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Instead of cooking a whole turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, try baking a turkey breast and turkey drumsticks. Faster cooking time, more meat, and less waste.

(Last Updated On: September 8, 2022)

Sometimes I put a whole turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving dinner, and sometimes I don’t. Instead, I buy a turkey breast and a couple of turkey legs. Cooking a turkey breast and a couple of turkey legs instead of a huge turkey is so much easier. We also get more white and dark meat, less waste, and less cooking time in the oven.

Baked turkey breast and turkey legs on a plate.

Key Ingredients for a Cooking Turkey Breast

  • About 9 pounds of turkey breast
  • 2 and a half pounds of turkey drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup of Butter
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
Cooking Turkey Breast
Ingredients for cooking a turkey breast and turkey drumsticks.

Step-By-Step Instructions With Photos

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Preparing The Turkey Breast

If your turkey breast is frozen, check out the thawing instructions on the label. Usually, it takes a couple of days or so to thaw in the refrigerator.

Washing The Turkey Breast And Legs

Wash and rinse the turkey breast and legs with cold water., then wash and rinse again. It’s important to be sure the turkey parts are clean.

You can line the sink with paper towels and set the turkey in the sink and run cold water over it, in it, and all around it. Or you can use a big roasting pan, set the turkey breast and turkey legs in it, and rinse water all over it, turning the turkey and rinsing again.

Then lay the turkey breast and legs on a plate and rinse out the roasting pan. When you are all done washing the turkey breast and turkey legs, clean the sink area too.

Washing raw turkey and legs in roasting pan in the sink.
Washing and rinsing the turkey breast and turkey drumsticks with cold water.

After washing, lay the breast part of the turkey facing down in the roasting pan if you can. I have to lay this one on its side because it’s too big to lay it facing down. Then, arrange the turkey breast and drumsticks to fit in the roasting pan.

With a basting brush or your clean hands, spread about 1/4 cup of butter all over the turkey breast and turkey drumsticks. Then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper all over the turkey breast and legs.

I added about an eighth of a cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. The water keeps the turkey moist while baking in the oven.

Raw turkey breast and turkey legs in a roasting pan.
Turkey breast and drumsticks are washed, buttered, seasoned, and arranged in the roasting pan with a little bit of water on the bottom of the pan.

Getting Ready For The Oven

Put a lid on the roasting pan, or cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours. Depending on how large your turkey breast is, and how hot your oven gets, you may have to adjust the time. Also, baking times are always on the turkey packaging.

I put the turkey breast on its side before I put it in the oven because it wouldn’t fit any other way. Then I arranged the turkey legs around it.

If you are wondering what the other stuff is in the roasting pan, I washed up some chicken hearts and threw them in with the turkey breast and legs. We love baked chicken hearts with our baked turkey breasts and legs.

Baked turkey breast and turkey legs in roasting pan.
Turkey breast and turkey legs are done baking in the oven.

I sliced up some turkey breast and put a couple of turkey legs on a platter for our Thanksgiving dinner feast. It looks amazingly delicious. Another great idea is to use your leftover turkey to make chicken soup dumplings.

Baked turkey breast and turkey legs on a dinner plate.
Cooking Turkey Breast

Cooking Turkey Breast

Flo
Instead of cooking a whole turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, try baking a turkey breast and turkey drumsticks. Faster cooking time, more meat, and less waste.
5 from 2 votes
Cost $27
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings 12 people

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 9 lb of turkey breast
  • 2 ½ lb turkey drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Prepare the turkey by thawing if needed.
  • Wash and rinse the turkey breast and turkey drumsticks with cold water.
  • Put the turkey breast and the turkey drumsticks in a roasting pan. Put the breast part of the turkey facing down in the roasting pan. This time I will put it on its side so the lid will fit.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of butter all over the turkey breast and drumsticks.
  • Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the turkey and drumsticks.
  • Add about 1/8 cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan, just enough to cover the bottom area of the pan.
  • Cover the roasting pan with a lid or aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
  • Bake for 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours, depending on how large your turkey breast is. Baking times are on the turkey packaging.

Recipe Notes

  • Buying a bigger turkey breast than needed is a great idea, then you can have leftovers the next night. Also, don’t forget about hot turkey sandwiches with gravy the next night, or just turkey sandwiches with mayo. So delicious!
Keyword baked turkey, healthy, roasted turkey, Thanksgiving, turkey breast, turkey drumsticks
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