Turkey Breast

How to Cook Juicy, Tender Turkey Breast in an Air Fryer

Air fryers have become one of the most popular kitchen gadgets for their ability to cook food with less oil and quick cooking times. But did you know the air fryer can also be used to cook an amazingly juicy turkey breast? It’s true! Ditch the oven this holiday and make turkey breast in your air fryer.

Benefits of Cooking Turkey Breast in an Air Fryer

Air frying turkey breast has a few big advantages over oven roasting:

  • Super juicy meat – The circulating hot air crisps the skin while keeping the meat very moist. No more dry turkey!
  • Cooks quickly – Turkey breast can be fully cooked in an air fryer in only 60-90 minutes total. Much faster than the oven.
  • Makes perfect portions – Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller cuts of meat like boneless turkey breast. Easy to serve just a few people.
  • Added crunch – The air fryer gives an extra crispy, crunchy skin that you just can’t achieve in the oven.
  • Easy cleanup – With no oven spatters or mess, cleanup is a breeze after air frying turkey.

For the best flavor and texture, keep reading for tips on how to cook turkey breast right in your air fryer.

Picking the Right Turkey Breast Size

When selecting a turkey breast to cook in your air fryer, keep these size guidelines in mind:

  • 1.5-2 lbs – Best for small 3-4 qt air fryers; feeds 2-3 people
  • 3-4 lbs – For larger 5-6 qt air fryers; feeds 4-6 people
  • Boneless or bone-in – Skin-on for crispiest skin

Look for turkey breast halves with the skin still attached for added moisture and flavor. Avoid frozen turkey breasts, as it’s difficult to properly crisp the skin from frozen.

Thawing Turkey Breast

For food safety and even cooking, only cook thawed turkey breast in an air fryer. Here are some quick thawing methods:

  • In the refrigerator – Thaw 24 hours for every 1 lb of turkey. Keep on a tray to catch drips.
  • In cool water – Submerge a vacuum sealed or zip top bagged breast in cool water, changing water every 30 mins. About 30 mins per lb.
  • In the microwave – Follow appliance guidelines for defrosting poultry. Allow standing time and cook immediately.

Never thaw turkey at room temperature or in hot water. Cook within 1-2 days of thawing.

Signs of Spoiled Turkey

Discard turkey if it has these signs of spoilage:

  • Slimy texture or dull, faded color
  • Strange, unpleasant or off odor
  • Grayish or greenish discoloration
  • Any mold, slime, or obvious bacteria

When in doubt, do not taste, cook, or eat spoiled turkey. Play it safe and start fresh with a new breast.

Seasoning Turkey Breast for Air Fryer Cooking

Seasonings and rubs add big flavor to turkey breast as it air fryer cooks. Here are some easy ways to season:

  • Dry herb rub – Sprinkle on a blend of dried rosemary, thyme, sage, pepper. Gently pat to adhere.
  • Wet marinade – Soak breast for 30 mins to an hour in a marinade of olive oil, herbs, spices, citrus.
  • Compound butter – Slather breast in a flavored butter before cooking. Garlic herb and citrus work great.
  • Brine – Soak breast for 1-2 hours in a saltwater brine to infuse moisture and flavor.
  • Injectable marinade – Inject flavor deep into the meat with a marinade-filled syringe.

Avoid over-seasoning, as the air fryer concentration of heat and airflow can make some seasonings taste stronger.

Step-by-Step Guide to Air Frying Turkey Breast

Follow these simple steps for perfect air fryer turkey breast every time.

1. Prepare Air Fryer

Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. Spray or brush basket with oil to prevent sticking.

2. Pat Turkey Dry

Remove turkey breast from packaging and pat very dry with paper towels. Wet skin won’t crisp well.

3. Season the Breast

Rub all over with olive oil or flavored butter. Apply choice of herbs, spices, or rub.

4. Insert Meat Thermometer

Insert an instant read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to touch the bone.

5. Place Breast in Air Fryer

Put turkey breast in basket skin-side up. Avoid overcrowding. Insert thermometer through side of basket.

6. Air Fry the Breast

Set air fryer to 350°F and cook for 15-20 minutes per 1 lb, adjusting time as needed. Internal temp should reach 165°F.

7. Let Turkey Rest

Remove breast from air fryer and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing to allow juices to set.

8. Slice and Serve

Carve into slices and serve your perfectly cooked, moist and tender air fried turkey breast!

For easy cleanup, remove and discard any drippings and wipe out the air fryer basket after cooking.

Turkey Breast

Troubleshooting Common Air Fryer Turkey Issues

Air frying turkey is very simple, but here are some tips if you run into any problems:

Issue: Breast skin isn’t crispy

Fix: Pat turkey very dry before cooking, rub with oil, and make sure not to overcrowd the air fryer basket.

Issue: Turkey breast is undercooked

Fix: Cook for the full recommended cook time based on weight, and use a meat thermometer to confirm doneness.

Issue: Breast is overcooked or dry

Fix: Avoid cooking too long and don’t exceed the 165°F target internal temperature.

Issue: Breast skin is too dark

Fix: Lower air fryer temp to 325°F if skin is getting too dark before the interior cooks through.

Issue: Breast doesn’t fit in basket

Fix: Cut turkey breast in half crosswise before cooking to fit in smaller air fryer baskets.

Get Creative with Leftover Turkey Breast

Cooked turkey breast lasts 3-4 days refrigerated, or 2-3 months frozen. Here are delicious ways to use up leftovers:

  • Turkey club sandwiches – Layer turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on toasted bread.
  • Turkey salad – Dice turkey and toss with mayo, celery, cranberries, nuts for sandwiches or wraps.
  • Turkey alfredo – Toss diced turkey into fettuccine with spinach and parmesan alfredo sauce.
  • Turkey tacos – Warm diced turkey in Mexican spices and serve in soft tortillas or taco shells.
  • Turkey fried rice – Stir diced turkey into rice with soy sauce, sesame oil, eggs, and veggies.

Get your money’s worth from cooked turkey breast by repurposing it in quick and easy meals throughout the week!

Key Takeaways for Air Frying Turkey Breast

Air frying allows you to cook small turkey breast portions that are super fast, easy, and delicious. Follow these tips:

  • Use a 1.5-2 lb boneless, skin-on breast for air fryers under 4 qts
  • Thaw turkey completely before cooking for food safety
  • Pat breast dry and coat in oil, herbs, spices, or rub for flavor
  • Set air fryer to 350°F and cook approximately 15-20 mins per lb
  • Check internal temp and cook to 165°F; let rest before slicing
  • Store leftovers to add into sandwiches, salads, pasta, rice bowls and more

With your air fryer, you can now skip basting a huge bird in the oven. Just air fry individual turkey breasts for juicy, tender meat in no time!

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