breast. This cut will give you a little more flavor than a boneless turkey breast.
- Butter - Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, then divide in two bowls or ramekins. You could also use olive oil if you prefer.
- Seasoning - Onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and pepper give this recipe just the right amount of flavor. Want to mix things up? Rosemary, sage, poultry seasoning, and thyme all work well when you air fry turkey.
- Salt - This is integral for the dry brine to pull moisture out of the skin, which will allow it to really crisp up in the air fryer.
Tips & Tricks
- Give the turkey enough time to defrost. You’ll want to allow about 1 day of thawing in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds.
- Apply the dry brine the night before to help draw the moisture out of the skin. The salt will permeate the fibers of the meat and result in juicier meat.
- Heat up the serving plate to 100°F to 120°F (depending on the type of plate) while the turkey is resting to keep the meat warm longer.
- Use an Instant Read Thermometer to determine when your turkey is done. Looking at an Air Fryer Turkey Time Chart will give you a good idea, but the cooking time will always vary depending on the size of the breast and type of air fryer. That’s why a thermometer is always your best bet.
- Make sure the bottom of the air fryer is clean so that as you’re cooking turkey breast in the air fryer, you can use it to collect any drippings for gravy. If you’re using an oven-style air fryer, put a tray below it.
Frequently Asked Questions
This depends on the size and type of air fryer you’re using. An oven style should be able to handle about 6 pounds while the pull-out drawer version will fit less.
You should plan for around ½ - ¾ pound per person. I usually round up in the hopes that I end up with some leftovers!
The FDA recommends cooking turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. However, because the temperature will continue to rise about 5°F as the turkey rests, I like to take my turkey out at 160°F. This ensures it never ends up overcooked or dry.
Tools Needed to Make Turkey Breast Air Fryer
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Extra turkey can be stored covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be eaten within four days.
Wondering what to make with your leftovers? I love whipping up a giant bowl with my turkey breast and sides! Heat up some potatoes, maybe add a little cranberry sauce, throw a little herb butter on top, and dig in.
For a lighter meal, turkey salads are always a nice way to enjoy some greens. On the other hand, a turkey pot pie or casserole is always a crowd-pleaser!
How to Freeze
For longer storage, wrap the Air Fryer Turkey in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place in freezer bags. When properly stored, turkey can be frozen for up to four months.
How to Cook Turkey Breast In An Air Fryer
For a visual walk though, check out my Air Fryer Turkey Breast Web Story.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
Sprinkle the seasonings all over the turkey, then refrigerate for at least several hours, ideally overnight.
Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees. Brush the turkey with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Place the turkey skin-side down in the air fryer basket and cook for 30 minutes.
Flip, brush with any remaining butter, and cook for another 25 minutes to 45 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Tent the turkey with foil and allow it to rest for 30 to 50 minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh herbs if you like.
How To Carve a Turkey Breast
Don’t worry, it’s much easier than carving a whole turkey! Which is another reason I love making this Air Fryer Turkey Breast Recipe for smaller holiday gatherings.
First, run your knife down both sides of the backbone to separate the breast. After that, slice from the top to the bottom of the breast so you can pull all of it away from the bone.
After that, you’re ready to slice and serve! Just make sure you’ve given the turkey plenty of time to rest so you won’t lose all those savory juices.
More Holiday and Thanksgiving Recipes
- Easy Pumpkin Flan
- Healthy Butternut Squash Soup
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Casserole
- Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Broccoli
- Gluten-Free Corn Muffins
- Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
- 64 Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes
Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bone-in turkey breast 4 to 6 pounds
- ¼ cup butter melted and divided
- In a small bowl combine salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
- Sprinkle the seasonings all over the turkey. Ideally, refrigerated overnight.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees. Brush with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook skin side down for 30 minutes.
- Flip and brush with any remaining butter. Cook for another 25 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Tent with foil and allow to rest for 30 to 50 minutes before serving.