This Air Fryer Turkey Breast recipe is a great way to cook a smaller amount of turkey that turns out perfectly tender and moist in just 35 minutes without the hassle of the oven.
The air fryer is a great way to make a turkey breast for any occasion, when you don’t need to make an entire turkey for a crowd. A 2.5 to 5 pound turkey can feed 5-10 people and it’s a much easier way to cook it.
If you’re looking for a way to make turkey for the holidays without having to get the whole bird into the oven in the morning, this is the best way to do it. You can fit a 2.5-pound turkey breast (that’s one half of a full breast bone – just one side) in a 3.5-quart or larger air fryer. A 5-pound turkey breast (the whole breast bone with bone in or removed) can fit in a 5-quart air fryer or a toaster style air fryer.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Turkey breasts – I used a Jennie O 2.5-pound skinless boneless turkey breast. This will feed around 5-6 people. You cook a larger turkey if it fits inside your air fryer. The time will vary slightly (see instructions below). It’s also an option to cook either a bone-in or boneless, skin on or skinless turkey breast. You can do them all in the air fryer.
- Seasonings – I use a blend of paprika, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, chili powder, and rosemary to season the turkey.
- Cooking oil spray– use a neutral oil – like vegetable or avocado oil – so that the oil doesn’t change the flavor of the meat. You could also brush on oil if you don’t have a cooking spray.
- Air fryer: I use this 4-quart basket-style air fryer. It’s large enough to fit a meal for 4-6. But some things need more space in the air fryer basket, so they cook evenly.
- Kitchen tongs: It’s very easy to remove food from your air fryer with kitchen tongs. I use these kitchen tongs that are silicon coated so they don’t scratch the interior.
- Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer. It’s so quick to open the basket and check the temp.
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Breast
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 30 minutes before beginning, so it can come up in temperature.
First, mix together the seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle it onto your turkey evenly and rub it in to make sure the whole turkey is well coated.
Place the turkey into the air fryer basket. Spray it with cooking oil.
Cook the turkey at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes, turning the turkey over at the halfway point. If you’re cooking a larger than 2.5-pound turkey, it will need more time than this. For a 5-pound turkey, cook for 50 minutes.
I don’t recommend cooking the turkey frozen. Thaw it first in the refrigerator for 2 days or until fully thawed before cooking. If you must cook it from frozen, you’ll need to cook it for at least 1 hour, maybe longer.
The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees F. Be sure to test the meat to make sure it reaches this point. If it hasn’t yet, leave it in a bit longer.
At 160 degrees, transfer the turkey to a plate to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the turkey to come up to the ideal 165 degrees.
What Oil & Oil Sprayer is Best for the Air Fryer?
The biggest issue most air fryer lovers face is finding the right oil and oil sprayer to use on food cooked in the air fryer. A fine mist of oil will help the entire piece of food crisp evenly, so it’s very important.
My personal preference is to use canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil. I use both a refillable spray bottle like the Evo one pictured below and non-propellant extra virgin olive oil, which has not harmful aerosols or chemicals.
How to Serve Air Fryer Turkey
You can also just serve it alongside a green salad for an easy weeknight meal. Or serve it with different types of potatoes for a homey feel to the dish. Try these crispy smashed potatoes, or use sweet potatoes to off-set the savory turkey.
These are also great for a one-person holiday meal. If you need something easy to make yourself that still feels like a holiday dinner, this is a good choice. Cook with an herb rub with garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary and thyme for a classic holiday flavor. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy, or dinner rolls on the side for a festive meal.
How To Carve the Turkey
It’s obviously much easier to carve a turkey breast than it is to carve a whole turkey. Nonetheless, there are a few tips to make it effortless:
- Allow the turkey breast to on a cutting board or plate for 10 minutes to allow the internal temp to climb to 165 degrees and to redistribute the juices.
- Use a really sharp and long knife, like a chef’s knife to make long even strokes through the meat.
- I like to start cutting at the smallest end, lengthwise. Make a long slice. Then continue to slice 1/4″ slices until you’ve reached the end.
Notes & Suggestions
The cook time will vary depending on the size of the turkey breast. It’s a general rule of thumb that turkey will take about 12 minutes per pound in the air fryer at 350 degrees F. Use that as a guide to determine how long to cook yours. Bone-in will cook slightly slower too. The best things is to use a meat thermometer to test it near the end to determine how long to go.
Don’t use frozen turkey if at all possible. It’s best to use thawed turkey that has come up to room temperature first. This will result in a turkey that is evenly cooked and take the amount of time to cook that I’ve mentioned above.
Why Use an Air Fryer
An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.
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Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- 2.5 pound turkey breast boneless, skinless preferred (you can use a larger turkey breast)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 30 minutes before beginning, so it can come up in temperature. Remove it from any packaging and pat it dry.
- Mix together the seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly on the turkey.
- Place the turkey breast in the air fryer. Cook at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes, turning over at the halfway point. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees F. Continue cooking until it reaches 160.
- Transfer the turkey to a plate to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the turkey to come up to the ideal 165 degrees.
- You can use a larger turkey breast, as long as it fits in your air fryer. A 5 quart air fryer can fit up to a 5-pound air fryer usually.
- Use bone in, skin on if you want. The times might change. You need to test it on a meat thermometer to know when it’s done.
- The turkey should be at 160 degrees F when you pull it out of the air fryer, so it can rest and climb to 165 degrees F.
All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite recipes over at A Food Lover’s Kitchen, and you’ll find Instant Pot recipes at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
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Laura spends a lot of her time cooking and creating recipes to share. She loves traveling and learning about new foods around the world to bring into her own recipes at home.