This post was created in partnership with the National Turkey Federation. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.
For a lot of us, a holiday turkey feast is one of the most fun meals to prepare. For others... not so much. If you want an elegant holiday feast without a lot of the rigmarole, this recipe is for you.
Don't like the hassle of cooking a whole turkey, and have no use for all the carving and slicing? This roulade solves your problem.
Normally, I would say stuffing doesn't belong inside the bird, mostly for safety reasons and because a whole turkey just doesn't cook as well when it's stuffed. But when it's rolled up nice and cozy in a roulade (and not a whole turkey), it's all good.
This dish might look fancy, but don't let that deter you from giving it a try. It's only slightly more work at the beginning. Once it's in the oven, all the toil is done and you can relax.
What Is Turkey Roulade?
A roulade is just a rolled dish — all the different ingredients rolled up into a neat package. It can be savory like this meal or sweet for dessert. You often see the dessert ones at Christmas, called a "Yule Log" or "Buche de Noel." A Hostess Ho-Ho is a kind of basic roulade.
Let's Simplify Things
All these terms — roulade, butterflying and brining — can be a little overwhelming. To break it down, we're just making a basic stuffing, flattening out a whole turkey breast, brining it, covering it with a layer of stuffing and rolling it all together. Then that little roll is tied into a neat little package, roasted to perfection and enjoyed in all its glory.
The Benefits of Turkey Breast Roulade
There are some big benefits to a roulade: It's easy to cook and cooks quickly. It's also the best parts of the meal — turkey and stuffing — all in one. It looks great on the platter, easily transports and doesn't leave you with a fridge full of leftovers if that's not your thing.
Where to Get Boneless Turkey Breasts
Sourcing a boneless double breast with the skin on can be a challenge, and this is the perfect opportunity to utilize your butcher. Your local independent butcher or butcher at Whole Foods, Sprouts or other gourmet grocery stores can get exactly what you need and they can even butterfly it for you.
I highly recommend having your butcher take care of the technical work of deboning and butterflying for you. Removing a double breast (in one piece) from the bone while keeping the skin intact isn't impossible, but it takes some practice. I promise you will be happy you had it done for you so you can just focus on making the roulade.
Using a breast with the skin on is important for helping to keep the meat juicy. If you can't find breasts with the skin on, you can still make a roulade with skinless, and it will taste great. Or consider wrapping the whole thing with bacon, which will keep it juicy and add a wonderful smoky bacon flavor.
The larger the breast, the more surface area you will have and the easier it is to roll the roulade.
How to Butterfly and Prep a Turkey Breast for Roulade
If you are buying from a butcher (or a store that has a butcher), have them do this for you.
If you can't get turkey breasts already prepped. You can do it yourself. I'm not going to get into detail on how to do this in this post. There is good instruction online about how to debone and butterfly a turkey breast. But a few hints: 1) take your time, 2) use a sharp knife and 3) remember you are aiming in the end to have a slab of turkey of uniform thickness.
- Remove the breast from the bone, keeping the skin on.
- Spread the breast out skin-side down on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels.
- Cut into the breasts at the thickest part to butterfly, but don't cut all the way through. Then fold out the flaps like opening a book. Repeat on both sides until the meat is of roughly even thickness.
- Place a layer of plastic wrap on the top and bottom, and pound it with a meat pounder or heavy skillet until it is ½" thick throughout.
After butterflying, brine the breast for 8 hours. Brining is optional, but it's so worth doing. Rinse and pat dry after it is finished brining.
I have tested brining and not brining the breast for the roulade, and I will always choose to brine it. So much juicier and super flavorful. Brining is even more important if you're using a skinless turkey breast.
*Don't brine turkey that has been pre-brined or "enhanced." This will make it too salty.
Because of the brine time, all of the prep work for this recipe can be done the day before.
Make the Stuffing
While the turkey brines, make the stuffing with sweet Italian sausage, onions, celery, apples, cranberries, fresh herbs and bread mix. If you already have a favorite stuffing recipe, you can totally use that, too. Just make sure there aren't any large pieces of bread or sausage. The smaller the better when it comes to rolling them up into a roulade.
The recipe makes extra stuffing to serve as a side or for leftovers. You will only need about half of it for the roulade. Bake the extra stuffing covered alongside the turkey for 25 to 30 minutes, then uncover for about 5 minutes to brown.
If you don't want extra stuff (which sounds crazy), then halve the recipe.
Make the Roulade
Season and apply a half-inch-thick layer of stuffing, and then tightly roll it up. Start on the small side, so the wider side will end up on the outside.
Tie it both ways, around the middle and lengthwise, with butcher twine.
Roast it at 375° F (350° in a convection oven), until the internal temp reaches 160° F. This should be about 75 minutes, but be sure to use a probe thermometer (affiliate) to know exactly when to pull it from the oven.
Optional: to further brown the skin, you can place it under the broiler on high for just a few minutes. Do this before the breast reaches the pull temp to be careful not to overcook.
Rest for at least 15 minutes, remove the twine, slice and serve.
Key Temps and Times
Oven temp: 350° F on convection (if you have it), or 375° F if not.
Pull temp (when it should be removed from the oven): 160° F
Finished internal temp: 165° F (after carryover cooking during the rest)
Approximate roulade cooking time: 25 minutes per pound / 75 minutes total
There will be some carry-over temperature, but not as much if cooking a whole turkey. I remove the roulade from the oven 5 degrees below the target temp.
Always verify temperatures with an instant-read probe thermometer (affiliate).
Tools & Equipment Used
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- Very sharp boning knife
- Cutting board
- Meat pounder
- Butcher twine
- Parchment paper
- Sheet pan
- Instant-read probe thermometer
What to Serve With It
- Your favorite gravy
- More stuffing
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Perfect Green Beans
- Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- 2 to 3 pound whole boneless turkey breast (skin on, butterflied)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
For the brine
- 8 cups water
- ½ cup Diamond kosher salt
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 4 sage leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 tablespoon crushed garlic cloves
For the stuffing
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 12 oz. sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery (¼" dice)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple
- ½ cup dried cranberries (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes)
- 2 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, parsley (1 teaspoon each, but could be more)
- 1 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock (low sodium, preferably homemade)
- 12 oz. (4 cups) bread stuffing mix (such as Pepperidge Farm)
Brine the Breast
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add to a large bowl with the remaining brine ingredients. Stir to completely dissolve. Steep for 10 minutes before adding a 6-cup combination of cold water and ice to the bowl.
- Place the turkey breast in the brine and refrigerate for 8 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Make the Stuffing
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, breaking it apart until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions and celery with a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are softened and translucent.
- Add the apples, soaked cranberries and chopped fresh herbs. Add the chicken stock, scraping any brown bits off the pan. Then stir in bread stuffing mix. Taste for seasoning. If the stuffing is too dry, add more stock.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you prep the turkey.
Make the Roulade
- Preheat oven to 350° F on convection, or 375° F if you don't have convection.
- Place the butterflied turkey breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat pounder until ½" thick all the way around.
- Brush both sides with melted butter.
- Place the breast skin-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Evenly distribute a stuffing layer that is about ½" thick over the entire surface of the breast (you will only need about half of the stuffing).
- Tightly roll (starting with the smaller side first) until you reach the end.
- Tie with butcher twine about every 2" and once longways.
Roast the Roulade
- Place in the oven on the middle rack and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160° F, about 75 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees halfway through for even browning. Optional: Broil for 2 to 5 minutes to brown the skin at the end of the cook (before it reaches the pull temp).
- Remove from oven and rest uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the twine to slice and serve.
- Recipe time does not include the 8-hour brine time.
- Ask your butcher to butterfly the turkey breasts for you. I found that they are more than happy to do so.
- Turkey breast can be prepared and rolled the day before, covered and chilled.
- Recipe makes extra stuffing, which you can bake alongside the turkey for 25 to 30 minutes, then uncover for about 5 minutes to brown.
- For the stuffing, you want it to be a fine texture, so avoid large pieces of sausage or bread.
- Don't rely on cook time; always rely on internal temperature.
- If there are any pan juices, you can add those to your gravy or the extra stuffing.
- The turkey skin isn’t going to be as crispy as if you cooked a whole turkey, but it’s important to leave it on to help keep the turkey breast moist while it cooks. If you prefer, you can discard the skin after it rests.
- Use convection in your oven if you have it to brown the skin.
Thanks to the National Turkey Federation for sponsoring this recipe and helping to make this site possible!