This Classic Slow-Braised Dutch Oven Turkey Breast with Gravy is the perfect turkey recipe for a small Thanksgiving gathering. Both the turkey breast and the homemade gravy come together in one pot, creating layers of flavor for a truly satisfying meal. Slowly braising the turkey breast results in moist and flavorful white meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy, and delicious.
Turkey breast meat is notorious for being dry. When roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, it can be a challenge to keep the white meat moist while the dark meat fully cooks through.
But, in this slow-braised dutch oven turkey breast recipe, we're putting all of our focus on creating moist, tender, and juicy turkey breast. The tight-fitting lid of the dutch oven locks in moisture as the turkey cooks, which gives us fall-off-the-bone tender turkey meat and lots of flavorful drippings to make our scratch-made gravy.
This recipe is perfect for a small Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving dinner as it makes enough turkey to feed 5-6 people. Often, I make this recipe in the fall or winter when I'm craving a comforting turkey dinner.
And if you're only feeding a few people, the turkey meat makes great leftovers for sandwiches or soup.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Made in One Pot- Both the turkey and the gravy come together right in the dutch oven. So, in the end, you only have one pot to worry about cleaning up. I'd say that's a dinner win!
- Tender & Juicy Turkey- Since the turkey is slow-braised in the moist environment of the dutch oven, the breast meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender. It's all about creating moist and juicy turkey and flavorful homemade gravy.
- Perfect for a Small Crowd- Having just a small Thanksgiving dinner this year? This recipe is perfect for a group of about 5-6 people.
- Scratch-Made Gravy- When it comes to turkey gravy, making it from scratch with turkey drippings is always best. And this recipe makes it so easy! Just reduce the drippings right in the pot. No need to use a fat separator or strain anything.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Turkey Breast- My 6-quart dutch oven can comfortably fit a 5-pound bone-in turkey breast. I prefer fresh turkey breast, but you can also use a thawed frozen turkey breast.
- Vegetables- A combination of onion, carrot, celery, and garlic adds flavor to the turkey and gravy. I like to dice them small so that they cook down and are barely noticeable in the gravy.
- Herbs & Spices- Just a little salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and a bay leaf is all that is needed. Throw the sprigs of thyme and bay leaf in whole. Then, just remove them before making the gravy.
- Olive Oil- I like to use olive oil because it has a relatively high smoke point. Since we're searing the turkey for 15 minutes, an oil that can handle the heat is important.
- Flour- All-purpose flour is used to make the roux, which is what thickens the gravy.
- Chicken Stock- Both chicken stock and water can be used to make the gravy. If you use water, you may just need to add a little extra salt at the end.
Here are some notes on any special equipment I used to make this recipe.
- Dutch Oven- My 6-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven is my favorite pot to cook just about anything in, especially bone-in roast turkey breast. Dutch ovens cook food gently and evenly thanks to their ability to retain heat and moisture. They’re the perfect vessel for slow-braising meat. I love my Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Dutch Oven.
- Meat Thermometer- Investing in a good meat thermometer is helpful when it comes to testing the doneness of large cuts of meat. For turkey breast, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to touch the bone.
Holiday Gift Guide: Looking for more helpful and unique kitchen cookware and gadgets? Check out my holiday gift guide for home cooks!
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make a bone-in turkey breast in the dutch oven.
For the Braised Turkey Breast
Step 1: Prepare the turkey breast. Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove giblets from inside the cavity of the turkey and pat dry. If the turkey has a pop-up thermometer, remove that as well. Season the turkey breast thoroughly with kosher salt and black pepper.
Step 2: Sear the turkey breast and vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the turkey to the pot breast side down. Then, sprinkle the diced vegetables, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf around the turkey breast. Sear the turkey breast on all sides (about 3-5 minutes per side) for a total of 15 minutes.
Step 3: Braise the turkey breast. When the turkey has been seared on all sides and a nice layer of fond has developed on the bottom of the pot, carefully flip the turkey breast so that the breast side is facing up. Place the dutch oven lid onto the dutch oven and carefully place the pot into the preheated oven. Cook the turkey breast for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the turkey breast to a cutting board and tent it with foil while you make the gravy.
For the Turkey Gravy
Step 4: Reduce the drippings. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the pot and discard them. Place the dutch oven back on the stovetop over medium heat. Reduce the liquid in the pot until it is very thick and mostly only the fat drippings and vegetables are remaining. Sprinkle the flour over the reduced drippings and stir together to form the roux.
Note: If desired, you can strain the drippings prior to reducing them if you don't want vegetables in your gravy. However, I love the flavor the vegetables bring to the gravy and have never found it necessary to strain them out.
Step 5: Make the gravy. Cook the roux for 3-5 minutes before slowly whisking in the chicken stock. Whisk continuously to prevent lumps from forming while you bring the gravy to a gentle simmer. Simmer the gravy for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. When it's ready, it should easily coat the back of a spoon. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Step 6: Carve the turkey and serve with gravy. Carve the turkey breast by running a knife along the breastbone to remove the meat. Slice the turkey and serve topped with gravy.
Tips for Success
- Use the right-sized dutch oven. I find that my 6-quart enameled dutch oven can easily handle a 5-pound turkey breast. If your dutch oven is smaller, you may need to use a smaller turkey breast or cut the breast into smaller pieces.
- Sear all sides of the turkey breast. Searing the turkey breast isn't just about cooking it. Browning the skin adds flavor to the turkey meat as well as the drippings. As the turkey sears, it creates a layer of fond on the bottom of the pot that is later used to make the gravy.
- Be careful when moving the turkey breast. The most difficult part of this recipe is moving the turkey breast around. Use tongs and a wooden spoon to carefully maneuver the turkey in the pot while searing.
- Don't focus on the skin. While we do sear the skin to create a layer of fond in the pot for gravy, crispy skin isn't the focus of this recipe. Tender, juicy turkey breast meat is. After braising, the turkey skin will soften. It's still edible, but probably won't be raved about by your guests.
- Don't strain the drippings. Instead of straining the drippings or using a fat separator, we reduce the liquid right in the pot on the stove. Leaving the vegetables in the gravy adds a complex layer of flavor. The vegetables are so soft by the time we make the gravy that you'll barely even notice them.
- Use the breastbone as a guide for carving. When carving the turkey breast, use the center breastbone as a guide for your knife. Run the knife along the breastbone to remove the meat.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can customize this dutch oven turkey breast recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Turkey Breast- For this recipe, I use a bone-in turkey breast. If you use boneless turkey breast, you'll need to adjust the cook time accordingly. You can also use split chicken breasts or a small whole chicken if preferred.
- Vegetables- Frozen vegetables can be used in place of fresh vegetables. If you want to use garlic or onion powder instead of fresh garlic and onion, you'll need 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and ½ tablespoon of onion powder.
- Herbs & Spices- Use ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme instead of fresh thyme. If you don't have a bay leaf, just leave it out or add an extra sprig of fresh thyme.
- Olive Oil- Any neutral-flavored, high-heat oil can be used in place of olive oil. If you want to use butter, I would use 2 tablespoons of butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of high-heat oil to prevent burning.
- Flour- Replace the roux with a cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water) whisked into the gravy after adding the chicken stock. Otherwise, use all-purpose gluten-free flour or sweet rice flour in place of regular flour.
- Chicken Stock- Turkey stock, vegetable stock, or water can all be used to make the gravy. Beef stock can also be used, but the flavor may overpower the delicate poultry and vegetable flavors.
- Gluten-Free- For gluten-free dutch oven roasted turkey breast with gravy, replace the flour-based roux with a cornstarch slurry. Alternatively, you can use sweet rice flour as a one-to-one substitute for all-purpose flour.
- Dairy-Free- This recipe does not use dairy at all, which means it is naturally dairy-free.
- Herbed- While this recipe calls for fresh thyme, you can use other fresh herbs to amp up the classic Thanksgiving flavors. Rosemary, thyme, and sage are often paired with turkey. Alternatively, make an herb butter to serve alongside the braised turkey breast.
What to Serve with Dutch Oven Turkey Breast
This slow-braised dutch oven turkey breast recipe is perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering or if you're just craving a hearty, home-cooked turkey dinner. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to pair with this roasted turkey breast.
- Sourdough Stuffing
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Sautéed Butternut Squash
- Baked Potatoes
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Orange-Infused Cranberry Sauce
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Green Beans and Carrots
- Parmesan Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread
How to Use Up Leftovers
If you end up with a bunch of leftover turkey breast, fear not! Turkey breast meat is super versatile and there are plenty of ways to use it up. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich or Panini
- Wild Rice and Turkey Soup
- Turkey and Dumplings
- Thanksgiving Egg Rolls
- Turkey and Egg Breakfast Sandwich
- Green Salad Topped with Turkey
- Turkey Quesadillas
- Leftover Thanksgiving Casserole
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- According to the USDA, cooked turkey can safely be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- Remove the turkey meat from the bones and place it in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Store the turkey in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Pro Tip: Don't throw out those turkey bones! Use them to make turkey stock for soup or gravy. If you're tight on time, store the bones separately from the meat inside a freezer-safe bag until you're ready to use them.
How to Reheat
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place leftover sliced turkey inside of a baking dish in an even layer. Add a splash of chicken stock and a few pats of butter to the turkey. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and reheat for 30-35 minutes or until the turkey is fully warmed through.
- Stovetop- Place the sliced turkey meat inside of a deep skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add about ½-inch of chicken stock or water to the bottom of the skillet and cover it with a lid. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the turkey pieces are warmed through.
- Microwave- Cut the turkey breast meat into bite-sized pieces and place them in a microwave-safe container. Add a splash of chicken broth and a pat of butter to the container. Cover the container with a lid and microwave the turkey on half-power (50%) for 1 minute. Continue heating on half-power in 30-second intervals until fully warmed through.
This slow-braised turkey is best enjoyed fresh.
However, if you want to get a jumpstart on preparing this dish, you can easily chop the vegetables up to 5 days ahead of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
My 6-quart dutch oven comfortably fits a 5-pound turkey breast. If your dutch oven is smaller, opt for a smaller turkey breast or a 3-4 pound whole chicken. If you have a larger dutch oven, you can reach for a turkey breast that's a little larger.
Yes, you can certainly use boneless turkey breast if preferred. Keep in mind that it will likely take less time for a boneless turkey breast to cook through. Always use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
Nope! No need to add any additional liquid to your dutch oven before placing it inside the oven. The turkey will release plenty of juices as it slow-braises, which we will then use to make gravy.
Since we want to braise the turkey breast in this recipe, we cook it in a covered dutch oven. A lidded dutch oven keeps the turkey meat moist, juicy, and tender.
While you can strain the turkey and vegetable drippings if you'd like, I find that it's an unnecessary extra step. The cooked vegetables are soft and chopped so small that they're hardly noticeable in the finished gravy. Plus, they add a layer of flavor unique to this recipe.
More Poultry Recipes
Dutch Oven Turkey Breast with Gravy
- 5 pound bone-in turkey breast fresh or thawed from frozen
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion finely diced
- 1 carrot peeled and finely diced
- 1 celery stalk finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
- Additional kosher salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove giblets from inside the cavity of the turkey and pat dry. If the turkey has a pop-up thermometer, remove that as well. Season the turkey breast thoroughly with kosher salt and black pepper.5 pound bone-in turkey breast, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the turkey to the pot breast side down. Then, sprinkle the diced vegetables, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf around the turkey breast. Sear the turkey breast on all sides (about 3-5 minutes per side) for a total of 15 minutes.¼ cup olive oil, ½ large yellow onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 4 cloves garlic, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf
- When the turkey has been seared on all sides and a nice layer of fond has developed on the bottom of the pot, carefully flip the turkey breast so that the breast side is facing up. Place the dutch oven lid onto the dutch oven and carefully place the pot into the preheated oven. Cook the turkey breast for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the turkey breast to a cutting board and tent it with foil while you make the gravy.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the pot and discard them. Place the dutch oven back on the stovetop over medium heat. Reduce the liquid in the pot until it is very thick and mostly only the fat drippings and vegetables are remaining. Sprinkle the flour over the reduced drippings and stir together to form the roux. (Note: If desired, you can strain the drippings prior to reducing them if you don’t want vegetables in your gravy. However, I love the flavor the vegetables bring to the gravy and have never found it necessary to strain them out.)¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Cook the roux for 3-5 minutes before slowly whisking in the chicken stock. Whisk continuously to prevent lumps from forming while you bring the gravy to a gentle simmer. Simmer the gravy for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. When it’s ready, it should easily coat the back of a spoon. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.2 cups chicken stock or water, Additional kosher salt
- Carve the turkey breast by running a knife along the breastbone to remove the meat. Slice the turkey and serve topped with gravy.
- Caution: The most difficult part of this recipe is moving the turkey breast around. Use tongs and a wooden spoon to carefully maneuver the turkey in the pot while searing.
- Tip: Use a 6-quart or larger dutch oven for a turkey breast that is 5 pounds or more.
- Storage: Store leftover cooked turkey in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.